John Kroger continues to reinvent himself.
The U.S. Navy has announced that Kroger, best known as Oregon's attorney general from 2009 to 2012 and then president of Reed College from 2012 to 2018, was named in September to be the first-ever chief learning officer of the United States Navy.
"I am convinced now more than ever, that the intellectual development of our naval personnel is the most critical warfighting capability for our national security," said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer in a statement announcing Kroger's hiring. "Failure to adapt to all aspects of how we prepare our naval leaders for the future creates an unacceptable risk for American citizens, who have long relied on the Navy and Marine Corps to be at the intellectual forefront of national security concerns."
As chief learning officer, the publication U.S. Naval Institution News reports, Kroger will have a big job: "to align the department's academic institutions. Included are the United States Naval Academy, the Naval War College, Naval Postgraduate School, Marine Corps University and the soon-to-be established Naval Community College."
The new gig is just the latest incarnation for a man who not long ago was the brightest star in Oregon politics.
After growing up in Houston, Kroger began adult life by enlisting in the Marines, serving from 1983 to 1986. He then earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at Yale and after a brief stint working for now-Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the Clinton Administration, went to Harvard Law School. He then worked as a federal prosecutor in New York for five years, from 1997 to 2002, but after pedaling his bicycle across the country to Portland, he quit to teach at Lewis & Clark Law School.
In 2008, Kroger, a first-time candidate, beat veteran state Rep. Greg Macpherson (D-Lake Oswego) in the Democratic primary for attorney general and easily won the general election. Kroger promised to activate the sleepy Department of Justice but his aggressive and sometimes self-promotional approach ruffled feathers among the state's staid legal community and insular political world.
A 2010 DOJ investigation of a contract obtained under questionable circumstances by Cylvia Hayes, then the girlfriend of former Gov. John Kitzhaber, who was in the middle of a political comeback, got Kroger crosswise with power figures including the late Dave Frohnmayer, who'd served as attorney general and as president of the University of Oregon.
In 2012, before the end of his first term, Kroger resigned to become president of Reed College, bringing an abrupt end to the political career than not long before seemed destined to take him to the governor's office or Congress.
Now, after six years atop Reed, he's embarked on another career.