Mark Mansfield, former CIA chief spokesman, UM professor, dies at 56

On any weekday in the fall of 2013, Professor Mark Mansfield could be seen shuffling from his office at the University of Miami’s School of Business to Dooley Memorial Building to teach a course on the most secretive organization in the country.

The former chief spokesman for the CIA-turned-lecturer taught “CIA and the World of Intelligence” from 2009 to 2013 at UM. According to students, Mansfield was a passionate teacher despite his worsening health conditions.

“He would come into class and take his brief case out, and you could tell he was just so happy to be there,” Eric Keen, a junior majoring in biology, said. “For me, that really summed up the sacrifices he was making.”

On Jan. 21 in a hospital in Miami, Mansfield, 56, died from complications due to kidney disease, according to Washington Post.

After earning a bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University in his home state of New Jersey, Mansfield went on to receive a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. That same year, Mansfield began working for the CIA and climbed the ranks for 27 years at the agency, ultimately becoming the chief spokesman.

He was given the Distinguished Intelligence Medal (the CIA’s highest award ) in 2005 and the Director’s Award by former CIA Directors Mike Hayden and George Tenet.

His experiences at the CIA gave students a rare inside look at the agency’s failures and successes. During his time at UM, Mansfield spent many of his classes discussing the Edward Snowden information leaks with students, according to Keen.

“Anyone who took his class walked away impressed,” Keen said.

Beyond animated debates in class, Mansfield encouraged students to explore every opportunity they were afforded.

Byron Hazzard, a junior studying political science and economics, said Mansfield’s encouragement shaped his career path when Hazzard was offered an internship with the U.S. Department of State in Guangzhou, China.

“When I told him the news, he immediately encouraged me to take the job,” Hazzard said. “[He] emphasized that I would be working long but rewarding hours, and told me that I would regret not having the experience.”

In the four years Mansfield taught at the university, students said he made a large impact with his candor and positive attitude.

“I would argue that in whatever small way – he was one guy teaching for four years – he added to the reputation of UM,” Keen said.