As educator and distinguished public servant, the Honorable Gordon Gray has rendered a lifetime of outstanding service to his country and to its citizens. In multiple fields of endeavor and in positions of extraordinary responsibility, Gordon Gray has exemplified, through his accomplishments in the national interest and manner of achievement, the ideals of West Point expressed in the motto, “Duty, Honor, Country.”
As President of the Consolidated University of North Carolina during the critical years of expansion and rising expectations following World War II, Gordon Gray instituted organizational and administrative concepts and procedures which markedly enhanced higher education in his state and the nation and which became examples for other public and private educational institutions. Largely as a consequence of his belief in the right of each individual to equal treatment under the law, during his presidency, the first black students were admitted to the University in a peaceful and orderly manner thereby establishing a precedent and a pattern for racial integration of institutions of higher learning in accordance with the law.
Gordon Gray’s public service has spanned almost forty years of his life. From his service as a state Senator and his World War II duty as an infantry officer to his appointments as Secretary of the Army, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Director of Defense Mobilization, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, he has brought to the service of his nation a patriot’s concern for and dedication to our national interests and a unique capacity for solving national and international problems affecting those interests.
Through his long and selfless service to his country and his fellow man, Gordon Gray has made a significant and lasting contribution to the security and welfare of the United States. The nation’s recurring call to duty and his inevitably willing response symbolize and reflect the values expressed in the West Point motto. Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy hereby presents the 1976 Sylvanus Thayer Award to Gordon Gray.