Campus News

David Gordon '71 to Receive 2011 Common Good Award

Story posted January 31, 2011

David F. Gordon, a member of the Class of 1971 and an extraordinary public servant, has counseled leaders from all walks of life (including several American Presidents) on global political and economic policy issues, and has been instrumental in the formulation of U.S. foreign and national security policies.

For his tireless efforts, Gordon has been selected by the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees to receive the 2011 Common Good Award.

David Gordon '71

Established in 1994 on the occasion of the Bowdoin College Bicentennial, the Common Good Award honors those alumni who have demonstrated an extraordinary, profound and sustained commitment to the common good, in the interest of society, with conspicuous disregard for personal gain in wealth or status.

Gordon is currently head of research and director of Global Macro Analysis for Eurasia Group, one of the world's leading political risk research and consulting firms, which he joined after retiring from public service in 2009. Before that, Gordon spent more than a decade working at the highest levels of U.S. foreign and national security policy apparatuses.

His final post in government was as director of policy planning for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, where he grappled with issues as diverse as countering violent extremism, deepening U.S. relations with China, seeking global consensus on climate change, and creating the G-20 to enable an effective global response to the international financial crisis.

Prior to this work in the State Department, Gordon held leadership positions at the National Intelligence Council and the CIA's Office of Transnational Issues. His pioneering work on HIV/AIDS as a global security threat gave impetus to the efforts undertaken both in the US and at the UN to address this global scourge. After 9/11, Gordon was intimately involved in efforts to restructure and reinvigorate the US intelligence community, and was a chief advisor to the first Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte. For his service, Gordon was awarded the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal by CIA Director Leon Panetta in 2010.

Earlier in his career, Gordon was a senior fellow and director at the Overseas Development Council, a senior staff member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the regional economic policy and democracy/governance advisor for the U.S. Agency for International Development based in Nairobi, Kenya.

A government major at Bowdoin, Gordon was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, editor of The Bowdoin Orient and co-captain of the squash team.

"My experiences at Bowdoin, during a tumultuous time, shaped my life-long interest in global affairs and my personal commitment to seeking the common good," says Gordon. "I always saw my government service as a great privilege; and leadership of public institutions, for me, involved being a trustee for the future."

After graduation, Gordon undertook graduate studies in both political science and economics at the University of Michigan, where he earned his doctorate.

Following graduate school, Gordon pursued an academic career with a joint appointment at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. He has also taught at the College of William and Mary, Princeton University, Georgetown University and the University of Nairobi.

A widely published author, Gordon's latest book is one he co-edited, Managing Strategic Surprise: Lessons from Risk Management and Risk Assessment (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Born in Salem, Mass., Gordon and his wife, Joan Parker, have two children and live in Washington, D.C.

Gordon has many family ties to Bowdoin, including his father, Irving E. Gordon '50, sister Lilli A. Gordon '76 and brother Scott C. Gordon '83.

Common Good Award recipients personify the idea of the common good as set forth by Bowdoin's first president, Joseph McKeen. In his inaugural address on September 2, 1802, McKeen reminded his audience,"It ought always to be remembered that literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education. It is not that they may be able to pass through life in an easy and reputable manner, but that their mental powers may be cultivated and improved for the benefit of society."

The Common Good Award will be presented Saturday, June 4, 2011, during Reunion Convocation.

Registration for Reunion 2011 (June 2-5) begins at the end of February. More information here.

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