Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense (2006–11)

March 27, 2018

Pierce Lecture;
Wednesday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m.


TACOMA, Wash. – Robert Gates, U.S. secretary of defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will speak at University of Puget Sound.

The highly decorated statesman, scholar, and best-selling author will appear in Tacoma for a discussion titled “A Conversation With Dr. Robert Gates” on Wednesday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m., in Schneebeck Concert Hall on campus. Benjamin Tromly, Puget Sound associate professor of history, will serve as moderator for the one-hour talk. A map of campus and ticket information for the Pierce Lecture are below.

Gates’ professional experience in intelligence and leadership roles spans the period from the time of the Cold War to today’s war on terrorism. He served as the 22nd secretary of defense, from 2006 to 2011, and is the only person serving in that role to be asked to remain in office by a newly elected president. On Gates’ last day in office, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.

The former U.S. Air Force second lieutenant, who rose through the ranks to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency (1991–93), has shared his views and his memories on leadership, war, and the way America’s government works—and too often doesn’t work—in three books. The most recent, A Passion for Leadership (2016), is an urgent assessment of why big civic and private institutions are failing us, and how smart, committed leadership can inspire others and bring badly needed change.

 An earlier book, The New York Times best-seller Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War (2014), covered his experience serving two presidents during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In lectures subsequent to the book, Gates has expressed the view that America will continue to face the most challenging international environment since the Cold War for some time to come.

Considered the “Soldier’s Secretary” for his commitment to the safety and preparedness of men and women in uniform, Gates made significant advances in his time as secretary of defense. Soldier safety was improved, in part, by replacing vehicles in the field with heavily armored vehicles. He was instrumental in the reshaping of U.S. nuclear weapons policies, the removal of troops from Iraq, and the resurgence of troops in Afghanistan—culminating in the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966. He spent nearly nine of his 27 years as an intelligence professional with the White House’s National Security Council, working under four presidents from both major political parties. Gates also has served as an academic, lecturer, and as president of Texas A&M University (2002–06).

Recognitions of Gates’ dedication to his country include the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal (three times), among other honors.

He is currently a partner in the consulting firm RHG LLC, alongside former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others. Past roles include positions on the board of the American Council on Education and as president of the Boy Scouts of America. His alma maters are College of William & Mary (B.A.), Indiana University (M.A.), and Georgetown University (Ph.D.).

The lecture is sponsored by the Susan Resneck Pierce Lectures in Public Affairs and the Arts. The Pierce Lecture series brings intellectuals, public figures, writers, and artists to the university to present challenging ideas that stimulate further exploration and discussion on campus.

Past Pierce lecturers have included Nobel Prize laureate Wole Soyinka; economist Robert Reich; filmmaker Spike Lee; the Hon. Cory Booker, now a U.S. senator; The New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast; political commentator David Brooks; playwright Edward Albee; race and religion scholar Cornel West; musician Philip Glass; and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, among many others.

FOR TICKETS: Tickets are available online at tickets.pugetsound.edu, or at Wheelock Information Center, 253.879.3100. Admission is $20 for the general public. Entrance is free for Puget Sound faculty, staff, and students with campus ID, but tickets are required. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.

For directions and a map of the University of Puget Sound campus: pugetsound.edu/directions
For accessibility information please contact accessibility@pugetsound.edu or 253.879.3931, or visit pugetsound.edu/accessibility.

Press photos of Robert Gates can be downloaded from pugetsound.edu/pressphotos.

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