New Bryan Series: Robert Gates

Director of the CIA? Check. Secretary of defense? Check. Served the country under eight different presidents? Check.

With a resume rivaled by few, Robert Gates is kicking off the Bryan Series this year with a bang.

On Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in Greensboro’s War Memorial Auditorium, community members will gather to hear Gates speak.

Having served as the director of the CIA, president of Texas A&M University and secretary of defense, he is sure to entertain.

Ty Buckner, associate vice president of communications and marketing, is heavily involved in organizing the Bryan Series.

“We always try to present one of our best speakers in the opening event, which is always highly anticipated,” said Buckner. “I expect it to get us off to a great start for a season of five programs that we are really looking forward to.”

George Guo, professor of political science, commented on Gates’ unique careers and experiences.

“Gates is the only one in American history who has served as secretary of defense for presidents from different political parties,” said Guo. “Of course he has significantly impacted the U.S. militarily.”

Gates joined the CIA in 1966 and served as director from 1991 to 1993, becoming the only career officer to rise from an entry-level employee to a director.

In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Gates as secretary of defense — a position he maintained during Barack Obama’s first presidency term, when he helped overturn the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

On July 2, 2011, Gates officially retired as secretary of defense and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — America’s highest civilian honor.

Robert Duncan, visiting assistant professor of political science, was a colleague of Gates’ when both were new recruits to the CIA career program.

“We were together in a class of maybe 20-30 people, learning the business of what the agency did,” said Duncan. “At the time (Gates became CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence), I was working in the office of training and education at The Farm, and for the classes I was teaching there, occasionally, I would ask Bob Gates to come down and talk to the students in the class.”

Although Gates is now the chancellor of the College of William & Mary, Duncan joked about what Gates could do with his free time nowadays.

“He recently retired … I don’t know what he’s going to do now, but we are looking for a president. Why not hire Bob Gates?” said Duncan.

On Sunday Oct. 27, at 3:30 p.m. on the second floor of Hege Library, Duncan will lead a seminar on Gates’ career.

Taylor Bradsher, an Early College junior, plans to attend Gates’ talk at the War Memorial Auditorium.

“I want to hear Robert Gates speak because of his role as secretary of defense and his work with the CIA,” said Bradsher. “I find it really interesting that he worked his way up from an entry-level position to one of great influence. I am really excited to hear him speak.”