UL alumna Dr. Cindy Courville, who served as the United States' first Ambassador to the African Union, received an honorary doctorate of Humanities from the University of Louisiana during the General Assembly Commencement on December 18.

Courville also served as the ceremony's keynote speaker. She received both a bachelor's and master's degree in political science from UL in the 1970s.

Currently, she serves as a professor at the National Defense Intelligence College in Washington D.C., where she teaches intelligence professionals, both military and civilian, to identify and effectively integrate foreign, military and domestic intelligence in defense of the U.S. homeland and of U.S. interests abroad.

Ambassador Courville was awarded the University of Denver’s Professional Achievement Award in March 2010 for outstanding professional achievement in the field of international relations. She developed an Africa Certificate Program for the National Defense Intelligence College scheduled to be launched in September 2011.

She was the first U.S. Ambassador to the African Union. During her tenure as ambassador she established, staffed and managed successfully the U.S. mission to the African Union (USAU), the fiftieth U.S. mission in Africa. Ambassador Courville negotiated and successfully worked with the chairman of the African Union to provide $2 million from the U.S. governance program to establish the African Union Democratic Electoral Assistance Unit and the Democratic Electoral Assistance Fund.

As the U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, she led the U.S. efforts to recruit African troop contributing countries and organized donor support countries to launch, deploy and sustain the African Union Mission to Somalia.

Prior to her ambassadorial appointment, Courville served as the special assistant to the president and senior director for African Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House. There, she developed and coordinated U. S. policy engagement with Africa.

Courville served as the chief U.S. negotiator and facilitator for what was the most successful crisis management effort by the U. S. government at the Foreign Ministerial level with the Republics of Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi which resulted in the withdrawal of external military forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo setting the stage for democratic elections.

She also served as the director for East African Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where she coordinated U.S. military and security policy with East Africa and the Horn of Africa. She represented the Department of Defense in matters involving the National Security Council and Department of State for national security policy on the Ethiopian and Eritrea border conflict. She served as a member of the Defense Crisis Management team and advised senior policymakers on the status of crisis prevention and management, including contingency planning and operations.

Courville has an extensive intelligence background. She served as a senior intelligence officer in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in the Office of the Chief of Staff, Directorate for Analysis and the Directorate for Human Intelligence. During her tenure as a senior intelligence officer, Courville analyzed the structures of African governments, political parties, national policies and foreign relations and identified their impact on the country's defense doctrine, strategy, and military structure to support U.S. policymakers’ decisions on military-to military engagement in Africa.

Prior to her career in government, Courville's professional experience included 10 years in the academic arena as an assistant professor in the Political Science Department at Hanover College in Indiana and Occidental College in Los Angeles. She has both published and spoken in various public and private forums about U.S. foreign policy in Africa.

Ambassador Courville was an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Zimbabwe; a Shell Oil Fellow at the University of Denver; a Ford Minority Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of California at Los Angeles; recognized by the University of Denver as an outstanding teacher she was awarded the Golden Apple Award; Department of Defense Executive Leadership Development Program Fellow; and International Career Advancement Professional Mid-Career Fellow.

In addition to her degrees from UL , Courville received a M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Politics and International Relations from the University of Denver's Joseph Korbel School of International Studies.

This is a submitted article.  Send your press releases and articles on UL, the UL District, and quality of life in Acadiana-- particularly education & culture-- to ultoday.com by clicking here.