Memo to Ripon College students, faculty, staff and friends: Don’t worry about the new guy on Merriman Lane.

   The CIA has checked him out. 

   Zach Messitte’s dossier is in order. 

   So says his good friend and former top spy George Tenet, who served as CIA director under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush from 1997 to 2004. 

   Tenet visited Ripon Saturday to speak at Messitte’s inauguration on the lawn of Harwood Memorial Union.

   Now a managing director at the merchant bank Allen & Company in New York City, Tenet spoke with the Commonwealth 45 minutes before delivering his speech about Ripon College’s 13th president.

   “Zach talked to me about coming to Ripon [before he was named in March,]” Tenet said. “I thought it was a great opportunity and strongly urged him to do it. I thought he would make a profound difference in a small, liberal arts college. 

   “I thought his youth and energy would connect with the kids immediately and I thought he would bring a certain energy that would be decisive. And I also believe that education is his life and what a great opportunity to come to a great place at a young age, relatively, and see if he can put all his ideas into practice to grow the institution. So I thought he was terrific.” 

   Messitte, 44, likely was encouraged by the advice from his mentor, a man most address as “Director Tenet” but who Ripon’s president fondly calls “Meat.”  

   The two men have been friends since 1990, when they first met  after former U.S. Sen. David Boren, D-Okla., hired Messitte to be press spokesman for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

   Tenet was staff director of the committee, overseeing 40 to 50 personnel. 

Read the full story in the Oct. 4, 2012 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.