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Robert Gates to speak at 2011 commencement

Observer Staff Report | Wednesday, January 26, 2011

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates will be the 2011 Commencement speaker, according to a University press release.

Gates will speak and receive an honorary degree at the University’s 166th Commencement on May 22 at Notre Dame Stadium.

“The contributions Dr. Gates has made in service to our nation and to higher education are many and significant,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in the press release. “I am so pleased that he has accepted our invitation and look forward to welcoming him to our campus. I am sure his perspectives on our nation and world will be of considerable interest to Notre Dame’s graduating Class of 2011.”

Nominated by President George W. Bush, Gates became the 22nd secretary of defense in 2006. Under President Barack Obama, he became the only defense secretary asked to remain in his role under a newly-elected president.

After joining the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1966, he served as an intelligence professional for 27 years, including nine years at the National Security Council.

He served as director of the CIA from 1991 to 1993, which made him the only career officer in CIA history to rise to director after beginning at an entry-level position. Gates was also deputy director of the CIA from 1986 to 1989 and was assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser at the White House from 1989 to 1991.

Gates also has experience in higher education. He was president of Texas A&M University for four years before becoming secretary of defense. From 1991 to 2001 he was interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001.

Gates earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, his master’s degree from Indiana University and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University.