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Bradley L. Coleman
John A. Adams Center
P:  (540) 464-7447
P:  (540) 464-7338
F: (540) 464-7246

Virginia Military Institute
541 Scott Shipp Hall
Lexington, VA  24450


The Adams Center organizes conferences, symposia, and invited lectures to heighten awareness of the enduring importance of Cold War military history and strategic analysis. Events are designed to promote interaction among VMI cadets, Cold War scholars, and national security professional. All are open to the public. 

Recent Events

 Dr. Gordon Ball Spring Speaker Series: Dr. Gordon Ball 

"The Beat Generation and the Cold War: An American  Literary Response to Crisis"

 March 26, 2015

 Location: George C. Marshall Research Library

  Lecture was available to audiences around the world via livestream. Watch recorded lecture here 

Gordon Ball

A revolutionary literary movement, the Beat Generation transformed American life and letters during the early cold war period. Complex historical, cultural, and religious developments shaped Beat Generation writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Bob Dylan. Those authors, in turn, challenged the predominant American cold war culture. Professor Gordon Ball will explore the organizing themes, notions of style, and lasting impact of the Beat Generation, as he considers its response to the nuclear arms race, the Red Scare, and other cultural and political realities of the era.

Colonel Gordon Ball is a professor of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies at the Virginia Military Institute. A graduate of Davidson College (A.B.) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (M.A., Ph.D.), Ball is an internationally recognized authority on the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and the literature of the Beat Generation, an award-winning filmmaker, and a widely exhibited and published photographer. He is the author of East Hill Farm: Seasons with Allen Ginsberg (Counterpoint, 2011); Dark Music (Cityful Press, 2006), and ’66 Frames: A Memoir (Coffee House Press, 1999). He has also edited three books with poet Allen Ginsberg, including Allen Verbatim: Lectures on Poetry, Politics, Consciousness (McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1974), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

The event is sponsored by the
John A. Adams ’71 Center for Military History & Strategic Analysis
and John Biggs ’30 Cincinnati Chair in Military History

This event is free and open to the public  

 Previous Events

Adm. Stavridis The Enduring Legacy: Leadership and National Security Affairs During The Ronald Reagan Era 

November 3-4, 2014

“The Enduring Legacy: Leadership and National Security Affairs during the Ronald Reagan Era” Conference will bring together scholars and national security professionals to discuss strategy, policy, and leadership during the Reagan administration. It will feature a keynote address by former NATO commander Admiral James Stavridis, USN (ret.), and a dinner presentation by former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack F. Matlock, Jr. In addition, five panels of historians and former Reagan administration officials will be present to examine aspects of the Reagan presidency and make connections between the Cold War and contemporary national security affairs.

For more on the event, see the conference website


Americanizing our Allies: U.S. Military Advisors during the Cold War

Nathaniel Weber, PhD Candidate, Texas A&M University

July 16, 2014

Nathaniel Weber is a doctoral candidate in history at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. He won the 2014 Adams-Collins dissertation grant, annually awarded by the John A. Adams ’71 Center for Military History & Strategic Analysis at the Virginia Military Institute to encourage innovative scholarship on Cold War topics. His talk examines the strategic role of the U.S. Military's advisory groups as they worked with partner nation military forces around the world. In doing so, Nathaniel Weber will also discuss  important related archival materials available at the George C. Marshall Research Library.


Drill, Tradition, and Sweat: Developing the Intellectual Officer at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst 

Sean McKnight, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst  

April 24, 2014

Sean McKnight is the Director of Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst with responsibility for the Academic Faculty, the Sandhurst Collection, and the Library. Sean McKnight’s talk provided an introduction to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where all officers in the British Army are trained to take on the responsibilities of leading the soldiers under their command.


Spring Lecture Series: Dr. David Crist, The Joint Staff 

The United States and Iran: Is a New Relationship Possible?

March 26, 2014

Dr. David Crist currently serves as senior historian for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dr. Crist is also a Middle East Scholar and recognized expert on Iran and defense issues. The relationship between the United States and Iran has been full of tension for the past thirty-five years, although it has not always been this way; Iran was once the most important U.S. ally in the Middle East. Dr. David Crist explored the past, present, and future of this complex international situation in his lecture. 


The Southern Military School Tradition: Southern Values and the Founding of VMI

Dr. Rod Andrew, Clemson University

January 20,  2014

Dr. Rod Andrew Jr. is a Professor of History at Clemson University and a former active duty officer and colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Many outsiders view southern military schools like VMI as anachronisms, or conservative throwbacks to the past; Professor Andrew reflected on how Victorian understandings of the virtues of duty, honor, and respect for lawful authority influenced the development of VMI and what that legacy might mean for VMI today. 


Spring Lecture Series: Col. David Glantz 

The German-Soviet War: Myths and Realities 

March 7, 2013 

Col. David Glantz ’63 is the former Chief of Research at the U.S. Army’s Combat Studies Institute and the country’s foremost expert on Soviet military history. Col. Glantz used his knowledge and expertise to distinguish between fact and fiction in the German-Soviet War. 


Symposium on U.S.-Latin American Security Relations 

February 14, 2013 

The Adams Center cohosted a symposium on U.S.-Latin American security relations with the Wheatley Institution (Brigham Young University, BYU) in February 2013. The symposium was held on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah and featured a keynote address on hemispheric security by Dr. Frank Mora, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Five VMI cadets participated in the symposium.

BYU Visit