Introduction of United States Secretary of State John Kerry
October 15, 2015
Welcome and Acknowledgements
Thank you very much, Dean Feinstein.
Good morning and welcome to this historic address by the first sitting Secretary of State to visit Indiana University in 20 years.
Before I introduce our distinguished speaker, I want to briefly recognize a number of leaders of Indiana University who are with us today.
We are joined this morning by a number of members of the Indiana University Board of Trustees. I will ask them to stand as I introduce them, but I ask that you please hold your applause until all are introduced. With us are Ambassador Randall L. Tobias, chair of the Board of Trustees; MaryEllen K. Bishop, vice chair of the trustees; Phillip N. Eskew, Jr.; Andrew F. Mohr; Ambassador James T. Morris; Patrick A. Shoulders; and Anna M. Williams, our Student Trustee.
Please join me in welcoming our Trustees.
As Dean Feinstein mentioned, we are also joined by two very distinguished statesmen who served together in the United States Congress for more than a quarter of a century and who are known and respected around the world. We are honored that both of them now serve as Distinguished Scholars and Professors of Practice in Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies.
So please join me in welcoming Senator Richard Lugar and Congressman Lee Hamilton.
Also on the platform this morning are a number of senior leaders of Indiana University. I will also ask them to stand as I introduce them, but I ask again that you hold your applause until all are introduced. With us are John Applegate, Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs; Patrick O’Meara, Vice President Emeritus for International Affairs; Nasser Paydar, Executive Vice President and Chancellor of IUPUI; Lauren Robel, Executive Vice President and Provost of IU Bloomington; Larry Singell, Executive Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; James Wimbush, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs and Dean of the University Graduate School; and David Zaret, Vice President for International Affairs.
Please join me in welcoming them.
Introducing Secretary of State John Kerry
In a 2004 commencement speech at Tufts University, Senator Richard Lugar told graduates that the United States must commit itself “to the slow, painstaking work of foreign policy day by day and year by year.”
In his long and illustrious career in the United States Senate, and for the better part of the last three years as the senior member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, our distinguished speaker, Secretary of State John Kerry, has played a critical part in that work.
Before graduating from Yale University with a degree in political science, Secretary Kerry enlisted in the United States Navy, served two tours of duty in Vietnam as a gunboat officer on the Mekong Delta, and was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. On his return from Vietnam, and based on his view that soldiers were being sacrificed for a mission in which the nation’s leaders no longer believed, he became a national spokesman for the efforts of veterans to end the war.
After a number of years serving as a district attorney and in private law practice, he served as Lieutenant Governor of the State of Massachusetts, and, in 1984, was elected to the United States Senate, where he served for 28 years.
Among many other accomplishments in the Senate, Secretary Kerry investigated and helped to expose the Iran-Contra scandal and played an important role on a number of major humanitarian issues, including efforts to fight global poverty, HIV and AIDS, and violence against women.
During all 28 of his years in the Senate, Secretary Kerry served on the Foreign Relations Committee, where he was one of the leading and most respected voices on the major foreign policy and national security issues facing the United States, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, nuclear nonproliferation, and global climate change. With Senator Lugar, he led a successful effort that restored more than $4 billion in funding for the International Affairs Budget.
He worked for a number of years to help negotiate the United Nation’s genocide tribunal to prosecute war crimes in Cambodia's Killing Fields.
In 2004, he was, of course, the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.
He became chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2009, and among his many accomplishments in that role were his instrumental contributions to the ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, a major nuclear arms reduction agreement with Russia—a treaty on which he once again worked closely with Senator Lugar.
In December of 2012, President Obama nominated him to become the 68th Secretary of State of the United States. He was rapidly confirmed by the Senate and was sworn in on February 1st, 2013—becoming the first sitting chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to become Secretary of State in more than a century.
As Secretary of State, he has—so far—travelled nearly 900,000 miles and visited 67 countries.
Secretary Kerry has dealt with a wide range of the most difficult problems confronting the world, including the turmoil that has engulfed the Middle East and Northern Africa, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the emergence of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Russian incursions into the Ukraine, and a global migrant and refugee crisis in which more people have been displaced than at any time since World War II.
In July, Secretary Kerry finalized what was truly an historic accord formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—more informally known as the Iran nuclear deal—a major multi-lateral international agreement that will significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear capabilities for more than a decade.
And in August, Secretary Kerry raised the flag above the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, as it reopened for the first time in 54 years.
Secretary Kerry, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to Indiana and to Indiana University. As Indiana University rededicates itself as a truly international university engaged with the world through research and scholarship and through the education of the next generation of global citizens, we are honored that you have chosen to speak here, especially given your longstanding commitments to advancing international understanding and cooperation and to preserving the promise of democracy for the next generation and for the world—commitments that we wholeheartedly share.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the 68th Secretary of State of the United States—the Honorable John Kerry.