Houghton College is pleased to announce the promotion of 1988 graduate Diane (Meserve) Dunn to the rank of brigadier general. She is the first Houghton College alumna to become a general officer in any of the Armed Forces. Dunn, the Assistant Adjutant General of the Maine Army National Guard, was promoted from colonel to brigadier general in a ceremony on July 30 at Camp Chamberlain in Augusta. In 2014, Dunn was the first woman to command a brigade in the Maine Army National Guard, and now, she is the first female general officer in the state’s 200-year history.
During the socially distanced and streamed ceremony, retired Army Lt. Col. Dr. Robert F. Danner joined virtually from Houghton, New York, to administer the oath of office to Dunn. The tradition held a special meaning to both Dunn and Danner as Danner originally administered the oath to Dunn at Houghton College when she was first commissioned 32 years ago through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. ROTC is a college-based program that develops the future leaders of America. Students who successfully earn a bachelor’s degree and complete all ROTC training become Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army. “I never knew when I signed up to take the Leadership 101 course at Houghton what this journey was going to be,” Dunn recalls.
“Diane, it’s great to be a part of your ceremony and to be here doing what we did 32 years ago,” said Danner. “I think I may be—other than your family—the only one who has watched your career from freshman year [in the Houghton ROTC program] through brig. general.”
Of Danner, Dunn writes, “His encouragement and support has never waned—not too many people can say they have had the same champion/mentor in their corner for 32 years.”
“No person, male or female, who went through the ROTC program at Houghton College has ever been promoted to general until Diane,” said Outgoing Professor of Military Science Lieutenant Colonel Sean D. Coulter. Coulter has been the Seneca Battalion Team Leader at St. Bonaventure University for the past four years and facilitated the technology that allowed Danner to connect to the live event in Augusta. He met Dunn in person several years ago when she came to Houghton to speak to students. “She is truly a servant-leader,” recalls Coulter. “She was equally comfortable mentoring me as a senior Officer of 20+ years as she was talking to an 18-year-old college freshman just trying out ROTC.”
“We congratulate Diane Dunn for this achievement, which represents not only her own faithful stewardship of her gifts but the respect she has earned from those around her over a sustained period,” stated Houghton College President Dr. Shirley A. Mullen ’76. “The college celebrates with gratitude her service to our country and the opportunities this new role will provide for her to shape the lives of hundreds of young men and women under her leadership.”
Maine National Guard Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Alyson J. Pelletier