10 Things You Didn’t Know About Robert Gates

President-elect Barack Obama named Gates defense secretary.

Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, at the time of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, at the time of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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1. Robert Michael Gates was born on Sept. 25, 1943, in Wichita, Kan.

2. Gates attended the College of William and Mary in Virginia. He graduated in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in history.

3. As an undergraduate, Gates was involved in a wide range of activities, from Eagle Scouts to the Young Republicans to the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega—he even drove an elementary-school bus to help pay his expenses.

4. After receiving a master's degree in history from Indiana University in 1966, Gates joined the CIA as an intelligence analyst but did not begin work right away. First, he spent two years in the Air Force.

5. In the 1970s, Gates worked for five years for the National Security Council. Along the way, he also earned a Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University in 1974.

6. Gates served as the acting head of the CIA in 1986 and 1987 when William Casey became ill with cancer. Gates was nominated to replace Casey, but he withdrew his name from consideration when questions were raised about his role in the Iran-contra affair. He was nominated again, and confirmed, in 1991.

7. Following a stint as acting dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, Gates served as president of the university from 2002 to 2006.

8. President George W. Bush reportedly asked Gates to become the first director of national intelligence when that department was established in 2005, but he declined, saying at the time that he was committed to Texas A&M's five-year expansion plan.

9. Gates became defense secretary in December 2006 after Donald Rumsfeld resigned.

10. Gates and his wife, Becky, have two adult children, Eleanor and Brad.

Sources:

  • Associated Press
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Austin American-Statesman
  • Charlotte Observer
  • Daily Press
  • Kansas City Star
  • New York Times
  • USA Today