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Robert M. Gates ’65, L.H.D. ’98

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense

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While many of us know him best as William & Mary’s 24th Chancellor, Bob Gates is recognized world-wide as a public servant of extraordinary experience and effectiveness.

Chancellor Gates found his passion for service as a student at William & Mary. While majoring in history, he was an active member of the service organization Alpha Phi Omega, as well as a dormitory manager and the business manager of the William & Mary Review. He says that William & Mary instilled in him "a calling to serve — a sense of duty to community and country that this college has sought to instill in each generation of students for more than 300 years." After graduating, he went on to earn a master's in history at Indiana University and a doctorate in Russian and Soviet history at Georgetown University.

His career in public service started when he joined the CIA where he worked for six presidents during nearly 27 years as an intelligence officer. As U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chancellor Gates became the only person in American history to serve under presidents from different political parties. Upon his retirement, President Obama awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor. His book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, has been described as "one of the best Washington memoirs ever" by the New York Times. He is also the author of From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War and A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service.

Learn more about Chancellor Gates