Robert Gates to speak at Western Washington University leadership forum

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will speak Thursday at the Western Washington University Leadership Forum.
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will speak Thursday at the Western Washington University Leadership Forum. Associated Press file

Robert Gates, a former U.S. secretary of defense and CIA director, will headline Western Washington University’s Leadership Forum on Thursday.

The forum will be at the Hotel Bellwether, at 1 Bellwether Way. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. before a noon lunch. Gates’ keynote address will begin at 12:45 p.m., Western officials said.

The forum, now in its 15th year, aims to connect local business leaders with the university community, WWU said, and give attendees a chance to hear from a “prominent professional.” Attendees can buy table sponsorships for $1,500, $2,500 and $3,500.

Individual tickets are $125. All proceeds help fund student scholarships, the university said.

Gates now serves as chancellor of the College of William & Mary, his alma mater, in Williamsburg, Va. But he has ties to Washington state. After serving as CIA director under President George W. Bush, Gates moved to Big Lake, near Mount Vernon, according to The Seattle Times. He still lives in the state, his College of William & Mary biography says.

Gates’ tenure with the CIA began in 1966 and spanned 27 years, the bio says. He is the only career officer in the CIA who rose to director from an entry-level position.

He served as defense secretary first under President George W. Bush in 2006, and was reappointed to the post when President Barack Obama took office, remaining there until 2011. On Gates’ last day in office, Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

Gates’ resume also includes nearly three years as deputy national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush, president of Texas A&M University, and two terms as president of the Boy Scouts of America.

He has written three books. His latest, published earlier this year, is titled “A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service.” The book will be on sale at the event.

Visit wwu.edu/leadershipforum or call 360-650-6825 to make reservations or find more information.

The Thursday event will not be open to the media, said university spokesman Paul Cocke.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

If you go

What: Western Leadership Forum

When: Thursday, Nov. 17; doors open at 11:30 a.m.

Where: The Hotel Bellwether, 1 Bellwether Way in Bellingham