Retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral’s career included combat during Desert Storm and both Iraq and Afghanistan wars
MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University (MSU) will welcome Adm. William H. McRaven for the 2020 Presidential Lecture, to take place Feb. 13, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. inside Lovett Auditorium. Supported by the Murray State University Office of the President, MSU Foundation and the Student Government Association, the event is free and open to the public. McRaven will speak of his professional career and unique connection to the University through his father, alumnus Colonel Claude McRaven, ’41. A Q&A session will follow the lecture.
“It is truly an honor to have Adm. Bill McRaven, an American hero, speak at Murray State University as part of our Presidential Lecture Series,” said Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson. “Adm. McRaven has a special connection to Murray State through his father, Colonel Claude ‘Mac’ McRaven, a 1941 alumnus, Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame football player and track star, as well as a decorated World War II fighter pilot. Our campus community and alumni, along with our region, will enjoy Adm. McRaven’s message.”
McRaven is a retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral and the former chancellor of the University of Texas system. During his time in the military, he commanded special operations forces at every level, eventually taking charge of the U.S. Special Operations Command. His career included combat during Desert Storm and both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He commanded the troops that captured Saddam Hussein and rescued Captain Richard Phillips. McRaven is also credited with leading the Osama bin Laden mission in 2011.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to visit Murray State University,” said McRaven. “My father was so proud to have attended the school and always talked longingly about the Bluegrass State. His life, and therefore my life, were shaped in so many ways by what he learned and who he met at Murray. To be able to walk the grounds where my father considered his home will be a cherished experience.”
McRaven is also a recognized national authority on U.S. foreign policy and has advised Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and other U.S. leaders on defense issues. He currently serves on the boards of the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Football Foundation, the International Crisis Group and ConocoPhillips.
McRaven has been recognized for his leadership numerous times. In 2011, he was the first runner-up for TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year.” In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named McRaven one of the nation’s “Top 10 Foreign Policy Experts.” In 2014, Politico magazine named McRaven one of the “Politico 50,” citing his leadership as instrumental in cutting through Washington bureaucracy. In 2015, he received the Intrepid Freedom Award for his distinguished service in defending the values of democracy. In 2016, McRaven was named the recipient of the Ambassador Richard M. Helms Award by the Central Intelligence Agency Officers’ Memorial Foundation. In 2018, he received the Judge William H. Webster Distinguished Service Award for a lifetime of service to the nation.
McRaven’s father, Claude, was inducted into the Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975. As a collegian, Claude scored nine touchdowns while gaining Honorable Mention Little All-America honors, as well as selections on the All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association and All-Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams in 1938.
While a student athlete, McRaven also captained and helped organize the school’s first track team. His specialties were the 100 and 220-yard runs. Following graduation, he joined the former Cleveland Rams — before they moved to Los Angeles — and was a two-year starting halfback before voluntarily joining the military. The military proved to be his liking as Claude flew combat missions in the North Africa, Sicily and Italy campaigns during World War II. After 28 years, he retired as an Air Force Colonel in 1967. Along the way, he earned the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross and 13 awards of the Air Medal.