Marshall Center dedicates building to counterterrorism course founder
By Christine June
GCMC Public Affairs
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Nov. 18, 2015) – The “house” that retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Nichols “Nick” Pratt built was officially dedicated in his honor during a ceremony held Nov. 17 at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.
“As many of you know, after 9/11 (Sept.11, 2001 attacks on the United States) Nick Pratt conceived of, created and implemented the Marshall Center's Program on Terrorism and Security Studies,” said retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, director of the Marshall Center, speaking to a packed house of about 200 people, half of whom studied under Pratt. “What Nick Pratt created and ran is the ‘gold standard’ in the field of counterterrorism education, and he did it in this building that we are dedicating to him today.”
While still course director of PTSS, Pratt died in December 2013. His wife of 34 years, Marianna Pratt, and one of his four daughters, Sarah Pratt Fink and her husband and son, attended the dedication.
“I thought Nick would eventually be forgotten and all his hard work and efforts, and now, it just thrills me that he will be honored as long as the Marshall Center is here,” said Mrs. Pratt during her remarks. “Nick was 100 percent devoted to PTSS and educating his students, and he spent hours with the syllabus making sure it was going to be the best for each class, and handpicked all the adjunct faculty to make sure they were going to be the best seminar leaders and lectures – He lived and breathed the PTSS. It was his life.”
Dayton also said in his remarks that PTSS became Pratt’s life work, and this resident program, which now boasts almost 1,500 alumni from more than 120 countries, gained the respect of counterterrorism officials around the world. The first PTSS course was in 2004.
“The PTSS program quickly became widely known and had strong backing in OSD (Office of Secretary of Defense),” said Ben Reed, the U.S. deputy director for the Marshall Center, who organized the dedication ceremony. “His work with course development and participants were certainly beneficial to the reputation of the Marshall Center.”
One of those participants, Dina Al Raffie Huhn, spoke about her friend, mentor and colleague.
“He fought. He showed up to work unless he absolutely couldn’t,” said Huhn, who is also a cancer survivor, in her remarks. “When I came back in 2013 for my first gig as adjunct professor for PTSS – something he made possible – he was still being treated, but made an appearance on a regular basis because PTSS mattered to him so dearly. It really was his baby. That degree of strength is something I’ve rarely come across in my life.”
The ceremony ended with the unveiling of the dedication citation and Pratt’s photo when he was a professor here that will be hung in the hall of building 106, and the plague that will be cemented on the outside of the building.
“From this day forward, building 106 will continue to be a place of learning and a place of personal and professional growth. Each student, professor and guest who walks through those doors will be inspired by the remarkable life, service and commitment to excellence of Nick Pratt,” said the Master of Ceremony, U.S. Army Col. Joseph King, closing the official dedication ceremony.