AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin is home to the Central Intelligence Agency’s first resident intelligence officer (RIO) under its new Visiting Intelligence Officer Program. As UT’s RIO, Alan Kessler joins the university community to help bridge the gap between the intelligence community and academia. Kessler will work within the LBJ School of Public Affairs through fall 2020.
Kessler’s priorities include teaching, engaging with faculty members on research and analysis, and serving as a resource for students interested in intelligence and government work. He said he especially looks forward to advising students about career opportunities in the intelligence community and sharing insights about public service.
UT’s nationally renowned science and engineering programs, high-achieving students and campus diversity were part of its appeal, Kessler said. The LBJ School was also a natural fit because many students at the school are interested in working in public policy leadership roles across the public, business and nonprofit sectors.
“The LBJ School is home to specialized programs, curriculum and affiliated centers with a shared mission to train the next generation of policymakers across a broad spectrum of issue areas. National security is one of those areas,” said Angela Evans, dean of the LBJ School. “We welcome Dr. Kessler to LBJ, as students will benefit immensely from his mentorship and expertise in this important area of study.”
Prior to serving in the CIA, Kessler taught courses on international relations and foreign policy as a faculty member of UT Austin’s Department of Government. He said the opportunity to be back in Texas and closer to family was part of his decision to apply to the RIO program.
UT’s national security- and intelligence-focused centers and projects, including the Intelligence Studies Project, the Clements Center for National Security and the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law, are a particular source of interest for Kessler, along with improving organizational design to help government agencies function more effectively.
His courses include strategic communications for national security; topics in international security; and a class about thinking, writing and briefing for intelligence. He also is planning a seminar on STEM and national security for the next academic year — to showcase how the work of science and engineering majors contributes to defense, intelligence and foreign policy.
As an officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Analysis, Kessler drafted a wide range of products on strategic communications to support U.S. public diplomacy and developed new methods to assess the effectiveness of technical collection platforms for senior intelligence community and policy customers.
“We welcome Professor Kessler and the CIA’s investment in the LBJ School’s national security programs,” said Stephen Slick, a clinical professor at the LBJ School and director of UT’s Intelligence Studies Project. “Professor Kessler is already making an impact by offering innovative new courses and counseling students on national security careers.”