In the latest of a long line of professional achievements, William “Bill” Burns ’73 has been unanimously confirmed by the US Senate to head the CIA, after a notably uncontentious hearing, indicating broad bipartisan support.
At Trinity, Bill was at the top of his class and was chosen by his classmates as “most studious.” His classmates were right—he went on to earn a B.A. in History from La Salle University and a Master’s degree and Doctorate in International Relations from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar.
Following his education Bill entered the Foreign Service and served in the State Department. Notable appointments during his tenue include: Ambassador to Jordan (1998 to 2001), Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (2001 to 2005), Ambassador to Russia (2005 to 2008), Under Secretary for Political Affairs (2008 to 2011), and Deputy Secretary of State (2011 to 2014).
During his 33-year career, Bill served under five presidents and ten secretaries of state and was the recipient of many awards, including three Presidential Distinguished Service Awards, three Secretary’s Distinguished Service Awards, two Distinguished Honor Awards, the 2006 Charles E. Cobb, Jr. Ambassadorial Award for Initiative and Success in Trade Development, the 2005 Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award for Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking, and the James Clement Dunn Award for exemplary performance at the mid-career level. He has also received the highest civilian honors from the Department of Defense and the U.S. intelligence community. In 2013, Foreign Policy named him “Diplomat of the Year”. In 1994, he was named to TIME Magazine’s list of the “50 Most Promising American Leaders Under Age 40”, and its list of “100 Young Global Leaders”.
After his retirement from the Foreign Service, Bill was named as the 9th president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the oldest international affairs think tank in the United States. As recently as 2016, Bill has visited Trinity to talk about his career with students. He has been described as one of the finest U.S. diplomats of the last half century and we congratulate him on his nomination.