Michael D. Sweazey

Michael Sweazy 4.jpg

New director of global operations brings Secret Service thinking to student safety overseas…

Georgia (Sep 4, 2015)New director of global operations brings Secret Service thinking to student safety overseas

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KENNESAW, Ga. (Sept. 4, 2015)—Kennesaw State students and faculty traveling abroad can rest a little easier when they venture into unfamiliar foreign lands to study and work. They now have the backing of Michael Sweazey, a veteran security expert who will examine global risks based on real-time intelligence and put in place protocols for what they should do in every emergency.

“It’s my job to be that little voice of caution in the back of the student’s and faculty’s minds when they are overseas dealing with issues,” said Sweazey, who joined the Division of Global Affairs as director of global operations in August. “Potential issues students may encounter on an education abroad program can be as minor as contracting food poisoning or as significant as getting caught in a natural disaster.”

During his 26 years in the U.S. Secret Service, Sweazey protected presidents, visiting heads of state and other high-level officials. He also managed the investigation of cyber and physical threats against individuals he was assigned to protect and investigated electronic crimes that threatened the U.S. computer infrastructure. His investigative duties extended to currency, check and other types of fraud involving the U.S. Treasury.

For five of those years, Sweazey had primary responsibility for the 24/7 protection of former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn. In that role, he planned for their protection in “hotspots” like Sudan, Palestine and Israel, in remote areas like Siberia, and in Argentina, Nepal and India.  His career is dotted with special assignments and accomplishments, including investigating Russian organized crime, making open-water rescues as a trained rescue swimmer, and training law enforcement staff from Macedonia, Romania and Croatia while in Budapest.

Sweazey’s unique skills and experience were evident to Kennesaw State officials when he and his team implemented security for Ghanaian President John Mahama’s visit to campus in 2013, according to Lance Askildson, vice provost for global affairs.  “Agent Sweazey helped coordinate all the advance planning and the logistics leading up to President Mahama’s vist, during his stay and for his departure.  We were very impressed with his level of expertise and skill.”

In his new role at Kennesaw State, Sweazey is responsible for establishing and enforcing a consistent set of risk management policies for education abroad programs.  He also will serve as a central point of contact for all questions about education abroad safety and emergency management.

“Mike Sweazey will be spending the next 18 months developing and codifying our practices to make sure students and faculty are informed when stepping into tricky situations,” Askildson said.

As he did in the Secret Service, Sweazey hopes to perform security sweeps — called advances — of any city, country or region students plan to visit.

“We want to make sure we know everything that is going on and that there is a plan in place,” Sweazey said. “Obviously, every situation is different and everything needs to be fluid. But, if you go overseas with a plan and something happens — whether it’s a weather-related issue, a medical thing or political violence — then we are already 90 percent of the way toward addressing it.”

Additionally, Sweazey plans to compile information on emergency services for each location Kennesaw State sends students and faculty. For example, he said, faculty need to know which hospital to use if a student gets sick or injured while studying abroad. Rather than simply providing program directors a listing of the closest hospitals, he will identify which area hospital is most equipped to treat the student, something he says can vary widely even in first-world countries.

In his office in the Division of Global Affairs, Sweazey maintains boards on the wall of his office, indicating that he already is tracking issues around the world that could lead to problems for Kennesaw State programs. His notes specify countries that may be at risk of a typhoon or where economic unrest could lead to political violence.

“The goal is to know as much about where Kennesaw State education abroad programs are going long before the participants’ feet touch the ground,” he said.

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— Patrick Harbin and Sabbaye McGriff


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu