News

Nicholas Burns welcomes Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton to Harvard

| Mar. 03, 2017

Friday, March 3, 2017
Loeb House
Harvard University

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of my American Secretaries of State Project co-chairs, Professor Bob Mnookin of Harvard Law School and Professor Jim Sebenius of Harvard Business School, we are honored to welcome you all to Loeb House and to Harvard University.

We are very grateful for the presence of Dean Doug Elmendorf of the Kennedy School and Dean Rakesh Khurana of Harvard College.

In addition, we thank Ambassador João Vale de Almeida, the Ambassador of the European Union to the United Nations for being with us and for the time he has spent with our students this week.

We are here today to honor the extraordinary public service of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Please join me in welcoming her to our campus.

Bob, Jim and I just concluded two hours of an interview with Secretary Clinton. Under the banner of One Harvard, the three of us have interviewed Secretaries Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James A. Baker III, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and now Hillary Clinton as part of the American Secretaries of State Project. Our purpose is to learn the great lessons of American diplomacy and negotiation over forty years. We intend to write a book and to help produce documentaries for public television and case studies for use in Harvard classrooms.

Secretary Clinton's time as Secretary of State from 2009-2013 was both consequential and historic.

She led the effort to sanction the Iranian government over its nuclear program and she established the strategy that brought it to the negotiating table.

She steered America's response to the Arab Revolutions of 2011 and inspired NATO's campaign to defend the Libyan people from a brutal dictator.

She was a genuine peacemaker in the Middle East in negotiating an end to the rocket wars between Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas.

She developed ties of partnership and respect with the Chinese leadership but she also faced them down over the rights of smaller countries in the South China Sea.

Secretary Clinton negotiated nuclear arms reductions with the Russian government but she stood up to Vladimir Putin at several critical junctures.

Secretary Clinton supported our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. She always maintained that diplomacy, development and defense must all be linked in one, cohesive American strategy.

She championed a new global campaign on climate change.

Most importantly, as she has done for her entire life, she has fought for human rights and women’s rights.

My former colleagues in the American Foreign and Civil Service at the State Department universally admire her. They say she was always prepared, always available, and always on duty in defense of America's indispensable role in the world. They will tell you that Hillary Clinton was a true leader as Secretary of State.

Nearly two years ago, I asked Secretary Clinton if she would visit Harvard to interview with us and to meet our students. And, despite having been otherwise engaged during the subsequent time, she has kept her promise in being with us today!

Madam Secretary, we honor you today for your service to our country. From Wellesley College to that other school in New Haven, from your time as an advocate for children to your time as First Lady, Senator from New York and Secretary of State, you are the type of public servant we want our students here today to become.

Your entire life has been lived in Teddy Roosevelt's "arena" of service, struggle, and triumph and in search of Tennyson's "Newer World" that all of us want to achieve.

Finally, Madam Secretary, may I just say on my own behalf—but I suspect I speak for everyone in this room—thank you.

You were a model of intelligence, dignity, resolve and hope in your run for the Presidency. Thank you for establishing the indisputable fact that civility and grace and duty are what we must always expect of our national leaders.

We salute you today.

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Burns, Nicholas. “Nicholas Burns welcomes Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton to Harvard.” News, , March 3, 2017.