David Gergen was a Staff Assistant to the President and reported directly to Ray Price, the Director of the Office of Research
and Messages. The Gergen materials in the Special Files consist of Presidential action requests and memoranda to or from Arthur
Burns, Counselor of the President.
David Richmond Gergen was born on May 9, 1942 in Durham, North Carolina. He graduated from Yale University with a B.A. degree
in 1963 and earned a LL.B. degree from Harvard Law School in 1967. That same year, he married Anne Elizabeth Wilson. Between
1967 and 1971, Gergen served in the United States Navy.
In 1971, Gergen joined President Richard Nixon’s administration as a Staff Assistant to the President, with duties pertaining
to research and speech writing, and later became a Special Assistant in 1973. In his capacity as Special Assistant, Gergen
led the speech writing team. After Nixon’s resignation, Gergen was appointed as Special Counsel to President Gerald Ford
in 1974 and remained in that position until 1977. After working as an advisor on George H. W. Bush’s unsuccessful 1980 presidential
election campaign, he resumed his public service career in 1981 as the White House Staff Director for President Ronald Reagan
and, later, as Director of Communications. Gergen left the White House for the private sector in 1984. He worked as an editor
of U.S. News & World Report during the period 1985-86.
Gergen returned to the White House once more in 1993 when he was recruited by President Bill Clinton to be Counsel to President.
He served as an advisor to the President and Secretary of State Warren Christopher on foreign policy matters until 1995, at
which time he once again left public service for a career in academia.
David Gergen’s television appearances as a political analyst include the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour program and various CNN programs.
As a writer, he has contributed to U.S. News & World Report, Parade magazine, the New York Times, Newsweek, and the Washington
Post. In 2000, he published Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton. In addition, Gergen has been
a member or served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Aspen Institute, Teach for America, the Ford Foundation’s
Innovation in Government program, and the Council for Foreign Relations.
Between 1995 and 1999, Gergen taught at Duke University. In 1999, he joined the faculty at Harvard University. As of 2012,
he is both a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Director of the University’s Center for Public
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