Former White House Chief of Staff to Receive Byrd Award
LEXINGTON, Va., Oct. 3, 2016 – Former White House Chief of Staff James A. Baker III will receive the Harry F. Byrd Jr. ’35 Public Service Award at VMI Nov. 2 at 11 a.m. in Cameron Hall.
Baker, 86, carries the distinction of having served in the administrations of three U.S. presidents, and in the cabinets of two of those presidents.
Baker’s White House years began in 1975 when he served as undersecretary of commerce during the administration of President Gerald Ford. Under President Ronald Reagan, he served both as chief of staff, from 1981 to 1985, and as secretary of the Treasury, from 1985 to 1988. Under Reagan’s successor, President George H.W. Bush, he served as secretary of state from 1989 to 1992 and as chief of staff from 1992 to 1993.
Active as a political strategist, especially in presidential politics, Baker led presidential campaigns for Presidents Ford, Reagan, and Bush over the course of five consecutive presidential elections from 1976 to 1992. Baker is perhaps best known for managing Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign in which Reagan polled a record 525 electoral votes total out of 538 possible and received 58.8 percent of the popular vote.
Baker received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 and has been the recipient of many other awards for distinguished public service, including Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson Award, the American Institute for Public Service’s Jefferson Award, Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Award, The Hans J. Morgenthau Award, The George F. Kennan Award, the Department of the Treasury’s Alexander Hamilton Award, the Department of State’s Distinguished Service Award and numerous honorary academic degrees.
A native of Houston, Texas, where he now resides, Baker is honorary chair of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
The Byrd Award was established in 2001 to honor a public official who has made significant civic contributions. The award selection committee includes members of the Byrd family and state and VMI officials. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. (1914-2013) was a member of the VMI Class of 1935; he served in the Navy during World War II and in the Virginia Senate and the United States Senate for a total of 35 years.