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Humanities and Social Sciences Advocate Karl Eikenberry to Give NC State Commencement Address

When NC State welcomes Ambassador Karl Eikenberry to campus this month, our college will help play host.

Eikenberry, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and director of Stanford University’s U.S.-Asia Security Initiative, will deliver the university’s commencement address on Dec. 18 in Raleigh. He’ll also receive an honorary degree, conferred by Chancellor Randy Woodson.
The Goldsboro, North Carolina, native — who is affiliated with Stanford’s centers for international security, Europe, and democratic, sustainable development — is a champion of humanities and social sciences. He served on a commission that produced The Heart of the Matter, a report written at the request of a bipartisan congressional committee that detailed both the neglect of humanities and social sciences, and their essential importance.

Ambassador Karl Eikenberry

“Ambassador Eikenberry brings a unique perspective to national discussions over the role of humanities and social sciences,” says Jeff Braden, dean of Humanities and Social Sciences. “He commanded allied forces in Afghanistan — a role most would assume would cause him to eschew the role of humanities and social sciences in favor of technology. But he firmly believes humanities and social sciences are critical to achieving our nation’s strategic goals. We are delighted that NC State chose him to address the university’s graduating students.”

While he’s on campus, Eikenberry will also be a special guest at the college’s Interdisciplinary Studies graduation, where he will give a separate commencement address. In addition, he’s making time to meet with students and faculty involved with international studies, security studies, and discerning the role of the humanities and social sciences in the 21st century.

As ambassador to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2011, Eikenberry led the civilian surge directed by President Barack Obama to reverse insurgent momentum and set the conditions for transition to full Afghan sovereignty. Before appointment as chief of mission in Kabul, he had a 35-year career in the U.S. Army, retiring as lieutenant general. He served as commander and staff officer in the continental U.S., Hawaii, Korea, Italy and Afghanistan, commanding American-led coalition forces from 2005 to 2007.

Eikenberry is former deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee. He has held policy and political-military positions related to Afghanistan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia. In addition to U.S. military and government honors, Eikenberry has won decorations from Canada, France and Afghanistan and the NATO Meritorious Service Medal.