Ambassador Dinger receives honorary degree

The University of Northern Iowa presented Ambassador John R. Dinger, '74, with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the spring commencement ceremony in May, 2022.

John Dinger with family“The honor recognizes Ambassador Dinger’s commitment to public service and lifelong ambition to help improve the lives of individuals around the world,” said President Mark A. Nook. “This commitment is grounded in his Iowa upbringing and his experience at UNI. We are proud to recognize his extraordinary career with this honorary degree.”

After growing up in the small town of Riceville, Iowa, Ambassador Dinger graduated from UNI in 1974 with a degree in political science and a minor in French. Upon encouragement from his professor and head of the Department of Political Science, Robert Ross, Ambassador Dinger applied and was accepted into the foreign service, launching a career that would take him around the world representing U.S. interests.

Ambassador Dinger began his Foreign Service career with tours to London and Rio de Janeiro. During his career, he served three tours in Japan, which culminated in his serving as consul general in Tokyo from 1998 to 2000. He also served as a labor attaché in Johannesburg, South Africa, working with Black labor unions during the fall of Apartheid, and as director of the Office of Press Relations in the Bureau of Public Affairs in Washington where he advocated U.S. foreign policy positions to U.S. and foreign media.

In 2000, Ambassador Dinger was appointed ambassador to Mongolia, where he helped open markets to major American companies, including Boeing and Coca-Cola, and negotiated with the Mongolian government over American foreign policy priorities. In a country that had only 300 miles of paved road, he traveled over 10,000 miles, visiting each of the 21 provincial capitals twice.

Ambassador Dinger spent the rest of his career in key intelligence and political offices in Washington.

He served as deputy coordinator from 2003 to 2005, where he helped develop U.S. counterterrorism policy. From 2006 to 2012, Ambassador Dinger was the principal deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and research. Among other accomplishments in this role, he helped establish the department’s first Office of Cyber Affairs and was integral in forming principles to guide the diplomacy of cyberspace.

“John Dinger’s career highlights the strengths of UNI and our department,” said Scott Peters, current head of UNI's Department of Political Science. “His mentor, Robert Ross, helped him find his passion, which led him to a career of service to his country.”

Ambassador Dinger now helps return the favor, frequently visiting the UNI campus to share his career experiences with students and encourage them to pursue foreign service careers.