Ryan Crocker, dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University, will be the first recipient of the US Naval Academy’s Bancroft Award for Exceptional Leadership Achievement. The Bancroft Award, named after George Bancroft, former secretary of the Navy who founded the US Naval Academy in 1845, was created to recognize outstanding leaders who are not graduates of the US Naval Academy but “through their personal sacrifice, unremitting determination, extraordinary vision, and unwavering integrity have made substantial contributions to the United States.” Crocker will receive the award in the fall of this year at a ceremony where he will speak to the more than 4,500 officers-in-training at the Academy.
“It is an extraordinary honor to receive this award from one of our country’s finest institutions,” said Crocker. “The US Naval Academy develops America’s leaders of tomorrow, and I look forward to speaking to the courageous men and women who have made such a serious commitment to public service.”
Dean Crocker retired from the Foreign Service in April 2009 after a career of over thirty-seven years but was recalled to active duty by President Obama in 2011 to serve as US ambassador to Afghanistan. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he has served as US ambassador six times: Afghanistan (2011-2012), Iraq (2007-2009), Pakistan (2004-2007), Syria (1998-2001), Kuwait (1994-1997), and Lebanon (1990-1993). From May to August 2003, he was in Baghdad as the first director of governance for the Coalition Provisional Authority and was deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs from August 2001 to May 2003. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1971, he also has had assignments in Iran, Qatar, Iraq, and Egypt, as well as Washington. He was assigned to the American Embassy in Beirut during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the bombings of the embassy and the Marine barracks in 1983.
Crocker has received numerous other awards for his public service, including the Presidential Distinguished and Meritorious Service Awards, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award (2008 and 2012), the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service (1997 and 2008), the Distinguished Public Service Award (2012), the Award for Valor, and the American Foreign Service Association Rivkin Award for Creative Dissent. In May 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the establishment of the Ryan C. Crocker Award for Outstanding Achievement in Expeditionary Diplomacy. In July 2012, he was named an Honorary Marine, the 75th civilian so honored in the 237 year history of the Corps.
Crocker began his service as dean of the Bush School in 2010, taking a leave of absence between 2011 and 2013 in order to serve as US ambassador to Afghanistan. During his time as dean, the Bush School has grown tremendously, with record enrollment during the past several years and several impressive additions to the Bush School faculty.