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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Kenneth Stiles


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Kenneth Stiles, instructor of Geography, for his dedication to encouraging students to apply his teaching to reality; not just theory. Kenneth Stiles instructs on the facts and how systems “should” work, then provides additional details when possible regarding how a theory did or did not hold true. Students love the range of real world experiences he brings to the classroom.

Mr. Stiles has been teaching at Virginia Tech since the fall of 2010; first as the CIA's Officer in Residence [through Dec 2012], then as a professor for the Hume Center for National Security and the Department of Geography in the College of Natural Resources and Environment (CNRE).

Mr. Stiles teaches courses on the CIA, Intelligence and National Security, and the Geography of Conflicts. The courses have had between 40-75 students registered, and include students from a wide variety of years and majors. Mr. Stiles’ course requests are always over subscribed.

Mr. Stiles brings 29 years of experience working firsthand with the issues on which he instructs. He taught professional intelligence officers from throughout the Intelligence Community (IC), the US Military, and a number of foreign liaison services during those 29 years with the CIA.

Given his expertise with the content of his courses, Kenneth’s students engage with real world lessons; not just what has been written in books - one of the major accolades Kenneth has received in his SPOT evaluations.

One student, who has taken three courses with Mr. Stiles, including Geography of Global Conflicts, the CIA in Today’s World, and Intelligence and National Security, took the time to reflect on Kenneth’s impact as a teacher:

“Ken Stiles brings a remarkably unique perspective to academia and challenges the traditional classroom setting by incorporating his vast experience in the field of national security as a retired CIA employee. His passion creates an energetic atmosphere that goes unmatched to any other classroom I have been in. Ken Stiles is highly knowledgeable on the topics we discuss in the classroom and his stories allow students to grasp the application of technologies, policies, and both successes and failures of different operations. I often find myself in his office talking to him further about current events and topics relating to the Intelligence Community (IC), as well as seeking career advice. Ken Stiles is an incredible professor who students can learn a great deal from, just as I have, and I would highly recommend taking one of his courses, regardless of your future interest in the national security field.”

Another student similarly regarded Mr. Stiles’ courses as some of the best to be able to take at Virginia Tech, noting:

“I have always had an interest in the intelligence community, and Professor Stiles has opened my eyes to the intelligence community’s role in national security and international conflicts. Professor Stiles has the ability to grab everyone’s attention through his unique way of teaching. He teaches from his experiences and perspectives which he obtained from his career at the CIA. He always has intriguing stories to tell that allow his students to see the real world application of the concepts they are learning. It is because of him, and his help with the IC-CCAE (Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence) that I have been able to accept a conditional offer of employment. He has been a great resource and mentor and works hard to be of help to his students.”

It is not uncommon for students to reach back to connect and thank Mr. Stiles for helping them identify their interest and to find direction in their field. Following an acceptance into graduate school, one particular student made sure to recognize the mentorship found in Mr. Stiles:

“I’m tapping in to let you know that I heard back from Georgetown—and that I was accepted to their Security Studies Program! J I am absolutely thrilled with the news and eager to get started on my Master’s come January. My sincerest thanks to you for all of your assistance in this accomplishment. I could not have done it without the guidance you offered throughout my undergraduate career at Virginia Tech. Your CIA 101 class and the ICCAE were really what got me hooked on working in the IC; I’m sure I will continue to capitalize on what I learned at Georgetown.”

Last year, Kenneth was nominated by The HUME Center for the National Security Alliance (INSA) 2014 Joan A. Dempsey Mentorship Award. For more information, see:


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