- State College Area School District
- Distinguished Alumni
2013 James W. Houck
James W. Houck was voted “Most likely to succeed” by his State High classmates, one of whom was his future wife, Susan Antle. Upon leaving State High, Jim entered the U. S. Naval Academy class of 1980 and ended his naval career 32 years later as a vice (three-star) admiral and Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Navy. As Navy JAG, he was the principal military legal counsel to the Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations and led the 2300-plus military personnel and civilian employees of the worldwide Navy JAG Corps community.
After serving as Surface Warfare Officer on the destroyer USS Caron deployed to the Mediterranean and Central America, Jim entered the Navy's Law Education Program and graduated from University of Michigan Law School with his Juris Doctorate in 1985. In 1993, he obtained a Master of Laws degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
He began his legal career prosecuting and defending naval personnel in courts-martial. Later noteworthy assignments included service as Deputy Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; legal counsel to the Commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet; legal counsel to the Commander of the U.S. Fifth Fleet headquartered in the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain; and congressional liaison attorney in the Navy’s Office of Legislative Affairs. Immediately prior to becoming JAG, he served as Commander of the Naval Legal Service Command, overseeing 17 prosecution and defense commands around the world.
His personal decorations include Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (five awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy Commendation Medal (two awards) and Navy Achievement Medal.
After retiring from the Navy in 2012, Jim returned to State College and, as Distinguished Scholar in Residence, joined Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law and School of International Affairs. He also served as interim dean of both schools.