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W&M’s Wren Building serves as backdrop for Chancellor's interview on CBS

  • Face the Chancellor
    Face the Chancellor
    W&M Chancellor Robert M. Gates '65 (left) is interviewed by longtime CBS News broadcast journalist Bob Schieffer. The interview aired May 12 on "Face The Nation," CBS News' Sunday public affairs broadcast
    Photo by Robert Boag
  • Walk and talk
    Walk and talk
    Gates and Schieffer walk outside of the Wren Building on Saturday, one day before the Class of 2013 gathered there to begin their final walk across campus as undergraduates.
    Photo by Robert Boag

William & Mary Chancellor and former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates ’65 appeared this weekend on “Face The Nation,” CBS News’ Sunday public affairs broadcast.

Longtime CBS News broadcast journalist Bob Schieffer, anchor and moderator of the popular weekly show, came to campus this weekend to interview Gates in William & Mary’s historic Sir Christopher Wren Building. The interview took place in the Wren’s Grammar School Room.

Schieffer opened the segment by introducing his location at "historic William & Mary" with video footage of the two men walking outside of the Wren Building under a banner for the W&M Class of 2013. Gates received his history degree from W&M in 1965 and was installed last year as the university’s 24th chancellor. Schieffer is the network’s chief Washington correspondent and began anchoring “Face The Nation” in 1991.

During the CBS News segment, Gates and Schieffer discussed everything from the continued controversy surrounding last year’s attacks on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi to the U.S. response to the ongoing civil war  in Syria to how historians will view the Iraq War. Gates also discussed what he considered the greatest threat to American security.

"I think that the greatest threat to us right now is the inability of our political leaders to come together on bipartisan solutions, long-term solutions to the very real problems we have," he said.

"Unless we can come together on policies to deal with these problems that can survive one Congress and one presidency, then I think we're in real trouble," Gates added. "And this striving for momentary political advantage or to score ideological points on either side of the spectrum, I think is doing serious damage to the country."

Gates retired in June 2011 after serving since 2006 as head of the U.S. Department of Defense. He is the only defense secretary in the nation’s history to serve two presidents from different political parties – serving under former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Prior to becoming defense secretary, he served in numerous capacities in the executive branch and worked for eight presidents. He is also the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. From 2002 to 2006, Gates was president of Texas A&M University.

Gates was invested in 2012 as chancellor, an honorary position with a long tradition at William & Mary. He succeeded U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. He was on campus to participate in 2013 Commencement weekend activities. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller delivered the keynote address and Gates provided welcoming remarks at Sunday’s main ceremony in William & Mary Hall.