Tonight, the Brown community joins the nation and the world in mourning the loss of one of our most distinguished diplomats, Richard C. Holbrooke ’62 LL.D. ’97. Seeker of peace, Richard Holbrooke’s career spanned decades, geography, Presidential administrations, and international conflicts. He began as a foreign service officer in Vietnam and served as the director of the Peace Corps program in Morocco in 1970. During the Carter administration, he was named assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and was instrumental in normalizing Sino-American relations. President Clinton appointed him first to serve as U.S. ambassador to Germany, then as assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs, and finally as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations with Cabinet rank. He was widely credited as the chief architect of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement that ended the war in Bosnia. Cognizant of his intellect and skills, President Obama enlisted Ambassador Holbrooke to serve as U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In the nearly 50 years since his undergraduate years at Brown, Ambassador Holbrooke remained ever true to his alma mater, strengthening the University through his commitment and service. From 2007 until his most recent Presidential appointment, he served as professor-at-large, based in the University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. He had been a member of the Watson Institute’s Board of Overseers and received the 1996 William Rogers Award, the Brown Alumni Association’s highest honor. In 1997 the University recognized Holbrooke’s contributions to our community, our nation and the world with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
A dedicated public servant, Richard Holbrooke lived a life of courage, usefulness and reputation. Though we will miss his presence and determination, his legacy will endure, inspiring generations to strive for peace.
We express the Brown community’s deep sense of loss and sympathy to Professor Holbrooke's family.