CWU alum James Mattis receives inaugural public service award

  • April 15, 2024
  • Rune Torgersen

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis (’71) was awarded the first-ever Thomas S. Foley Award for Distinguished Public Service by the Washington State University Foley Institute on April 9.

The Central Washington University alumnus has served his country through over 40 years of military service, including a high-ranking general position with the Marine Corps.

The award is intended to celebrate those who put their country and the welfare of its people above all else in their approach to civic leadership, creating lasting progress as a result. Its namesake, the late Tom Foley, served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989 to 1995. He was responsible for the monumental passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which continues to provide support and equitable access to those who need it across the country.

According to The Spokane Spokesman-Review, Mattis tasked the audience with carrying Foley’s legacy of caring and civic engagement forward in his acceptance speech, delivered at the ceremony at Gonzaga University.

“I trust some of you young folks in the audience will leave tonight refusing to adopt the childish practices you see too often on our television screens,” he said. “Rather, resolving to embrace the courage, the conviction, the civility and the dignity of Tom Foley.”


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Rune Torgersen

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