Gates to speak at NAFSA 2012 annual conference and expo

On Tuesday, May 29, 2012, William & Mary Chancellor Robert M. Gates ’65 will address the opening plenary session of the 2012 NAFSA: Association of International Educators Annual Conference and Expo in Houston, Texas.

Gates is currently the College’s 24th chancellor, and the first William & Mary alumnus in the modern era to take on the honorary position. He served as Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011 under former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, and is the only defense secretary in the nation’s history to serve two presidents from different political parties.

Prior to becoming defense secretary, Gates served in numerous capacities in the Executive Branch and worked for eight presidents. He is also the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Upon his retirement from the Pentagon in June, 2011, President Obama awarded Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.

Chancellor Gates has been a long-time advocate of international education and global exchange, most notably while he served as the president of Texas A&M University from 2002 - 2006. Gates pushed for international diversity of campus, as well as international student-friendly visa policies. He has also served on the board of directors of the American Council on Education and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

“For decades Robert Gates has been one of this country's greatest public servants, serving presidents of both parties with honor and distinction,” said Stephen E. Hanson, vice provost for international affairs and director of the Reves Center for International Studies.

“He has also been a steadfast and vocal supporter of international education in all its forms, ranging from the study of foreign languages and cultures to practical hands-on training in contemporary global affairs. The entire William & Mary community is thrilled that Robert Gates, Class of 1965, has returned to his alma mater as our new Chancellor.”

The NAFSA annual conference is the world’s largest event bringing together professional involved in international education, attended by more than 8,000 educators from more than 120 countries.

The conference focuses on topics pertinent to the field, including study abroad, international student and scholar advising, global education trends and systems, and international education policy. The 2012 conference theme is “Comprehensive Internationalization: Vision and Practice.”