Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, former U.S. Secretaries of Defense and directors of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), will visit SMU Tuesday, Sept. 17 to kick off the 2013-14 season of the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series.
Panetta and Gates will offer their insights and opinions on current events as moderated by political analyst and Tate Series veteran David Gergen. Gates, Panetta and Gergen will open the season with The Linda and Mitch Hart Lecture at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.
Robert M. Gates was recruited to the CIA from the military in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years there. He served as CIA Director from 1991-93, becoming the only career officer in the agency’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director. He was awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal three times, the CIA’s highest award. After the CIA Gates was president of Texas A&M University, a post he left to become the 22nd U.S. Secretary of Defense from 2006-11. He is the only Secretary of Defense in U.S. history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected president. At the end of his service, President Barack Obama awarded Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.
Gates also wrote a memoir, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War. He received a bachelor’s degree from College of William and Mary, a master’s in history from Indiana University and a doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University. Currently, he serves on the board of directors of Starbucks and as a partner at RHG LLP.
Leon Panetta has been involved in public service for most of his life. As an Army intelligence officer, he received an Army Commendation Medal, served in the U.S. House of Representatives, and served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. He continues this commitment as co-director of the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy at California State University-Monterey Bay, a nonprofit that seeks to instill the values of public service in young men and women.
As director of the CIA from 2009-11, Panetta oversaw the operation that resulted in bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. Following the CIA, Panetta succeeded Gates as the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Defense, serving from 2011-2013. During this time he oversaw the final removal of American troops from Iraq and the beginning of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan. He received his bachelor’s and law degrees from Santa Clara University.
David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he is also a professor of public service. Gergen joined the Nixon White House in 1971 as a staff as assistant to a speech writing team and went on to presidential adviser for four former presidents. In addition to his political work he was an officer in the U.S. Navy, worked at U.S. News & World Report and appeared on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Gergen graduated with honors from both Yale College and Harvard Law School.
All SMU community members are invited to the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. Doors open at 4 p.m., and seats may be reserved online. Please tweet your questions for the forum to #SMUtate.
The evening lecture is sold out. However, students can go to the basement of McFarlin Auditorium at 7 p.m. with their SMU IDs for possible seating on a first-come, first-served basis.
Learn more about this season’s Tate lecturers and the Tate Student Forum series for the community at smu.edu/tateseries. Don’t forget to follow along with everything Tate on Twitter: @SMUtate and Instagram: @smutate.
All images via SMU Tate