Former U.S. Senator, decorated Marine, and Emmy-winning journalist Jim Webb kicks off 2021-22 Patterson Lecture Series Oct. 15 at Maine Central Institute

Teamwork is one of the foundations of a Maine Central Institute (MCI) education, built into the core of the curriculum as well as the athletics, arts, and clubs that students pursue. So when it came time for Head of School Christopher McDonald to select a speaker to open this academic year’s Patterson Lecture Series (PLS), he knew he wanted to find someone who has exhibited teamwork throughout their career. Sure enough, he found the perfect candidate in former U.S. Senator Jim Webb.

“Jim Webb’s experience is certainly expansive, and it’s a rare opportunity to hear stories and lessons first hand from someone revered in so many industries. Though it might seem like he’s a natural-born team leader -- and, of course, you could argue that he is -- he has learned a lot along every step of the way,” said McDonald. “His stories and his messages will undoubtedly resonate with our students and the community, and they’re going to be able to take what they hear at the opening PLS, and incorporate into their own lives, whether it’s in academics, at their work, or in their life at home.”

A native of Missouri, Webb’s family moved around frequently due to his father’s service in The United States Air Force. After graduating high school in Nebraska, Webb attended the University of Southern California on a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship before being appointed to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he excelled and received the Superintendent’s Letter for Outstanding Leadership. As a Marine lieutenant in Vietnam, Webb was awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, but had sustained significant shrapnel damage and was medically retired due to his wounds. 

After leaving the military, Webb earned a law degree from Georgetown and began a two-pronged career of writing and government service. He has authored ten books, including Fields of Fire, the classic novel of the Vietnam War, worked as a film maker and world-traveled journalist, taught literature at the Naval Academy, was a fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, and is currently the Distinguished Fellow at Notre Dame’s International Security Center. In government service he was a committee counsel in the House of Representatives, served in the Pentagon as Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy, and in 2007 was elected to the United States Senate.   

“When I was in Marine Officers Basic School, the instructors pushed us with one seemingly simple question: What do you do now, lieutenant?” said Webb. “When you’re a Marine, and it’s life or death, that question becomes heavier than you’d ever imagine. However, it’s applicable to all of us when we’re facing adversity. What do you do now? It might not be a life-or-death decision, but knowing that next move -- hopefully, one that yields a positive outcome -- will define who we are as leaders, and how we work together as a team.”

Col. Michael Wyly, who served as Executive Director of the Bossov Ballet Theatre until 2013, served as Webb’s company commander in Vietnam. Col. Wyly’s recommendation of Webb was the catalyst to bring him to MCI as a speaker. The PLS will also offer Webb an opportunity to speak to students in a classroom setting, leaning into his previous role of teaching the next generation. 

“I’m excited to talk with members of the community, but particularly the students,” Webb added. “I hope that they walk away from this presentation with a renewed sense of the greatness of our country and the challenges that face us during these very difficult times.” 

The Patterson Lecture Series was established by Gregg Patterson (Class of ‘69) and his wife, Elaine, to help students explore new themes and ideas through the personal experiences of accomplished guests. Previous speakers have included Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. and former Gov. Angus King, Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair, and U.S. Navy submariner and NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen. 

The opening PLS will be held at 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 15, at Parks Gymnasium on the MCI campus. It is free and open to the public. Due to COVID spacing requirements, seating is limited to approximately 100 individuals, on a first come-first served basis. Regardless of vaccination status, appropriate face coverings will be required. Media interested in hearing Jim Webb speak to students are invited to a presentation at 1 p.m., with an opportunity to interview him following the presentation.

TO WATCH THE LIVE EVENT ONLINE, SUBSCRIBE TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL TO LIVESTREAM:

1:00pm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Swixmf5hImE

2:00pm https://youtu.be/7Pq0RxqMX7k

7:00pm https://youtu.be/gINlRYudVio

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