__Defense Secretary, ‘65, will speak at commencement__
The College announced this morning that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, ’65, will deliver the keynote address at the College’s May 20 commencement. Gates earned a B.A. in History from the College before receiving an M.A. in history from Indiana University and a PhD. in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University. He joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966, where he worked for 27 years as an intelligence official, working under six presidents.
p. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed Gates the director of the CIA, where he served for two years.
Gates left the government for academia in 1993, eventually becoming president of Texas A&M University, where he remained until receiving his cabinet post last December. That post – unanimously approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee – came after the resignation of then-secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
According to Professor of Government Alan Ward, Gates’ appointment represented an ideological departure from George W. Bush’s original administration, particularly from Rumsfeld. He said that Gates’s politics and character were more analytical and reserved than the “neocons” that surrounded Bush since 2000.
Since his appointment, Gates has been instrumental in reforming and shaping American foreign policy, particularly in Iraq and Iran.
In a statement released this morning, College President Gene Nichol commended Gates’ achievements.
p. “Bob Gates’ service to his country – and his alma mater – reflects the compelling tradition of public engagement that distinguishes William and Mary, long the wellspring of American leadership,” Nichol said. “Already he’s reminded us, in his short weeks at the Pentagon, why so many think so much of his service.”
p. Gates was an active member in Alpha Phi Omega and the Young Republicans while at the College. He also worked as an Orientation aid and was the Business Manager of the William and Mary Review, the College’s literary magazine.
p. His participation in commencement exercises will be his first visit to the College since receiving his cabinet post.
The College also announced that civil rights advocate William T. Coleman Jr. and alumnus William M. Kelso, M.A. ’64, will receive honorary degrees at the graduation ceremony. Coleman is also the former secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Kelso is the director of Archaeology for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities and the Jamestown Rediscovery Project.