UW Today

This is an archived article.

April 22, 2009

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates to be UW Commencement speaker

News and Information

Robert M. Gates, who has served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense since December 2006, will be the University of Washington’s Commencement speaker in ceremonies at Husky Stadium June 13.

Prior to his current position, Gates served as president of Texas A&M University since 2002. He was interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001.

Gates was born in 1943 in Wichita, Kansas. He received a scholarship to attend the College of William and Mary, from which he graduated in 1965 with a B.A. in history. He received a master’s degree in history from Indiana University in 1966 and a doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University in 1975.

While at Indiana, Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency and spent nearly 27 years in the intelligence community. He spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council, serving four presidents.

Gates was confirmed as Director of Central Intelligence in 1991, becoming the only career officer in the CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director. He served until 1993.

After retiring from the CIA, Gates lectured at several colleges and universities. In 1996 he published his autobiography, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War. He also has written numerous articles on foreign policy and government.

As president of Texas A&M from 2002 to 2006, he worked to enhance student diversity, increase the size of the faculty, build new academic facilities and enrich the educational experience of undergraduates and graduate students. The Texas A&M System Board of Regents conferred on him the title of president emeritus in 2007.

Gates has served on several corporate boards, including the board of trustees of Fidelity Investments and the board of directors of NACCO Industries, Brinker International, Parker Drilling Co. and Science Applications International Corp.

In January 2004, Gates co-chaired a Council on Foreign Relations task force on U.S. relations with Iran. He was also an original member of the Iraq Study Group, a ten-member bipartisan panel appointed in March 2006 by the U.S. Congress to assess the situation in Iraq and make policy recommendations.

President George W. Bush announced in November 2006 his intention to nominate Gates to succeed the resigning Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. In December 2008, President-elect Obama announced that Gates would remain as Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration. He became the 14th Cabinet member in history to serve under two Presidents of different parties.

Gates has received the Presidential Citizens Medal and the National Security Medal. He has twice been awarded the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has received the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the CIA’s highest award, three times. He recently was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, one of the most prestigious honorary societies in the country.

The university’s 134th Commencement ceremonies begin at 2 p.m. About 4,100 graduates are expected to attend, with an audience of about 39,000 family members and guests. Degrees are awarded to those who have completed academic requirements some time during the 2008-2009 academic year. Members of the Board of Regents, deans and other representatives of the University’s 17 colleges and schools will participate in the Seattle ceremony.

More information about UW Commencement ceremonies is available at http://uwgraduation.com/.