Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ronald L. Burgess, Jr., was commissioned in Military Intelligence through the Auburn University ROTC Program in 1974. He earned a Master of Science degree in Education from the University of Southern California in 1980, and a Master of Military Arts and Science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1986.
Lieutenant General Burgess held a variety of key staff and command positions throughout his 38 year military career. General officer assignments include Director of Intelligence, J2, U.S. Southern Command; Director of Intelligence, J2, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Customer Out- comes transitioning to Director of the Intelligence Staff in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He was dual-hatted twice as the Acting Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence. His final military assignment was as the 17th Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
He joined Auburn University on December 1, 2012, as Senior Counsel for National Security Programs, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs. In this capacity he works across the university to interface and coordinate with federal, state and commercial entities on all matters related to these areas.
His personal awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (Two Oak Leaf Clusters), Defense Superior Service Medal (Two Oak Leaf Clusters), Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (Four Oak Leaf Clusters,) Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, NATO Medal—former Republic of Yugoslavia, Parachutist Badge, Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge and Army Staff Identification Badge.
Q: What does a routine day at the Recreation and Wellness Center consist of for you?
A: A routine day consists of some short stretching exercises, 25-40 minutes on the elliptical machine, a series of repetitions on 4 to 5 weight machines and a little free weight lifting. Sometimes I will walk the track or add sit-ups and push-ups just to change it up a little.
Q: How does it differ from your military exercise regimen?
A: I did a lot more running in the military because my cardiovascular workout was always running, as I still had good knees then and I would go anywhere from 4 to 7 miles normally. I also did more calisthenics as I did not work out in a gym facility and thus had limited access to weights and machines.
Q: Can you give us some detail about your current role at Auburn University as senior counsel for national security programs, cyber programs and military affairs?
A: My role is to look across the university and try and connect students, professors, departments or colleges with likeminded individuals here at the university or with industry or government in areas of shared interest or concern. This connection can be initiated by Auburn or by outside entities. Because of my background I also focus specifically on those three areas looking to advise Auburn leadership where appropriate. I specifically focus on cyber issues because it has become such a part of our everyday life and it is an area that is a national security concern for this nation and for its citizens.
Q: If you could be any piece of workout equipment, what would it be and why?
A: I’ve never really thought about being a piece of workout equipment because I’ve always thought of myself as being the result of working out on workout equipment. I guess I would say it would be the universal machine because that machine has the ability to work out the total body and that is what you are looking for in a workout regimen. Sound mind-sound body = a healthy body.
Q: Finish this sentence: "What was I thinking when...?"
A: I decided to start training for a marathon.
Q: If I’m not at the Recreation and Wellness Center, you can find me...
A: Either at work or clearing my property in my spare time.
Q: What is one of your favorite memories from your 38-year military career?
A: My favorite memory from my days in the military is the fantastic men and women, military and civilian, that I had the privilege to serve alongside of protecting, defending and serving this nation.
Q: What is one of your favorite memories from your time as an Auburn University student?
A: I had many favorite memories from my days at Auburn. I believed in the total Auburn college experience (hence my GPA being what it was), but I would have to pick being present at the 1972 Iron Bowl with my college girlfriend and now wife, Marta.
Q: What do you enjoy most about living in Auburn?
A: I enjoy being in and around the school I love, the advantages that a major university affords, the quality of life in the local area, and the closeness to family and friends.
Q: What three words would your wife use to describe you?
A: Predictable, thrifty and eye candy.