Alan Kessler, current active officer of the CIA, is UT’s first resident intelligence officer and teaches at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Kessler started this semester as the first officer to take part in the CIA’s new Visiting Intelligence Officers Program, which sends resident intelligence officers to teach at universities and serve as resources for those interested in the CIA.
Before working for the CIA in the Directorate of Analysis, an office that provides intelligence analysis to inform U.S. policy decisions, Kessler taught government at UT.
“It’s good to be back,” Kessler said. “I like UT and Austin.”
The CIA implemented similar programs in the past, such as the Officer-in-Residence program, which mostly sent senior officers looking to retire into academia, said Stephen Slick, director of the UT Intelligence Studies Project.
“The new program, as I understand, will involve officers at an earlier stage in their career,” Slick said. “Professor Kessler is at the midpoint in his professional career as an intelligence analyst.”
This program benefits both students and the intelligence officers, Slick said.
“It’s an opportunity for both the students here at the school to learn from a serving officer who’s at an intermediate stage in a professional career,” Slick said. “For that officer, it’s an opportunity to go offline, get out of Washington, spend some time with young people (and) maybe conduct some original research.”
As the RIO, Kessler can inform students interested in the CIA about its internship possibilities. Kessler said students often express interest in the CIA their third or fourth year, which might be too late for internships.
“The issue is that students often don’t know about it soon enough,” Kessler said.
Public affairs graduate student George Basaly said he wants to take Kessler’s class, “Thinking, Writing and Briefing for Intelligence.”
“The CIA … has such a unique and advanced writing style that it’s worth learning how to brief and think like an intelligence officer,” Basaly said.
After meeting Kessler, Basaly said he was surprised by his friendliness.
“You have this impression of what a CIA officer is, and how they’re portrayed in the movies and the TV shows,” Basaly said. “But then when I walked into Professor Kessler’s office, it kind of just debunked everything I thought a CIA officer was. He was super approachable, super helpful, he seems like he really, really cares about a student’s learning experience, which I’m also pretty excited about.”