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Distinguished Army leader, educator receiving honorary degree from Kansas State University

Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019


MANHATTAN — Kansas State University will honor retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Chris King, the dean emeritus of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, with an honorary degree at the university's fall commencement ceremonies.

The Kansas Board of Regents, at its meeting Sept. 18, approved the university's request to present King with an honorary Doctor of Philosophy. King will receive the honor at the Graduate School commencement ceremony, which will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, in Bramlage Coliseum. He also will serve as the commencement speaker.

Carol Shanklin, dean of the K-State Graduate School, said King distinguished himself both as a longtime Army officer involved in environmental health risk assessment to keep U.S. troops safe across the world, as well as in academia where he helped shape the Army's future leaders. He also was supportive of K-State programs offered at Fort Leavenworth.

"The Graduate School's administrators valued our partnership with Dr. King when he served as dean of the Command and General Staff College," Shanklin said. "He was supportive of our graduate programs and instrumental in providing K-State many opportunities to expand our military collaborations at Fort Leavenworth."

King was commissioned into the Army's Ordnance Corps in 1972 after completing his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at Tennessee Technological University. In 1974 he completed his master's in civil engineering-environmental, also from Tennessee Tech, and entered active duty as a sanitary engineer in the Army Medical Service Corps. He completed numerous assignments within the Army's Preventive Medicine Program and the Army Corps of Engineers, including working on the Army's Chemical Weapons Disposal Program in Huntsville, Alabama. He earned his doctorate in environmental engineering at the University of Tennessee in 1988 and served as chief of the Environmental Health Engineering Division, Army Environmental Hygiene Activity-West, in Aurora, Colorado. In 1991 he deployed as the officer in charge of the Southwest Asia Health Risk Assessment Team that determined the health risk to U.S. troops exposed to the smoke from the Kuwait oil fires and supported the restoration of Kuwait.

In November 1991, King became an academy professor and program director of the environmental engineering program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and in 1998 was named professor and head of the geography and environmental engineering department at the academy. His assignments include the Army chief of staff's crisis action team for the Rwanda relief mission as the medical operations planner in 1994. In 2005 he deployed to Afghanistan, assisting in the development of the new Afghanistan Military Academy through Office of Military Cooperation.

King's many honors include the Distinguished Service Medal; the American Academy of Environmental Engineering Honor Award for his work on the Kuwait health risk assessment; and the Army Science Award for outstanding research for his developments in geophysical subsurface remote sensing. In 2000, King completed his master's in national security and strategic studies at the Naval War College.

After retiring from active duty in 2006 at the rank of brigadier general, King was selected to serve as the dean and chief academic officer of the Army's Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. In 10 years of service at the college, King developed faculty academic credentialing standards, implemented modern academic assessment programs, and created an honors program focused on developing strategic leaders for the military and our nation. He is the first dean emeritus at the college.

A licensed professional engineer and board-certified by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers with a specialty in hazardous waste management, King is a founding member of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change. He also the author of two books: "Environmental Engineering P.E. Examination Guide and Handbook" and "Understanding International Environmental Security: A Strategic Military Perspective." In addition, he has published more than 15 book chapters and 30 journal articles and scientific reports. King has lectured at more than 50 professional conferences, including the technical sessions of the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, Oxford University on water wars, NATO and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe programs on environmental security, and international programs on professional military education.

King is a life member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, a longtime member of the Environmental Engineering Professional Engineering Exam Committee of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, and a founding member of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change.

In retirement, King now focuses his scholarly efforts on educating people on the extreme threats to peace and security posed by climate change and other human-caused environmental stressors. 


Carol Shanklin

News tip

Fort Leavenworth


Honorary degrees

Written by

Beth Bohn