The Eberly College of Arts & Sciences at West Virginia Universit has named Joan Bird the newest recipient of its Alumni Recognition Award.

Bird’s career with the Central Intelligence Agency spanned three decades and placed her in key positions during the Cold War. She will accept her award in Morgantown at the Eberly College Awards and Honors Recognition Ceremony and Luncheon on April 16.

After obtaining a foreign languages degree in French from WVU, Bird pursued her graduate education in English literature at George Washington University while working at the CIA. She went on to have an extensive career at the CIA after completing her studies and became an influential member of the decision-making and analysis community during the Cold War.

“I majored in French and had one year of Russian at WVU,” Bird said. “Both languages were valuable tools during my career, which is how I believe foreign language students should view their language(s) skills in approaching a career, aside from a career in teaching.”

Bird began her career as an analyst for the CIA and went on to hold many influential positions. She served as the advisor to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, the chief intelligence advisor to the U.S. ambassador and U.S. delegation to the Defense and Space Talks, and a member of the U.S. intelligence and policy committee to formulate issues for the Conference on Disarmament. She also wrote the National Intelligence Memorandum on Soviet Commercial Space Policy and the National Intelligence Estimate on Soviet Policy relative to the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative and developed intelligence support to the Naval War College annual global war games.

Drawing from her experiences with the CIA, Bird also co-authored the book “History of CIA Intelligence on the Warsaw Pact.” She currently works as an independent contractor for the agency, writing background essays for contextual purposes to accompany the release of historical documents.

Her trip to Morgantown this month will be only her second visit to the area since her graduation in 1959.

“I have many memories of WVU: football weekends; basketball games featuring either “Hot Rod” Hundley or Jerry West; Spring Spree weekend, the only time women could wear Bermuda shorts on campus—we didn’t wear slacks then at all,” said Bird.

“I also remember meeting friends at “Jimmy’s” between classes where Cokes were 5 cents in the bottle, 7 cents in a glass and a few more pennies for ice; hamburgers were 15 cents for one on a bun and 25 cents for two hamburgers on the same bun.”

For more information, contact Brenda Riggle, project coordinator for the Dean’s Office, at (304) 293-4611 ext: 5200 or



CONTACT: Rebecca Herod, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
304-293-7405, ext. 5251,

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.