Irwin gets rare promotion in Army

Courtesy Photo. Lew Irwin was promoted to Major General in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Courtesy Photo. Lew Irwin was promoted to Major General in the U.S. Army Reserve.

By Carolyn Conte | The Duquesne Duke

After 28 years in the military, political science professor Lew Irwin has earned the rare title of Major General in the U.S. Army Reserve.

As Major General, Irwin commands approximately 12,500 soldiers in 175 different units west of the Mississippi River, specifically leading the 416th Theater Engineer Command in Darien, Ill. The position will often require weekly plane trips.

Major General is a two-star rank in the military, ranking above brigadier and below lieutenant. There are 99 major generals on active duty in the country. The president commissions officers for the rank, while the Senate confirms the appointment.

Irwin said his selection was the result of “a heck of a lot of hard work” and the support of others.

“The odds are really stacked against you in terms of the sheer number of officers that are in the force,” Irwin said. “So again, you work hard, you develop yourself, but you also benefit from having great people around you and having the right opportunities at the right time.”

A civil engineering graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Irwin has also earned degrees from Yale University and the U.S. Army War College. Irwin found that he loved education after completing an Army assignment by teaching at West Point.

Irwin is currently an adjunct professor of research at the U.S. Army War Colleges Strategic Studies Institute. He also teaches politics and public policy classes at Duquesne, where he has taught since 2000.

Looking to the future, Irwin said he hopes to be able to serve in the Army at the most senior levels.

“It’s really not about me, it’s about where we together – myself and my teammates –will take the Army,” Irwin said.

Political science chair and associate professor Patricia Dunham said Irwin is a “very disciplined, very organized and very smart man.”

“In whatever he does, he’s trying to make things better for other people,” Dunham said.

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