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Dale Pupillo

BA 1976, Political Science

Deputy Assistant Director, U.S. Secret Service, Office of Professional Responsibility, Washington, DC

Movies like White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen are filled with agents in dark glasses, doing their best to protect the cinematic version of our nation’s leaders in the midst of some dire, action-filled national crisis. Dale Pupillo, Deputy Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret Service, and formerly the Special Agent in Charge of the Vice-Presidential Protective Division for Vice Presidents Cheney and Biden, is the real thing.

Thankfully, one of the biggest moments in Pupillo’s career was dramatic in an entirely different way. “On January 20, 2009, I was seated just behind Vice President Biden on the inaugural platform at the Capitol, observing the swearing in of President Obama and Vice President Biden,” he recalls. “I had grown up in Gary and Merrillville, Indiana, studied political science at Purdue, served in the Navy, and was now witnessing something up close that I had studied and worked to protect my entire adult life: the peaceful transfer of power in the government. I was in the ‘wow’ moment and I knew it."

Purdue Influences

One of my most significant experiences was the time I spent as a member of Navy ROTC. Purdue was a great place to have the ROTC experience and learn about leadership; everyone was respectful and supportive of the program. My studies in the School of Humanities, Social Science, and Education, now the College of Liberal Arts, stood as a perfect complement to my ROTC experience. I learned communications skills and studied history and politics. My success has come from the lessons I learned in both liberal arts and military training. Without my liberal arts education, my leadership skills would be incomplete and I would never be able to have the career I do now.

Purdue Memories

I lived in Cary Quad and my room overlooked Ross-Ade Stadium. I will never forget the excitement and the sounds as we awoke on a football Saturday and opened the window to see the crowds on the sidewalk and street below. The other thing I remember is how beautiful the campus is when the leaves change in late October. I think of that every year.

Purdue Now

Purdue has remained rock solid. It has physically changed, but its reputation and the way I think about it has not. Purdue is steady, strong, and welcoming.

Greatest Achievement

In high school I started a suicide hotline for teenagers that is still operating today. That experience changed my life and showed me what good I could achieve if I tried.

Living Person I Admire

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was elected to the position at an advanced age, fulfilled the duties assigned, and chose to resign for the good of the church despite the overwhelming historical precedent that no other pope had done so. I admire his courage.

Idea of Perfect Happiness

A cup of coffee with family in the morning, a long run through the countryside in the afternoon, and a glass of wine to close the day.

What I’m Reading

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Jobs changed our world and it’s fascinating to learn about him and how he did it.

Profession I’d Like to Try

I would like to try acting. I would enjoy the challenge to do it well and I love the energy of an audience.