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About UP: Rising Stars
Randy Howell '05
All in a day’s work for Randy Howell.
Howell, a 2005 alumnus of the University, currently works in the Office of Global Threat Reduction for the U.S. Department of Energy and is the program manager for China and South Asian Threat Reduction. He helps implement the U.S. government’s efforts to ensure the security of nuclear and radiological materials in that region, working with foreign governments (including China, India, and Pakistan) to convert nuclear reactors from using highly-enriched uranium to low-enriched, remove radioactive materials and placing them in secure locations, and implement sophisticated security measures to protect research reactors and institutions that have radioactive material.
And his passion for world travel and work with foreign countries all began when he spent a year studying abroad with the University’s renowned Salzburg program.
An Austrian experience
Howell was introverted and shy in high school, and it was only until he had the opportunity to live and study abroad that he broke out of his shell. Experiencing the wonders of Europe with 40 other students from The Bluff and learning the self-reliance that comes with international travel
“My time in Salzburg inspired a love of travel, and I knew I wanted to find a job that went overseas,” Howell said. “Experiencing a variety of countries and cultures so early in college helped equip me for my career, and I have enjoyed so many global travels since. Salzburg kicked that off for me.”
Howell returned to the University and pursued a degree in political science with a minor in German. He had many memorable courses with political science professors Gary Malecha and Rev. Claude Pomerleau, C.S.C., but he especially enjoyed the classes of Loretta Frederking, who Howell fondly described as “tough, challenging, and having very high expectations.” Professors like Frederking helped Howell learn how to be a student, and to analyze and synthesize complex global issues.
After graduating in 2005, Howell, with the guidance of German professor Laura McLary, was awarded a prestigious Austrian English Teaching Assistantship. Howell spent a year teaching English to 13-17 year old students at a school outside of Graz.
He then went on to graduate school at the University of Denver, where he earned a master’s degree in international studies with a focus on environmental policy. Though he enjoyed his experience, his time at a different school made him appreciate his time on The Bluff.
“The teachers at UP really care about the students,” Howell said. “Having an academic experience at a different school really showed me the value of UP.”
339 flights. 1,600 hours. 740,000 miles.
As part of his master’s program, Howell spent a summer in Vienna as an intern with the International Atomic Energy Association, working with the U.S. Embassy. After his time there, he was recommended for a fellowship with the Department of Energy (DOE) to work in the field of non-proliferation. He is currently based out of Washington, D.C., working as a Foreign Affairs Specialist.
Travel is a major component of Howell’s work, and by his calculations he has travelled 740,000 miles on 339 flights for a total of 1,600 hours in the air. He has been around the world 30 times, and has travelled enough miles to go to the moon and back, and then back to the moon. He has been to China ten times, and has been to 42 different countries.
Howell’s responsibilities include working with foreign governments to upgrade nuclear facilities, navigating local and international regulations, conducting training sessions, inspecting sites, and testing security measures. Howell was recently involved in a project in Kazakhstan that ultimately transferred more than 100 tons of highly radioactive materials, including enough plutonium and highly enriched uranium to make some 775 nuclear weapons. National Public Radio (NPR) followed the team of workers from the DOE and featured the story nationally on the program “All Things Considered.” In the fall of 2011, the Secretary of Energy recognized the team with the Secretary’s Achievement Award for its work on the project.
Sign of approval
Despite national recognition, world travels, and the incredible job description of helping make the world safer, Howell hasn’t forgotten his Pilot roots. One of his favorite pastimes is signing as many official government documents as he can with his purple UP alumni Sharpie. Given to him by Ken Hallenius of the Office of Alumni Relations, Howell’s purple Sharpie has been very active.
“I started using my purple UP pen to sign letters to introduce myself to other government officials, and it went from there,” said Howell. “Now I sign proposals and official DOE letters with it, and a few times I’ve signed actual agreements between the U.S. and a foreign government with my UP Sharpie.”
A perfect example of how UP alumni can show their Purple Pride worldwide.
To support study abroad opportunities at University of Portland for students like Randy, consider making a gift to the Rise Campaign . Online gifts are always welcome, or contact the Office of Development, 503.943.7595 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.