The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Council today elected Dr. Robert M. Gates, former secretary of defense and former director of central intelligence, as the organization’s national president. In this volunteer role, Dr. Gates will lead the National Executive Board, which guides the Boy Scouts of America as it serves 2.5 million youth members, for two one-year terms. He is the 35th president of the BSA, following telecom pioneer and co-owner of the Seattle Mariners Wayne Perry.
“The Boy Scouts of America had a profound influence on my childhood and helped form the foundation of my career in public service. I’ve had tremendous opportunities in my life, but I can say without hesitation that my memories of Scouting are every bit as vivid and meaningful as what came later. I believe every boy deserves an opportunity to experience what Scouting offers,” said Dr. Gates. “Scouting teaches youth how to set and achieve goals, develops a deep commitment to serve others, and creates leaders for tomorrow who are not only prepared to serve their communities, but also prepared for life and leadership. Just as it did for me.”
Dr. Gates has a long history of participation and service in the BSA. He is a past member of the National Executive Board; a past president of the National Eagle Scout Association; a distinguished Eagle Scout; a recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award, the highest commendation given by the BSA for extraordinary service to youth; and a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, the highest mark of distinction and recognition for those with exceptional service and unselfish interests.
“On behalf of the Boy Scouts of America’s millions of youth members and adult leaders, I am honored to welcome Dr. Gates into the role of national president,” said Wayne Brock, Chief Scout Executive. “As one of our nation’s most respected public servants and a proven leader of the highest caliber, Dr. Gates is a shining example of how our organization positions individuals for success and he will be a great ambassador for sharing the Scouting story throughout the country.”
During his notable career, Dr. Gates has served eight U.S. presidents of both political parties. He is the only secretary of defense to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected president. Prior to his post at the Department of Defense, Dr. Gates was the president of Texas A&M University, the nation’s seventh-largest university. Dr. Gates also served as director of central intelligence and is the only career officer in the CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director.
Dr. Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal and the Presidential Citizens Medal, has twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received the CIA’s highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. On his last day in office as secretary of defense, Dr. Gates was awarded the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Obama.
In addition to Scouting, Dr. Gates is the chancellor of the College of William & Mary and has served on the board of directors and executive committee of the American Council on Education and the board of directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.
A native of Kansas, Dr. Gates received his bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary, his master’s degree in history from Indiana University, and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University. He is the author of Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, which was released in January 2014. His memoir, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, was published in 1996. He and his wife, Becky, have two grown children.
See Dr. Gates speech to the National Meeting here