MSC Student Conference on National Affairs

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MSC Student Conference on National Affairs
SCONA Logo w- no background.png
Genre Foreign Affairs Conferences
Venue Campus of Texas A&M University
Location(s) College Station, Texas
Country United States
Attendance 150 delegates from 30+ Universities

The MSC Student Conference on National Affairs (MSC SCONA) is an annual opportunity for students across Texas, the nation, and the world to exchange ideas and discuss the role of the United States in the global community.

MSC SCONA was founded in 1955 by John Jenkins '56 and Bud Whitney '56, senior students in the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets, after they had attended the 6th Student Conference on United States Affairs (SCUSA) at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Jenkins and Whitney sought to bring in students from the South to a similar conference held at Texas A&M to would allow those students to engage in an experience as valuable as West Point's but closer to home.[1][2][3]

SCONA 1's keynote speaker was United States Army Major General William J. Donovan, founder of the WWII-era Office of Strategic Services that later became the Central Intelligence Agency. [1] The highest ranking military officer to speak at an MSC SCONA conference was in 2015 with then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff GEN Martin Dempsey, USA. [4][5][6] The most prestigious civilian was then-Vice President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas for SCONA 8. [1]

Organization and Partnerships[edit]


Each year, MSC SCONA adopts a relevant topic to guide discussions, anchor policy proposals, and provide inspiration for the conference speakers and facilitators. The approximately 150 delegates represent universities across the United States and commonly include the Federal Service Academies, the seven United States Senior Military Colleges, and top schools from across the Southeastern Conference.

Although MSC SCONA once included delegates from local high schools as well as from Mexico and Canada, both practices have since been discontinued. Since at least as far back as the time of SCONA Finance Chairman Henry Cisneros, later the Secretary of United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, members of the committee have traveled to cities across Texas to raise private funds to operate the conference.[7]

The conference is organized and run by a committee of Texas A&M University students. These students, many of them from the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets and the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service, serve as delegates, roundtable hosts, and conference staff members. MSC SCONA became racially integrated fully in 1961, several years before the University as a whole.[8]

Strategic Partnerships[edit]

MSC SCONA has an enduring partnership with the Student Conference on U.S. Affairs (SCUSA) [9] at the United States Military Academy at West Point as well as the 55th Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.[10][11] At SCONA 8, one of the roundtable facilitators was U.S. Army Colonel Rocco M. Paone, the founding director of NAFAC just a year before.[12][13] Although Professors from Texas A&M and other schools often serve as facilitators, only SCONA 36 on the future of European integration has received scholarly notice.[14]

Since 2011, MSC SCONA has partnered with the United States Army War College to hold a pre-conference exercise called the International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise (ISCNE).[15][16] In previous years, this experience has focused on international conflicts like that of the Nagorno-Karabakh region (2018) and the island of Cyprus.[17][18]

The Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service and MSC SCONA have a long standing relationship beyond student leadership to include speakers such as former Dean Amb. Ryan Crocker, speaking at SCONA 56 in 2011 and 61 in 2016.[19][20] Amb. Napper, a Bush School professor, has also had a leading role in the ISCNE.[21]

In 2017, United States Army officers and civilian staff modified the exercise, renamed the Domestic Crisis Strategic Response Exercise (DCSRE), in order to better complement SCONA 62's topic of homeland security. Speakers at the latest conference include Commandant of the Marines Gen. Robert Neller, USMC, Director of the National Security Agency Adm. Michael S. Rogers, USN, Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory Charles F. McMillan, and Islamic reformer Tawfik Hamid.[22][23]


  1. ^ a b c Bacon, Amy (2009). Building Leaders, Living Traditions: The Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M. College Station, Texas: TAMU Press. ISBN 978-1-60344-095-0. 
  2. ^ "The Eagle from Bryan, Texas on November 28, 1962 · Page 10". Retrieved 2017-05-29. 
  3. ^ "The Eagle from Bryan, Texas on November 28, 1962 · Page 1". Retrieved 2017-05-29. 
  4. ^ "Former Joint Chiefs chairman: 'No magic bullet' in war on ISIS". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  5. ^ "Dempsey: Russia, Terrorists, Cyber Among Top Threats". U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  6. ^ "Great Leadership is a Constant, Dempsey Tells Texas A&M Cadets". U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  7. ^ Kemper, Diehl (1985). Cisneros: Portrait of a New American. San Antonio, Texas: Corona Publishing Company. ISBN 0931722373. OCLC 11549323. 
  8. ^ Curtis, Gerald (Dec 15, 1961). "The New Mexico Lobo". The New Mexico Lobo. Retrieved May 28, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Student Conference on US Affairs - Home". Retrieved 2017-05-28. 
  10. ^ "The Eagle from Bryan, Texas on October 29, 1971 · Page 12". Retrieved 2017-05-28. 
  11. ^ "MSC Extra! Spring 2015 - Documents". Retrieved 2017-05-28. 
  12. ^ "The Eagle from Bryan, Texas on August 19, 1962 · Page 5". Retrieved 2017-05-29. 
  13. ^ "The Eagle from Bryan, Texas on November 28, 1962 · Page 10". Retrieved 2017-05-29. 
  14. ^ "The MSC Student Conference on National Affairs/The European Community: Piecing the Puzzle Together". European Community Studies Association. 3–4: 19. 1990. 
  15. ^ "ISCNE Program" (PDF). Center for Strategic Leadership, US Army War College. May 2011. Retrieved 5/26/17.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  16. ^ Distribution, - Press Release. " - Press Release Distribution - PR Agency". Retrieved 2017-05-27. 
  17. ^ White, Samuel (05/01/2011). "Developing a Diplomatic Corps that is Second-to-None" (PDF). Center for Strategic Leadership. U.S. Army War College. Retrieved 9/11/2017.  Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)
  18. ^ "Winnefeld to speak at A&M conference". The Eagle. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  19. ^ "National Student Conference To Focus On Crucial Problems Facing U. S | Texas A&M Today". Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  20. ^ "TAMU to Host Army War College Exercise". Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  21. ^ Falls, Clay. "Students Practice Diplomacy at U.S. Army War College Exercise". Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  22. ^ Fiedler, Rebecca. "Students Exchange ideas at the Student Conference on National Affairs at Texas A&M". The Eagle. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  23. ^ Handel, Jonathan. "SCONA hosts delegates from 22 universities in annual conference". The Battalion. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 

External links[edit]