Breckenridge accepts position as USAWC provost

Kristian Biega, Staff writer

After 15 years as administrator at Mercyhurst and  six years as dean of the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences at Mercyhurst, James Breckenridge, Ph. D, has accepted the position of provost at the United States Army War College (USAWC) in Carlisle, PA.

Breckenridge has been an integral part of Mercyhurst’s Intelligence Studies program and feels a great pride for what it has become. In 2002, he was appointed first chair of the Department of Intelligence Studies, according to a press release by the Mercyhurst Public Relations office.   During that time he designed the curriculum for the program and assisted in gaining accreditation for the Intelligence Studies major, the certificate, and its graduate program by 2005.

“Having helped build the Intelligence Studies program at Mercyhurst, this is something I felt would never leave unless I thought there was another compelling mission for me to serve the nation,” Breckenridge said.

Many of these leading projects have been collaborations and partnerships with renowned programs at universities such as the United Kingdom’s University of Cambridge, Canada’s Justice Institute of British Columbia and the iSchool at Syracuse University. These initiatives have allowed the program to expand well-beyond Erie, Pennsylvania and become a cooperative and exceptional force.

After looking into the position at USAWC, Breckenridge saw that his skill set and experience would allow him to fulfill the role as provost, as well as his interest in taking on the job.  

“Based on my personal background and all of the things I’ve done, I knew I fit the profile well,” said Breckenridge. “I looked into the mission and the documents that were associated with the college, and felt strongly that this was an important thing to do.”

Breckenridge has a multitude of previous experience in both the academic field and with the U.S. Military that would prepare him for this position. He served for nine years overseas in Europe and the Middle East, commanded the first unit of the U.S. Army to engage in combat since the Vietnam War and was involved in many other operations. He also served as professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

His work at Mercyhurst and contributions to the program over the years have prepared him greatly for USAWC and the high expectations and duties of the provost.

“The job of the provost  is to be an administrator for higher education; to be able to oversee curriculum, supervise and manage faculty, and supervise research efforts,” said Breckenridge. “All of these things I have learned to do at Mercyhurst.”

Although Breckenridge will no longer be part of the faculty for Mercyhurst, he believes that the relationship will continue. He seeks to use his position as provost at USAWC to potentially provide Mercyhurst Intelligence Studies program with advice and guidance on the current strategic environment and a new network of people interested in helping the program grow.

“By taking this position, I felt that I could still maintain my relationship with Mercyhurst because I was not going to be working for a competitor and could actually give back in some way to the university,” said Breckenridge. “I thought that it was a nice two-way street.”

For Breckenridge, the position as provost is a great honor, but leaving Mercyhurst makes for a bittersweet situation. He is excited about the opportunity, but sad leaving the daily connections with his many friends and colleagues.

“I did not want to leave Mercyhurst, but this was sort of the last chance in my career to contribute in a larger way,” said Breckenridge. “I will really miss the hospitality and the energy of this great university.”

Looking forward, Breckenridge is extremely optimistic in the continued success of the Intelligence Studies program at Mercyhurst.

“I feel very confident that the department is in good hands,” said Breckenridge. “We have very strong faulty and brilliant students. The department has a wonderful reputation and I am quite confident that there is a strong foundation for growth.”