David F. Gordon ’71


Citation for David F. Gordon, 2011 Common Good Award recipient.

"David Frank Gordon of the Class of 1971, you have applied the lessons and principles of international relations learned over the course of your distinguished career in public service to guide policy decisions on a global scale.  Born in Salem, Massachusetts, you prepared for college at Lynn English High School, and established yourself as a leader at Bowdoin—as editor of The Orient, co-captain of the squash team, and a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. You earned departmental honors as a government major and, during a period of intense scrutiny and debate over United States foreign policy, you demonstrated a remarkable commitment to—and aptitude for—global affairs. After earning a master of arts degree in political science in 1973 and a Ph.D. in political science/economics at the University of Michigan in 1980, you shared your knowledge through a joint faculty appointment at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and in teaching positions at the College of William and Mary, Princeton University, Georgetown University, and the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

Your keen understanding of the interrelationships of historical, political, economic, ecological, and health issues has made you an indispensable public servant. Few among us have the capacity to see the world's problems from perspectives that transcend national boundaries or have the ability to assess the risks and consequences of policy decisions. In the best traditions of seeking the common good, you have taken on the challenges of the foreign policy arena as program director at the Overseas Development Council, senior staff member for the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, and regional economic policy and democracy advisor for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Kenya. As director of the CIA's Office of Transnational Issues you took on a host of "real world" challenges that defy easy solution, such as illicit finance, insurgency and counterinsurgency, global economics and energy, and HIV/AIDS as a global security threat. Your experience and wise counsel were sought at ever-higher levels of public service. As vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council, you led the NIC's integration into the new Office of the Director of National Intelligence and you played a central role in the preparation of reports on future global trends. In 2007 you were named director of policy planning at the State Department, where your portfolio included strategies for countering violent extremism, the scope of U.S.-China relations, developing State Department policies for Pakistan, and creating the G-20 as a multilateral response to the international financial crisis. Following your retirement from government service as a member of the Senior Intelligence Service of the United States you were awarded the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal in 2010.

In 2009 you became the head of research and director of policy planning for Eurasia Group, a firm specializing in political risk research and consulting. Through your research, your books and articles on risk management and assessment, and your advice to policy-makers, you embody the spirit of President McKeen's hope that the mental powers of Bowdoin students "be cultivated and improved for the benefit of society." We are proud to share this day with members of your family, alumni, and special guests who have been inspired by your record of public service. On behalf of the Board of Trustees I am proud to present to you the 2011 Common Good Award."