He’s earned three Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars, and the Medal of Honor, which is the nation’s highest combat decoration. He’s an on-air analyst for NBC News and holds the Melcher Chair of Humanities and Public Affairs at the U.S. Military Academy. He’s also a proud Rutgers alumnus. “When I think about the things that have stood me in good stead,” says Colonel Jack Jacobs, U.S. Army Ret., “I think of ways of looking at a problem that I learned at Rutgers.”

The statement is poignant, given what Jacobs RC’66, GSNB’72 (and a 2003 inductee into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni) endured as a military adviser in Vietnam—particularly the day he took over command from a wounded superior officer, single-handedly fought off enemy attackers, and restored his unit to combat effectiveness. Jacobs had the maturity and presence of mind to withstand these harrowing experiences, in part, because Rutgers was the place “where I learned to be a grown up,” he says, citing “an emotional bond with Rutgers … that is still important to me.”

So when he was asked to join President Robert Barchi and Rutgers law professor John J. Farmer Jr. for “Leadership in Global Security,” an RUAA-hosted panel discussion held in March, the answer was easy. “Not only was I in spectacular company, but it was a chance to be in the presence of other alumni across a wide spectrum of ages and disciplines,” he says. “That kind of opportunity doesn’t come along very often.”

Jacobs sees events like these as a way to help “the next generation of alumni become intellectually honest, productive citizens” and to highlight “the quality of intellectual thought at the university.”