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Political Science Department

Honorable William C. Ostendorff, Class of 1960 Distinguished Visiting Professor

Captain William C. Ostendorff (USN-Ret) joined the Naval Academy’s Political Science Department as the Class of 1960 Distinguished Visiting Professor in National Security in August 2016. In the fall of 2016, he is teaching a senior seminar in Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security. In the spring of 2017, he will teach a seminar on Congress and National Security Decision Making and will be part of a faculty team teaching a seminar course in Nuclear Science, Technology, Engineering, and Policy.

Captain Ostendorff has been confirmed by the United States Senate on three occasions to serve in senior administration posts in both Republican and Democratic administrations. He served as Principal Deputy Administrator at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in the Bush Administration (2007-2009) and as a Commissioner at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2010-2016) in the Obama Administration prior to joining the Naval Academy faculty.

At the NRC, Commissioner Ostendorff was a strong proponent of regulatory technical competence. He was considered by many to be a key leader on the Commission in the areas of post-Fukushima regulatory decision-making and in both physical and cybersecurity of commercial nuclear facilities. During his over six years as a Commissioner, he testified before Congress on twenty-six occasions and gave over 180 speeches in the U.S. and abroad on nuclear safety and security.

At NNSA, Captain Ostendorff served as Central Technical Authority for nuclear safety and as Chief Operating Officer of the agency. He played a significant leadership role in developing the future vision for the nation’s national security laboratories and in evaluating options for nuclear weapons complex modernization.

From 2003 to 2007, he was a member of the staff of the House Armed Services Committee. There, he served as counsel and staff director for the Strategic Forces Subcommittee with oversight responsibilities for the Department of Energy's Atomic Energy Defense Activities as well as the Department of Defense's space, missile defense and intelligence programs. He served as staff chair for dozens of hearings at both the subcommittee and full committee level including highly visible hearings on the 9/11 Commission, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission and other hearings associated with US strategic forces. 

Captain Ostendorff was an officer in the United States Navy from 1976 until he retired in 2002. Entering the Rickover Nuclear Navy, he served on six submarines. During his naval career, he commanded a nuclear attack submarine, a nuclear attack submarine squadron and served as Director of the Division of Mathematics and Science at the United States Naval Academy. His military decorations include four awards of the Legion of Merit and numerous unit and campaign awards. 

He earned a bachelor degree in systems engineering from the United States Naval Academy, a law degree from the University of Texas and a master in international and comparative law from Georgetown University. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas.

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