Chestertown, MD, August 15, 2006 — On Thursday, August 24, 2006, Washington College will welcome 320 new freshmen and their parents during the college's annual Freshman Convocation. The Convocation will also honor Ambassador David M. Abshire, a decorated foreign diplomat, former Special Counselor to President Ronald Reagan, and President of the Center for the Study of the Presidency. Ambassador Abshire will receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the college. Ceremonies will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the Cain Gymnasium.
This year's freshmen class—one of the largest in the college's history—represents more than 20 states and five foreign nations. More than 40 percent of the class are members of the National Honor Society and 36 percent were in the top 10 percent of their high school's graduating classes.
"The students of the Class of 2010 show great potential and promise," said Baird Tipson, President of Washington College. "They are diverse, motivated, and immersed in a world vastly more complex and interconnected than a decade ago. They face a world in transition and a world in crisis. Our honored guest, Ambassador Abshire, has also faced world crises and made a great impact in international affairs, not only through his role as a diplomat but also as a scholar and historian of presidential leadership, national security, and foreign policy. His life and his work are examples to our students of who will tackle new challenges—political, economic, environmental, and educational—on a global scale."
Co-founder with Admiral Arleigh Burke of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Ambassador Abshire served as Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations from 1970-1973 and later as Chairman of the U.S. Board of International Broadcasting. He was a member of the Murphy Commission on the Organization of the Government, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and the President's Task Force on U.S. Government International Broadcasting. During the transition of government in 1980, President Reagan asked him to head the National Security Group, which included the State and Defense Departments, the U.S. Information Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency. He has also served on the Advisory Board of the Naval War College and on the Executive Panel of the Chief of Naval Operations.
In the mid-1980s, he served as Ambassador to NATO where, in reaction to the threat posed by Soviet SS-20 missiles, he was the U.S. point man in Europe for deployment of Pershing and Cruise missiles.
It was this NATO success that convinced the Soviets to sign the historic INF Treaty and withdraw their missiles. Ambassador Abshire initiated a new conventional defense improvement effort so that NATO would not have to rely heavily on nuclear weapons. For this, he was given the highest Defense Department civilian award—its Distinguished Public Service Medal.
A graduate of West Point, he received his doctorate in history from Georgetown University, and for many years was an adjunct professor at its School of Foreign Service. In 2002, he helped establish the Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy at CSIS, and was elected President of the Richard Lounsbery Foundation of New York, which gives grants in the fields of science and education. In 2003, he served on the Advisory Group for Public Diplomacy mandated by Congress. In 2005, he chaired a panel for the Homeland Security Advisory Board to develop layered defenses against weapons of mass effect for the maritime domain.
Founding editor of The Washington Quarterly and author of the CSP publications The Character of George Washington and Lessons for the 21st Century: Vulnerability and Surprise, December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001, Ambassador Abshire has written six books, including Saving the Reagan Presidency (2005), Foreign Policy Makers: President vs. Congress (1979), and Preventing World War III: A Realistic Grand Strategy (1988). He is editor of Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Presidency: Seventy-Six Case Studies on Presidential Leadership (2002).