More From the Pentagon

Daniel Walsh, Ph.D. ’00, talks philosophy, trust, leadership, mission, chemistry and more in a web exclusive interview.

Daniel Walsh, Ph.D. ’00 with Pentagon law enforcement officers
Daniel Walsh, Ph.D. ’00 with Pentagon law enforcement officers

On taking philosophy classes with J. Patrick Mohr, S.J., at Scranton 

“Some of the lessons that I learned in those classes I think about on the regular, in daily life. He had the ability to tie our lessons into something a little bit higher, something a little bit more. That’s really special stuff. Not every class, not every training you go to leaves you with the kind of lessons or the kind of guidance that you can draw on your whole life.” 

On deciding to go to Scranton 

“I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t want to go to Scranton. I wanted to get out of town and go somewhere new, but my parents suggested I go and check it out and give it a little more thought. I went over. I was doing all the tours that you do in high school. And it just kind of resonated with me. I fell in love with the school.” 

On meeting his wife at Scranton 

“That’s about as big of an impact I think you’re going to get, and that’s the most important thing.” 

On leading an agency like the PFPA 

“When something bad happens, trust and confidence come in. (Employees) keep marching alongside you. When things are very dynamic, when things are moving fast, when things are uncertain, that’s what you have to have to get through those things. That’s the way I try to conduct myself and the standard I try to hold myself to. And it’s not perfect, you know. It’s the person I aspire to be.” 

"(J. Patrick Mohr, S.J.) had the ability to tie our lessons into something a little bit higher, something a little bit more. That’s really special stuff."

On the mission 

“Our job is to keep this mission going, to keep this building safe and all its tenants safe, and the missions in this facility safe, and to make the most supportive environment that we can for those folks. There are some people with some big jobs facing global challenges. If they don’t feel safe, if their work is disrupted, and the business of the building cannot go on, a lot of bad things follow.” 

On leading a law enforcement agency as a chemist 

“I wouldn’t plan it — I wouldn’t recommend this being the course to take for anybody — but a lot of people who I went undergrad and grad in chemistry with have ended up in a lot of interesting career fields very far away from the laboratory bench. I don’t think it’s that uncommon.” 

On having a winding career path 

“I think if I was going back and talking to students — or even an alumnus who asked — I think it’s something that young people don’t get told enough, that it’s OK to have a winding path. The people that I work with in this building, especially folks that come out of the military, have sometimes two, three, four whole different careers. It’s one life but so many different hats that they wear, especially in this building. It’s a special thing, especially in this building, in this department, to see all this breadth of experience. A lot of folks, especially here, when they signed up to join the service, never expected to wind up where they are.” 

On the challenges of the pandemic 

“What I really hope for — hopefully sometime soon — is a little bit of a return to normal, to get back to some of the things that we lost over the pandemic. The people that work for this agency have done the job. In this business, there’s not a lot of telework going on. These people showed up every day unquestioningly. They’re just incredible.” 

On the Capitol riot 

“It was certainly a memorable day – a challenging one – but it was one like so many others you try to learn from. When these big events happen, folks have to show up the next day. You have a job to do. The inauguration followed not too long after. And you try to support your partners as best as you can in this community.”  

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