Former FBI investigative specialist Eric O’Neill, an Auburn University alumnus who was instrumental in the capture of one of the most notorious Russian spies in the U.S. since the end of the Cold War, will deliver the Graduate School’s New Horizons Lecture on Friday, March 28, at 3 p.m. in Auburn University’s Foy Hall ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.
O’Neill’s lecture, “The World is Not Enough: Lessons in Courage, Confidence and Determination From a Spy Hunter,” relates to his role in helping the FBI obtain evidence against Robert Hanssen, a 25-year FBI veteran who was arrested and convicted on espionage charges in 2001 for divulging national secrets to Russia and the former Soviet Union. O’Neill’s exploits were brought to the big screen in 2007 as part of the movie “Breach,” starring Ryan Phillippe as O’Neill.
“Eric O’Neill is an excellent example of an Auburn graduate who has gone on to do great things in the world,” said George Flowers, dean of the Graduate School. “We look forward to his lecture and hope it helps to inspire greatness in the next generation of Auburn men and women.”
While at the FBI, O’Neill was planted in the Information Assurance Section working directly under Hanssen, whom FBI officials suspected of spying for Russia. O’Neill was able to draw Hanssen out of deep cover and steal files off his Palm Pilot, which ultimately lead to Hanssen’s arrest and conviction.
After leaving the FBI in 2001, O’Neill went on to earn a law degree at the George Washington University Law School, adding to the bachelor’s degrees he earned in psychology and political science at Auburn. He is the founding partner of The Georgetown Group, a Washington-based investigative and security services firm.
As part of the New Horizons Lecture, the Graduate School will also hold a public film screening of “Breach” on Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in the Foy Hall Ballroom.
Now in its sixth year, the New Horizons Lecture is sponsored annually by the Auburn University Graduate School. The lecture series aims to promote the exchange of ideas among students, faculty and the greater Auburn community through interaction with engaging speakers whose ideas and deeds have inspired or influenced others.