More than 1,000 students, faculty, and members of the community gathered at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Thursday, Sept. 9, to hear the Honorable James A. Baker III deliver a lecture on leadership.
“I believe leadership is a commitment to values and the perseverance to fight for those values. In other words, we should know what to do and just do it. That’s leadership,” Baker said.
Baker, who served as the nation’s 61st U.S. Secretary of State and 67th Secretary of the Treasury, listed Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush as examples of effective leaders. He spoke about his experience working at the White House and answered audience questions about current national issues ranging from the recession and government spending to North Korea and the current administration.
“I think we’re at another critical point in American history because the decisions we make today are going to affect our country for generations to come. The history of the 21st century will be dependent on the quality of leadership that America provides in the coming years,” Baker said.
Baker served in senior government positions under three United States presidents, beginning in 1975 as Under Secretary of Commerce to President Gerald Ford.
Under President Ronald Reagan, Baker was Secretary of the Treasury from 1985 to 1988. As Treasury Secretary, he was also Chairman of the President’s Economic Policy Council. From 1981 to 1985, he was White House Chief of Staff.
Under President George H. W. Bush, Baker served as Secretary of State from January 1989 through August 1992. During his tenure at the State Department, Baker traveled to 90 foreign countries as the United States confronted the unprecedented challenges and opportunities of the post–Cold War era. Baker’s reflections on those years of revolution, war, and peace were published in 1995 under the title, The Politics of Diplomacy.
Baker also served President Bush as White House Chief of Staff and Senior Counselor from August 1992 to January 1993.
Baker’s 2006 memoir—Work Hard, Study . . . and Keep Out of Politics! Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life—sold out at the conclusion of the lecture. The event was sponsored by UMHB and The Institute for the Humanities at Salado.