Retired General Paul Nakasone named founding director of Institute for National Defense and Global Security

Vanderbilt University is proud to announce the launch of the Institute for National Defense and Global Security. The founding director and leader of the institute will be retired General Paul M. Nakasone, who has served as commander of U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency, and chief of the Central Security Service.

Paul Nakasone

Recognized as one of the “nation’s founding cyberwarriors,” Nakasone brings deep intelligence and operational expertise with a broad understanding of emerging threats to U.S. national security and global stability. He is a highly sought after thought leader and was the keynote speaker at the Vanderbilt Summit on Modern Conflict and Emerging Threats in 2023.

Universities have a crucial role to play—alongside governmental agencies and private industry—in facing some of the most challenging issues of our time, according to Nakasone.

“The security landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace and in unknown directions. To meet these challenges, it is imperative that we approach them in a highly interdisciplinary way,” said Nakasone, who will also hold an academic appointment in the School of Engineering as Distinguished Research Professor of Engineering Science and Management and will serve as special advisor to the chancellor. “Vanderbilt’s collaborative culture is one of the university’s great strengths. And it is this concept of working across many different fields and forging key partnerships that will guide us as we build the institute.”

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier heralded Nakasone’s appointment, noting that he is among the world’s foremost authorities on global security and cyber warfare.

“It is an immense honor to have someone as accomplished and highly decorated as General Nakasone transition from his lifelong service to the nation to leading Vanderbilt’s Institute for National Defense and Global Security,” Diermeier said. “General Nakasone’s record of achievement in the area of cybersecurity is unmatched. He has been a critical figure in supporting our national defense—and has done so with unprecedented speed and efficiency.

Nakasone and Diermeier pointed to the pressing need to address emerging threats from a wide perspective—encompassing not only battlefield innovations but also disruptions to society, such as election meddling, pandemics and ransomware attacks—during unprecedented times.