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Editor's note: James Engle is one of the recipients of the American Association of Community Colleges' 2012 Outstanding Alumni Award. They will be honored Monday night at the annual AACC convention in Orlando, Fla.
Few people are as dedicated to our country’s diplomatic service as Ambassador James Engle.
He served 46 years in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps, including 35 years of living overseas in 18 different countries, serving under nine U.S. presidents. He retired as an "FS01," the highest rank in the corps.
Engle’s military record is just as impressive, having volunteered for military service in 10 wars and served in five.
With 18 years of higher education to his credit, Engle demonstrates the benefits of a world-class education. He graduated first in his class from Burlington Junior College (now Southeastern Community College) in Iowa, and then attended the University of Chicago, where he majored in political science—again graduating first in his class.
Later, Engle attended Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration, Oxford University at Exeter College (on a Rhodes Scholarship), the Instituto Itliano Studi Storici (as a Fulbright Scholar), Cambridge University at Kings College (on a Rockefeller Public Service Award—the highest award in the U.S. federal service) and the U.S. Department of State’s War College, among others. He was the first Rhodes Scholar to receive a Fulbright Scholarship.
His start in Asia
During and after World War II, Engle served in the Navy and was involved in the occupation of Japan. He also helped to administer the Marshall Plan and the “Battle for Europe” to prevent the spread of communism.
Assisting in establishing the NATO South Command, Engle also supported the development of NATO. During the Vietnam War, he was a province senior advisor—responsible for coordinating military and civilian allied operations in Phu Yen—and later served as consul general in Nha Trang.
Engle also served as director for the Vietnam Working Group, which managed the Department of State’s role in the Vietnam War, with additional involvement in Cambodia and Laos.
Right place, right time
Engle participated in many of the seminal events of the 20th Century, including the opening of Africa in the early 1960s and the Alliance for Progress in Latin America. In 1967, as Charge d’Affaires in Managua, he was literally the last American official in Latin American to promote the Alliance for Progress.
Engle assisted with the development of third-world countries, managing or sharing management of aid programs in seven countries and the Peace Corps in three. He was also involved in negotiations to expand free trade and was director of U.S. representation for the U.S.-Saudi Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation, which worked toward modernizing Saudi Arabia.
Retired since 1987, Engle now lives in Vermont with his wife, Priscilla. They have six children. As a father, he actively promoted the importance of education, as well as advocating world citizenship and cultural awareness. His children now live and work all over the world.
Copyright ©2012 American Association of Community Colleges