Yale Bulletin and Calendar
News Stories

June 24 - July 22, 1996
Volume 24, Number 33
News Stories


David R. Gergen '63, who has both written headlines as editor of a national magazine and made headlines as the adviser to four U.S. presidents, was chosen in a nationwide balloting of his fellow Yale graduates to serve as an alumni fellow on the Yale Corporation, the University's governing body.

Currently editor-at-large at U.S. News & World Report, Mr. Gergen is a regular conversationalist on the "PBS NewsHour" with Jim Lehrer. He is also a visiting professor at Duke University and is writing a book on presidential leadership in the late 20th century.

Mr. Gergen's devotion to public service dates back to his undergraduate days at Yale, when he worked on civil rights for North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford. According to the alumnus, "Yale opened my eyes to a much wider vista and imbued my classmates and me with a sense that we ought to serve where we could. There was a strong ethos on campus that you should give back to society by drawing upon what you'd been given."

His service at the White House began in 1971, when Mr. Gergen joined President Richard Nixon's staff following a three-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He headed the President's speechwriting and research team at age 30. Following the Nixon presidency, he advised Treasury Secretary William Simon until President Gerald Ford asked him to return to the White House to become his special counsel, a post Mr. Gergen held until 1977. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan recruited him to be White House staff director and later appointed him as the first director of a large communication operation that embraced the press office, speechwriting, public affairs and a television office.

Mr. Gergen's fourth tour of service in the White House began in mid-1993, when President Bill Clinton asked him to serve as counselor to the president. After a year of advising President Clinton on a wide range of issues, he served as special adviser to the president and the secretary of state on foreign policy until returning to the private sector in January 1995.

From 1984 to 1993, Mr. Gergen's journalistic pursuits included the editorship of U.S. News & World Report during a significant revamping that produced record gains in circulation and advertising. In 1988, he became editor-at-large at U.S. News, writing editorials and commentaries. He was also a regular commentator on national radio, and contributed articles to the Washington Post and other prominent publications.

In 1987, he began a six-year partnership with Mark Shields to provide weekly political commentary on the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour. Sometimes called the "Bert and Ernie" of politics, they were named the best television pundits of the 1988 election season by the Political Almanac.

A frequent lecturer in the United States and abroad, Mr. Gergen has twice been a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, taught for a semester at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and has moderated many seminars at the Aspen Institute, where he remains active. In 1995 he returned to his alma mater as a Poynter Fellow in Journalism. Last spring, after he began teaching at Duke, he was the unanimous choice of a student-faculty committee to serve as the University's commencement speaker.

The nonprofit organizations on whose boards Mr. Gergen sits include the American Assembly, Aspen Institute, Family Impact Seminar, the Ford Foundation's Innovations in Government Program, National Defense University and the Smithsonian Council. Active in international affairs, he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.

In addition to his B.A. from Yale College, Mr. Gergen holds a degree from the Harvard Law School and is a member of the bar in Washington, D.C. A native of Durham, North Carolina, he is married to Anne Gergen of England, a family therapist. Their son, Christopher, is a graduate of Duke and their daughter, Katherine, is graduated from Yale in May. The Gergens live in McLean, Virginia.

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