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Robert Gates

Walter and Leonore Annenberg Award Winner



Robert M. Gates served under President Barak Obama as the nation’s 22nd Secretary of Defense. Originally appointed by President George W. Bush, Gates is the fourteenth Cabinet member in history to serve under two presidents of different political parties.

Gates joined the CIA in 1966, and was commissioned into the Air Force as a second lieutenant shortly thereafter, serving in the Strategic Air Command from 1967 to 1969. During his 26 years with the CIA, Gates was awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and three times received the CIA’s highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

Gates was born on September 25, 1943, in Wichita, Kansas, where he charted his course of public service early-on as a distinguished Eagle Scout. After graduating from high school in Wichita, Gates was awarded a scholarship to William and Mary College, graduating with a B.A. in history in 1965. Gates earned a Master’s degree in history from Indiana University in 1966, and while working at the CIA, a Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University in 1974.

Next year, Gates will return to his alma mater as the next Chancellor of the College of William & Mary. He will succeed retired U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who will complete her term in February, 2012. This award honored his sustained achievement in diplomacy at the highest levels of the United States Government during a lifetime of service. His constant and effective public calls for and recognition of the need for a properly staffed diplomacy to protect America’s national interests has provided a beacon of inspiration for the men and women who serve to advance our diplomacy at home and abroad.

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