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The LBJ School of Public Affairs Presents Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen

Event Details

Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 12:15pm

LBJ School - SRH 3.122

AUSTIN, Texas-- February 23, 2011-- The LBJ School of Public Affairs will present former U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen for a lunch-time discussion and Q&A with the LBJ School student body on March 3 at 12:15 p.m. in SRH 3.122.

In addition to serving as Secretary of Defense, Cohen also served as a Senator (1979-1997) and Congressman (1973-1979) for the State of Maine. In 1974, during his first term in Congress, TIME magazine named him as one of "America's 200 Future Leaders" and the following year the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce named him one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Men in America."

This reflected, in part, the national prominence Secretary Cohen attained as a freshman Republican Congressman who was tasked by the House Judiciary Committee to build, on national television, the evidentiary base for the impeachment of President Nixon -- and who then cast one of the critical votes to impeach.

William S. CohenIn 1978, Secretary Cohen was propelled into the Senate and was singled out to be chairman of two powerful subcommittees, the Armed Services Committee's Seapower and Force Projection Subcommittee and the Governmental Affairs Committee's Government Oversight Subcommittee. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging, Secretary Cohen led efforts to improve the efficiency of Medicare and other health care programs and was a central player in the health care reform debates of the 1990s. Secretary Cohen also was a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence for a decade, serving half that time as Vice Chairman, overseeing a large budget involving some of the nation's most advanced technology.

Secretary Cohen's experience and expertise led to his selection to serve on the "Iran-Contra Committee." His sustained leadership on environmental issues gave him the distinction of being the only Republican Senator endorsed  by the League of Conservative Voters re-election after re-election, while his efforts on behalf of small business and early leadership in reversing federal deficits won him awards from the National Federation of Independent Businessmen and the National Taxpayers Union.

Secretary Cohen's international expertise was recognized by his selection to the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1989 to 1997, whose Middle East Study Group he chaired. He has chaired and served on numerous other study groups and committees at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the School for Advanced International Studies, and the Brookings Institute. He established and led U.S. delegations to the annual Pacific Dialogue in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the American-Arab Dialogue in Cairo, both regional conferences on economic and security issues. Beginning in 1985, he led the U.S. delegation of senior executive branch officials and members of Congress to the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy, which brings together senior government and industrial officials from throughout Europe and Asia.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton asked Secretary Cohen to lead the Department of Defense, the first time in modern history when a president has chosen an elected official from the other party to be a member of his cabinet. Reversing a steady decline in defense budgets that begin in the 1980s, Secretary Cohen succeeded in modernizing the military and maintaining its readiness to fight; reversing recruitment and retention problems by enhancing pay and other benefits; and strengthening security relationships with countries around the wrold in order to reorient them from the Cold War to the challenges of a new era. Under his leadership, the U.S. military conducted the largest air warfare campaign since Wolrd War II in Serbia and Kosovo and conducted other military operations on every continent. During his tenure, Secretary Cohen held substantive meetings with foreign leaders in over 60 countries.

Secretary Cohen is the author of eleven works of nonfiction, fiction and poetry and has degrees in classical Latin and Greek. He is also an accomplished athelete and was named to the Maine all-state high school and college basketball teams and was inducted into the New England All-Star Hall of Fame.

Secretary Cohen is currently a member of the Board of Directors of CBS Corporation.