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Commencement Speaker


Gergen_David_PROMOPICDavid Gergen

Senior Political Analysts, CNN
Center for Public Leadership, Co-Director

David Gergen is the co-director of the Center for Public Leadership, a senior political analyst for CNN and has served as an adviser to four U.S. presidents of both parties. He is a professor of public service at the Harvard Kennedy School and the co-director of its Center for Public Leadership. In 2000, he published the best-selling book, Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton.

Gergen was born in Durham, North Carolina, where his father taught mathematics at Duke University. He graduated with honors from both Yale College (1963) and Harvard Law School (1967) and served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for nearly three and a half years, posted to a ship in Japan.

Gergen joined the Nixon White House in 1971, as a staff assistant on the speech writing team, a group of heavyweights that included Pat Buchanan, Ben Stein and Bill Safire. Gergen went on to work in the administration of Gerald Ford and as an adviser to the 1980 George H.W. Bush presidential campaign.

He served as director of Communications for Ronald Reagan and as adviser to Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Warren Christopher on domestic and foreign affairs.

In the 1980s, he began a career in journalism. Starting with The McNeil-Lehrer NewsHour in 1984, he has been a regular commentator on public affairs for some 28 years. Twice he has been a member of election coverage teams that won Peabody awards. In the late 1980s, he was chief editor of U.S. News & World Report, working with publisher Mort Zuckerman to achieve record gains in circulation and advertising. Today, he appears frequently on CNN as senior political analyst.

Gergen joined the Harvard faculty in 1999, and his work as director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School has enabled him to work closely with a rising generation of younger leaders, especially social entrepreneurs, military veterans and Young Global Leaders chosen by the World Economic Forum. Through the generosity of outside donors, the Center helps to provide scholarships to 50-60 students a year, preparing them to serve as leaders for the common good. The Center also promotes scholarship at the frontiers of leadership studies.

He is active as a speaker on leadership and sits on many boards, including Teach for America, the Aspen Institute and The Mission Continues. He is a member of the Washington D.C. Bar and the Council on Foreign Relations and holds 25 honorary degrees.

Gergen has been married since 1967 to Anne Elizabeth Gergen of England, a family therapist. They have two children and five grand-children. Son Christopher is a social entrepreneur in North Carolina as well as an author and member of the Duke faculty. Daughter Katherine is a family doctor, working with the underserved population at the Boston Medical Center.