Submitted on Friday, 4/10/2015, at 8:54 AM

April 9, 2015


AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College will welcome former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to Johnson Chapel on Tuesday, April 28, at 8 p.m. for a discussion with history professor Frank Couvares, the E. Dwight Salmon Professor of History and American Studies at Amherst, about foreign affairs, Middle East conflicts, the workings of Washington and government leadership in our democracy. The event, titled “Our Era of War and American Democracy: A Conversation with Robert Gates,” will be free and open to the public. Following Gates’ talk, he will take questions from the audience and then hold a signing of his 2014 best-selling book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.

“We are delighted that Dr. Gates accepted our invitation to come to Amherst,” said College President Biddy Martin. “For most of our students’ lives, the United States has been embroiled in conflict and war in the Middle East and struggled with the threat of terrorism. At the same time, our government has seemed to many people to have become increasingly dysfunctional. As a leader who has been centrally involved throughout his career in security, foreign policy and government and has published a highly regarded memoir about his experiences, Dr. Gates promises to be a stimulating speaker and thoughtful interlocutor.”

Gates served as the 22nd secretary of defense from 2006 to 2011 and is the only secretary of defense in U.S. history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected president. Barack Obama was the eighth president Gates served during a career in various roles that stretches back to the Johnson administration. In 2011, Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

Gates began his career in the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional. He spent nearly nine of those years at the National Security Council and the White House, serving four presidents of both political parties.

Gates was director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. He is the only career officer in the CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director. He served as deputy director of Central Intelligence 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.

In addition to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal (three times) and the CIA’s highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal (also three times).

Before becoming secretary of defense in 2006, Gates was president of Texas A&M University, the nation’s seventh largest university. He has served as chancellor of the College of William & Mary since 2012 and president of the Boy Scouts of America since 2014.

Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, a New York Times #1 best-seller, is a straightforward, vividly written account of Gates’ experience serving Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His 1996 book, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, details his career as a CIA officer at the center of power during a time when the threat of global annihilation informed America’s every move.