Gen. James Mattis to receive inaugural Foley Distinguished Public Service Award

Former Sectary of Defense James Mattis speaking as part of a lecture series on the WSU Pullman campus.
Retired General and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis addresses WSU students, faculty and staff on the Pullman campus in March 2022 (Photo by Dean Hare/WSU Photo Services).

SPOKANE, Wash. — Former U.S. Secretary of Defense and four-star Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis will be the inaugural recipient of the Thomas S. Foley Award for Distinguished Public Service.

The new Distinguished Service Award will be given annually by the Foley Institute at Washington State University to individuals who have demonstrated integrity, courage, and a commitment to democratic values in public service and whose body of work has had a lasting impact.

“We are honored to present this well-deserved award to Secretary Mattis and delighted that he has agreed to accept its inaugural presentation,” said Cornell Clayton, director of the Foley Institute. “Mattis’ life of service to country in both military and civilian roles truly embodies the values of courageous leadership and integrity that define Tom Foley’s legacy.”

Secretary Mattis has demonstrated these values throughout his long and distinguished career. Born in Pullman, Washington, his long military career began in 1969, when he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, and included tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, before retiring from active service in 2013. He served as United States Secretary of Defense from 2017 to 2019.

The Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service was established at Washington State University in 1995 to honor the service by Thomas S. Foley. A Spokane native, Foley represented the citizens of the 5th congressional district for 30 years, becoming the 49th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and later served as U.S. ambassador to Japan. He remains the highest elected official ever to hail from Washington state. The institute’s mission is to recognize his extraordinary legacy of public service and his belief that democracy requires an educated and informed public. Since its inception, the institute has developed a reputation for quality educational programs and engaging young people in public service.

Mattis will receive the award on April 9 in a ceremony to be held at the John J. Hemmingson Center on the Gonzaga University campus in Spokane. The event is being sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Ed Schweitzer and the Spokesman-Review newspaper.

The event dinner will serve as a fundraiser for the Foley Institute and feature a seated dinner with options for purchase of tickets, and sponsoring tables, and a keynote speech by Secretary Mattis, followed by a question-and-answer session. The evening includes a book signing of his book “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead” written with Bing West in 2021.

Please contact the Foley Institute for more information about the event, or to purchase tickets: tsfoley@wsu.edu, 509-335-3477.

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