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Lauded Historian Donald Stoker Bids Farewell to NPS’ Naval War College Monterey Program
U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Patrick Dionne

Lauded Historian Donald Stoker Bids Farewell to NPS’ Naval War College Monterey Program

By MC2 Patrick Dionne

Professor of Strategy and Policy Dr. Donald Stoker bid farewell to the Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) Naval War College (NWC) Monterey program, Sept. 8, following 18 years with the program.

“The legacy Donald Stoker leaves behind is one of academic professionalism,” said NWC Monterey Chair Professor Fred Drake. “He is leaving his colleagues as an inspiration and has left behind a legacy of engaging with his students and uncompromising academic standards.”

Functioning as a satellite hub of the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, NWC Monterey works in partnership with NPS to provide qualified officers and Department of Defense civilians with an education designed to enhance their performance in command and decision-making positions.

“I have been with the NWC since its beginning in August of 1999 and I was incredibly fortunate to get the job all those years ago. I have always been interested in military history and theory, and teaching here has given me the opportunity to combine the two,” said Stoker. “It has been quite a journey to watch the program grow dramatically from a small number of people to a department of 13 different professors. It has been incredibly rewarding to see it succeed and flourish after the years of hard work that we all put in.”

During his time with NWC Monterey, Stoker has taught nearly 2,000 military officers, and published 13 books or edited volumes with many of them published by Oxford, and several included in varied Chiefs of Naval Operations reading lists.

“I hate to see him go. This is a guy who was instrumental in setting up the NWC, and every influential part of its development,” said Drake. “His personality, his work ethic, they are all things that established what we are today and that is part of his legacy.

“There was one point in time where I had him in the classroom eight quarters in a row because that it just what we had to do. These are the ways he has changed us, he has influenced us to be better academics and to look for better ways to teach our students,” Drake continued.

In 2010 Stoker was awarded the Fletcher Pratt Award for best non-fiction Civil War book for his book, “Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War, 1861-1865.” The book has since been adopted by several graduate programs around the country and offers an in depth look into major operations and tactics within the Civil War from a strategic construct.

“Having Dr. Stoker as my professor for strategy and war has been a wonderful opportunity,”
said Army Capt. Eric Snyder, a first semester student at NWC Monterey. “He is extremely knowledgeable and clear with all his expectations. His classes are always interesting as he doesn’t necessarily lecture us, but gets us involved with discussions, and that makes tackling the information so much more engaging.”

For his years of work and dedication to the NWC, Stoker has been awarded the Navy Civilian Superior Service Award. From here, he will head to the Austrian Diplomatic Academy in Vienna to teach history and wartime strategy as part of the Fulbright Fellowship tour.

“Working at NPS has been an incredibly rewarding opportunity full of interesting students and interesting subjects, and it is going to be hard to finally go,” said Stoker. “Being able to teach people who have done so many things ... has been a once in a lifetime experience.”

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