By Maria Ortega, WSU News
Various colleges, departments and programs will hold receptions for their graduates in conjunction with Saturday’s commencement ceremonies; visit
for more information. A listing of those and other commencement-related events is available at
PULLMAN, Wash. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Admiral John Scott Redd and R. James Cook, professor emeritus and winner of this year’s Wolf Prize for Agriculture, will be the featured speakers at WSU’s 115th spring commencement Saturday, May 7, at Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.
According to a 2006 Seattle Times news article and other sources, Gates has numerous ties to Washington state. He has lived in Skagit County. His wife, Becky, is a WSU graduate and member of the College of Liberal Arts Advisory Council. Their son, Brad, is a WSU graduate. Gates has said he may retire to the state.
Three WSU commencement ceremonies will be held, with more than 2,350 undergraduate and graduate students expected to participate. Commencement is open to the public; no tickets are required.
WSU President Elson S. Floyd will preside at all three ceremonies.
At 8 a.m., graduates from the colleges of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS); Engineering and Architecture; Pharmacy; Sciences; and Veterinary Medicine will receive their degrees. Cook will be the featured speaker.
Gates will speak at the 11:30 a.m. ceremony for graduates from the College of Liberal Arts and the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.
At the 3 p.m. ceremony, Redd will address graduates in the colleges of Business, Education and Nursing.
The College of Veterinary Medicine DVM ceremony will be at 7:30 p.m. in Beasley Coliseum.
8 a.m. ceremony
Cook, former dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, has a 40 year career span with WSU; 33 of those years also were with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Agricultural Research Service (ARS). During his professional life, he conducted research on biological and ecological approaches to manage root diseases of Pacific Northwest wheat.
In May, Cook will go to Jerusalem to accept the 2011 international Wolf Prize for Agriculture, which is considered to be equivalent to the Nobel Prize for agricultural research.
He served 1998-2003 as the R. J. Cook Endowed Chair in Wheat Research at WSU, a position endowed with a $1.5 million gift from the Washington Wheat Commission. He also served as interim dean of CAHNRS 2003-his retirement in 2005.
In addition to some 200 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters, Cook has co-authored two books on biological control of plant pathogens and one on wheat health management.
He has been named a fellow by the Crop Science Society of America, the American Society of Agronomy, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Plant Pathology Society. The USDA has bestowed upon him the Superior Service Award, the Distinguished Service Award, and has named him the ARS Distinguished Scientist of the Year and to the ARS Science Hall of Fame. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993.
Cook serves as one of seven citizen trustees on the board authority of the state’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund and is president of the Washington State Academy of Sciences.
He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Dakota State University and a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
11:30 a.m. ceremony
Sworn in December 2006 as the 22nd secretary of defense, Gates is the only defense secretary in U.S. history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected president. President Barack Obama is the eighth president Gates has served.
Before entering his present post, Gates was president of Texas A&M University. Prior to that, he served as interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M.
He joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966. In 1967 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served as an intelligence officer at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. He then spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional, including nearly nine years at the National Security Council in the White House, serving four presidents of both political parties.
Gates served as deputy director of the CIA 1986-1989 and as assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser at the White House 1989-1991 for President George H.W. Bush. He also served as director of the CIA 1991-1993. He is the only career officer in the CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director.
He 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.
He is 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 served as 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 also has 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 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.
3 p.m. ceremony
Redd was a vice admiral of the U.S. Navy, and the first U.S. Senate-confirmed director of the National Counterterrorism Center, serving 2005-2007.
He was born in Sidney, Iowa, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in the class of 1966. A Trident Scholar, he majored in mathematics and physics and was president of the class of 1966.
Following graduation, he studied as a Fulbright Scholar in Uruguay and as a Burke Scholar, receiving a master of science degree in operations analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School. He also attended the program for senior executives at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
During his 36 years of active duty service, Redd commanded eight organizations and served in several senior policy positions in the Pentagon. In 1995, he founded the only new U.S. Navy fleet in half a century, serving as the first commander, fifth fleet since World War II. His last assignment on active duty was as director of strategic plans and policy (DJ-5) on the Joint Staff. Redd retired from active military service in 1998.
Following his retirement from the Navy he served as CEO of NetSchools Corp., a high-tech start-up company in the education sector.
In 2004, Redd was appointed deputy administrator and chief operating officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he directed programs for the reconstruction of Iraq’s infrastructure. He also was responsible for policy affecting Iraq’s security programs, including the new Iraqi army, the Iraqi civil defense corps, Iraqi border patrol and facilities protection services.
Before retiring in 2007, Redd also served as executive director for the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, sometimes known as the WMD Intelligence Commission, and as director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
During his career, Redd also served on advisory boards of several nonprofit organizations. An avid amateur radio operator, he has won seven world championships.