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About the BSA

National President (Volunteer)

Dr. Robert M. Gates, former secretary of defense and Gatesformer director of central intelligence, serves as the 35th national president of the Boy Scouts of America.

Gates has a long history of participation and service in the BSA. He is a past member of the National Executive Board; past president of the National Eagle Scout Association; a distinguished Eagle Scout; 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.

During his notable career, 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, Gates was the president of Texas A&M University, the nation’s seventh-largest university. 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.

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, Gates was awarded the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Obama.          

In addition to Scouting, Gates is the chancellor of the College of William and 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, 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. He is the author of Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, released 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.