Don Outing grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, with his four brothers and a sister. His parents divorced when he was 11. Public Housing was a step up for the Outing family. Don attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, lettering in four sports, and was the team captain for football, track, and wrestling. When it came time to choose a college, Don was recruited by both West Point and Annapolis. He selected Navy, and became a Midshipman in the summer of 1979. He played football, but struggled academically, and was eventually separated for an honor violation, resulting in a three-year commitment to the Navy as an enlisted Sailor. He tried to pursue a commission through OCS (Officer Candidate School), but failed, discovering that his file was blacklisted. He entered the civilian workforce, but discovered that he missed the military lifestyle, and entered Army OCS in 1988. Graduating from OCS, he became a Military Police Officer, branch-detailed to Field Artillery. He was selected to come to the Department of Mathematical Sciences at West Point, eventually earning his PhD in Math. After several years in the Math Department, Dr. Outing was picked to lead the Diversity Office at West Point, focusing on outreach initiatives for underrepresented populations in order to identify and attract qualified candidates for the Academy.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood in Baltimore, his mother’s influence, his love for sports, and his struggles at the Naval Academy. He describes his years in the Navy as a Sailor, his time in the civilian workforce, and his desire to return to the military. He discusses his early assignments in the Army, both as a Field Artilleryman and as an MP. He expresses his excitement at being selected for the Math Department and his joy at teaching there. Finally, he explores some of the struggles minorities face from the perspective of the admissions committee, and steps he has taken to attract, recruit, and retain minority Cadets at the Academy. He ends by explaining what West Point means to him.