Andrew Bacevich to retire this August from BU

tags: Andrew Bacevich, Boston University



During his 16 years at BU, Andrew Bacevich has become one of the University’s most public faces. The half dozen books he wrote while here—on the role of the United States and that of the US military in the world—landed the former Army colonel on television shows such as The Colbert Report and PBS’s Moyers and Company, while making him a staple of newspaper op-ed pages. His from-the-get-go opposition to the war in Iraq became especially poignant when his son, First Lieutenant Andrew Bacevich (CGS’01, COM’03), who had followed his father’s example by enlisting in the military, died in that conflict. His grieving father compared his son’s service with his own antiwar stance, writing, “As my son was doing his utmost to be a good soldier, I strove to be a good citizen.”

Bacevich, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of international relations and of history turns 67 next month. He will retire as of August 31, but he won’t vanish completely. His MOOC on the Middle East will launch in the fall, requiring him to be available online to students. He’ll also continue his participation in a history department lecture series–study group in the coming academic year.

“My wife and I like living in New England, so we’re staying here. We aren’t going to Florida,” he says.

BU was Bacevich’s third academic tour of duty, following a 1970s stint at West Point, his alma mater, and one at Johns Hopkins in the 1990s. His 23 years in the Army before that included service in the Vietnam War. In an interview with BU Today, he reflects on his military and academic careers and the deteriorating situation in Iraq, where ISIS, a militant Sunni group that even al-Qaeda has disowned, has taken swaths of the country from the Shiite Muslim government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

BU Today: Why did you decide to leave BU at this point in your career?

Bacevich: I have emphatically enjoyed my time on the faculty. I’m exceedingly grateful for the way the University has treated me and my family. I am not leaving with any complaints. But I increasingly feel that I’m losing my edge as a teacher.

How does a teacher measure that?

It’s more of a gut feel than anything else. I don’t feel as much energy and enthusiasm as I did 10 years ago. Students deserve your very best. I’m not sure that I’ve got my very best to offer anymore. Along with that, I increasingly want to write more. That’s what gives me satisfaction in life. To conjure up ideas and then to compose, to do the hard work of translating an idea or an insight into an argument and into readable prose, is something that I find to be a great challenge, but a source of considerable satisfaction. To a BU student, 67 seems very old, but if you’re 67, it doesn’t seem very old. We all have a limited time available, so I decided that for whatever time I do have left, I want to devote my energies to writing books and articles...



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