Former US defense secretary shares his expertise at USC
Robert Gates, recently retired U.S. secretary of defense, visited USC on Oct. 17 as a guest speaker for the President’s Distinguished Artist and Lecture Series at Town & Gown.
Addressing an audience of approximately 500 people, including USC trustees, faculty and students, Gates spent the evening offering his vast perspective on global affairs.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias kicked off the lecture with opening remarks.
“At USC, our passion is to equip the world’s brightest young women and men to serve as architects of this new global era. … It will take foresight, understanding and character to navigate this 21st century,” Nikias said. “That is why we are privileged tonight to hear from one of the giants of international affairs, who has helped define — and redefine — national and international security at moments of historic change.”
Gates, who served as the 22nd secretary of defense from 2006 to 2011, holds the distinction of being the only defense secretary in U.S. history to be asked to remain in the office by a president from another party. In addition, Gates had a distinguished 27-year tenure with the CIA, becoming the first person to rise from an entry-level position to head of the agency.
A former president of Texas A&M University, Gates recently became the 24th chancellor of his alma mater, William & Mary, the second-oldest institution of higher education in the country. On his last day in office as defense secretary, Gates received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of his remarkable career.
The President’s Distinguished Artist and Lecture Series is dedicated to presenting programs by men and women of international stature in the arts, letters, public service, politics and the media for the education and entertainment of the USC community and its neighbors in Southern California.
Past series have featured lectures by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, former United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw and author Amy Tan, among others.