George Mason University

News at Mason

Former CIA acting director Michael Morell joins Mason as a senior fellow

January 28, 2019   /   by Mariam Aburdeineh

Michael Morell

Michael Morell, former acting and deputy director of the CIA, has joined George Mason University as a senior fellow at the Schar School of Policy and Government.

In addition to giving guest lectures in university classes, he will moderate and host events with the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security while the center’s founder, former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden, recovers from a stroke that took place last November.

“Michael Morell is one of a small number of former high-level public servants who are very skilled at advancing public understanding of contemporary policy issues and do so without any political or ideological agenda,” said Schar School dean Mark J. Rozell. “That makes him the ideal person to join the Schar School as a visiting fellow, especially given his expertise on security and intelligence issues that are central to our international security studies program.”

Morell served as General Hayden’s head of analysis in the CIA. He’s also served under every president since Ronald Reagan. His 33-year career in national intelligence includes three years as CIA deputy director, during which he twice served as acting director.

Morell is the host of a weekly podcast called Intelligence Matters, a senior counselor at the strategic advisory firm Beacon Global Strategies, an on-air contributor in intelligence and national security for CBS News, a contributing columnist for the Washington Post and an author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism—From Al Qa‘ida to ISIS.” Of everything he’s done since leaving government in 2013, spending time on college campuses with students interested in national security is the most meaningful, he said.

“Students are our future—I love talking to students, answering their questions and inspiring them, and I am eager to do so through the Hayden Center,” Morell said. “I’m also looking forward to being involved at the Hayden Center because it is not only about educating students, but it is also about educating the broader American public on the importance of intelligence and the intelligence community, both often ambiguous and inaccessible because of their ‘secrecy.’”

Hayden, the only person to serve as both the head of the CIA and the NSA, founded the Hayden Center in 2017 for students to understand the role of intelligence and its interplay with national security. Since then, the center has been known for its events that allow students to hear from and engage with leading intelligence and national security experts on current issues.

Morell has great admiration for Hayden and said he’s honored to step in and pick up some of Hayden’s duties as he recovers. Between helping Hayden and the students, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be spending some time at George Mason,” he said.

[Hayden is] working hard at his recovery and is grateful for all the well wishes and prayers from the [Mason] and Schar School communities,” said Larry Pfeiffer, who directs the Hayden Center. “He’s eager to get back to work.”

In the meantime, Morell said he’s brainstorming ideas, resources and events that students interested in a career in national intelligence should be on the lookout for.