Robert Gates will be Spring Commencement Speaker for The University of Texas at Austin

Former Secretary of Defense and former Texas AandM University president Robert M. Gates will deliver the keynote address during the 2012 spring commencement ceremony at The University of Texas at Austin on May 19.

Robert Gates
Robert Gates 

Gates, who is currently chancellor of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., will address the about 8,000 spring graduates and their guests during the 8 p.m. ceremony on the university's Main Mall.

"Robert Gates is not only a former colleague and an intellectual leader but a model of service to our nation," said Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin. "I'm personally eager to hear what he has to say and excited that our new graduates and their families are going to have the benefit of his global insights."

"Because of his leadership in higher education and prominence in the public sector, I think Secretary Gates will be a great speaker to talk to students about their accomplishment of graduating from a great institution, and how to leverage that to tackle the challenges of the future," said Student Government President Natalie Butler.

Gates served as the nation's 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 office by a newly elected president. He served under eight U.S. presidents, including George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

On Gates' last day in office, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor.

Gates began his public service career in 1966, when he joined the Central Intelligence Agency. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S Air Force the following year and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional, including service at the National Security Council and White House. He was director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993, the only career officer in CIA's history to rise from entry-level employee to director.

He also served as interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas AandM from 1999 to 2001 and president of the university from 2002 to 2006.

Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, has three times received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received CIA's highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

He is the author of the memoir "From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insiders Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War," published in 1996.

Until becoming secretary of defense, Gates was chairman of the Independent Trustees of The Fidelity Funds, the nation's largest mutual fund company, and on the board of directors of NACCO Industries, Inc., Brinker International, Inc. and Parker Drilling Company, Inc.

Gates has also served on the board of directors and executive committee of the American Council on Education, the board of directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges and the national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America. He has also been president of the National Eagle Scout Association.

A native of Kansas, Gates received his bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary, his master's degree in history from Indiana University and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University.  Gates was installed as chancellor of the College of William and Mary in February 2012.