Dartmouth 2011 Honorary Degree Recipient: The Honorable George H.W. Bush (Doctor of Laws)


[[{“type”:“media”,“view_mode”:“media_large”,“fid”:null,“attributes”:{“class”:“media-image size-full wp-image-17039”,“typeof”:“foaf:Image”,“style”:“”,“width”:“250”,“height”:“350”,“alt”:“Photo of former President George H.W. Bush”}}]] Former President George H.W. Bush (photo courtesy of President Bush)

The 41st President of the United States

George Bush was sworn in as president of the United States in January 1989 and served until January 1993. During his term in office, the Cold War ended; the threat of nuclear war was drastically reduced; the Soviet Union ceased to exist, replaced by a democratic Russia with the Baltic states becoming free; the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was reunified; and he put together an unprecedented coalition of 32 nations to liberate Kuwait after it was invaded by Iraq.

President Bush was the first sitting vice president to ascend to the presidency since 1837, and he was also only the second American president to serve a full term without party control in either chamber of Congress. Nevertheless, among the laws President Bush signed into effect were the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Clean Air Act—landmark civil rights and environmental legislation. He also successfully fought for and negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was later signed into law.

President Bush has written three books: Looking Forward, an autobiography; A World Transformed, co-authored with General Brent Scowcroft, on foreign policy during his administration, and All The Best, a collection of letters written throughout his life. In 2008, President Bush’s diary, written during his time in China, was published under the title, The China Diary of George H.W. Bush—The Making of a Global President.

Since leaving office, President Bush has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for charity. He is a life member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors and served as chairman of the board from 2002 to 2003; honorary chairman of the Points of Light Institute; and, with Mrs. Bush, was the founding co-chair of C-Change, a coalition of cancer organizations. He served from 2006 to 2008 as chairman of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and received the Liberty Medal from that organization in September 2006. He also takes an active role in the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum and The Bush School of Government and Public Service, both located on the campus of Texas A&M University

At the request of President George W. Bush, President Bush worked with President Bill Clinton to help raise funds to aid in the relief efforts following the catastrophic tsunami in Southeast Asia and Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast states. In 2006, he served as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Envoy for the South Asia earthquake. Following the destruction caused by Hurricane Ike on the Gulf Coast in September of 2008, President Bush again joined with President Clinton to form the Bush-Clinton Gulf Coast Recovery Fund to aid in the reconstruction of Gulf Coast infrastructure.

In February 2011, President Obama awarded President Bush the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

Born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Mass., George Bush became a decorated naval pilot who flew torpedo bombers during World War II. In 1944, he was shot down over the island of Chi Chi Jima and rescued. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University in 1948 with a degree in economics, he and his wife Barbara moved to Texas, where he began making his way in the oil business.

President Bush’s career in politics and public service began in 1963, when he was elected chairman of the Harris County (Texas) Republican Party. He was elected in 1966 to the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas’ Seventh District and served two terms. Before serving as vice president from 1981 to 1989 under Ronald Reagan, President Bush held a number of senior-level positions, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in China, and director of Central Intelligence.

George and Barbara Bush have five children and 17 grandchildren. Their oldest son, George W. Bush, was sworn in as the 43rd President of the United States in 2001 and served two terms, returning to Texas in January 2009. Their son Jeb Bush was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. The Bushes have been married 66 years and reside in Houston, Texas, and Kennebunkport, Maine.

Susan J. Boutwell