Former U.S. Secretary of Defense and William & Mary Chancellor Robert M. Gates ’65 will give remarks at William & Mary’s Charter Day ceremony at 4 p.m. on Feb. 8, 2013, in Kaplan Arena. Gates was invested as the College’s 24th chancellor at the 2012 Charter Day ceremony, becoming the first William & Mary alumnus in the modern era to serve in the honorary role.
The 2013 Charter Day ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will mark the 320th anniversary of the College receiving its royal charter from King William III and Queen Mary II of England. Lois Critchfield, a longtime friend of William & Mary and former CIA employee, will receive an honorary degree at the event.
“It is a delight to be able to celebrate the university’s birthday with some of its greatest friends,” said President Taylor Reveley. “There is no better person to reflect about William & Mary than our distinguished chancellor and alumnus, Secretary Gates. It is also wonderful that we can honor Lois Critchfield for her distinguished career and many contributions to our venerable institution.”
Robert M. Gates
Gates, the only person in American history to serve as secretary of defense for presidents from different political parties, retired in 2011 after leading the U.S. Department of Defense under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Prior to becoming defense secretary, Gates held numerous roles in the Executive Branch – serving eight presidents during his career.
Gates began a career in public service soon after graduating from William & Mary. In 1966, he joined the Central Intelligence Agency and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional, including nine years at the National Security Council. Gates is the only career officer in the CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to become the agency’s director – a post he held from 1991 to 1993. He served as deputy director of the CIA from 1986 until 1989 and as assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser at the White House from 1989 until 1991 for President George H. W. Bush.
After leaving the CIA, Gates, who holds a doctorate from Georgetown University, lectured at some of America’s leading universities before being named dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. In 2002, he became president of Texas A &M, a role he held until 2006 when he returned to Washington as the nation’s 22nd secretary of defense.
One of America’s most decorated citizens, Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal and the Presidential Citizens Medal. He also received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal three times and the CIA’s highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, three times. Upon his retirement as defense secretary, Obama awarded Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a president can bestow on a civilian.
A history major as an undergraduate at William & Mary, Gates has received a number of honors from his alma mater. At his graduation ceremony in 1965, he received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award which recognizes characteristics of heart, mind and helpfulness to others. In 1998, Gates spoke at Charter Day and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. The Alumni Association awarded Gates the Alumni Medallion, its highest honor, in 2000. He also returned to campus to deliver the commencement address in 2007.
Since moving to Williamsburg in 1996, Critchfield and her late husband, James, have been among William & Mary’s most stalwart friends, especially to the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies. She has been instrumental in expanding Middle Eastern Studies at the university.
During a 28-year career in the CIA, Critchfield worked for many years in the Middle East, where her husband once served as an economic development advisor to the Sultan of Oman. She later wrote a book about that experience, titled “Oman Emerges: An American Company in an Ancient Kingdom.” In 2011, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman presented William & Mary with a gift to establish the Sultan Qaboos bin Said Professorship in Middle East Studies. Critchfield was instrumental in the Sultan’s understanding and appreciation of William & Mary.
Critchfield has served as a member of the Reves Advisory Council and the Reves Center Steering Committee. In 2003, she created the James H. Critchfield Memorial Endowment for Middle East Studies, which is administered by the Reves Center. Since 2004, the endowment has supported a variety of activities on campus and in Washington, D.C. It has also supported 48 William & Mary students studying from Egypt eastward, including the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf. Every two years, William & Mary hosts the Critchfield Conference in Middle Eastern Studies, which has brought a number of renowned scholars to Williamsburg. This year’s conference will examine cultural, economic, and geopolitical ties among countries around the Indian Ocean.
In 2005, Critchfield received William & Mary’s Lord Botetourt Award, which is presented to non-alumni friends of the College who have contributed to its success. The next year, she was named an honorary alumna of the university.
Along with her work at William & Mary, Critchfield served on the board of governors of the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., from 2006 to 2012, and she currently serves on the board of the non-profit Hadetha Foundation, which focuses on the economic empowerment of women in Iraq.