Dear Friends of the Corporation,

On behalf of the board of trustees and staff of Carnegie Corporation of New York, I am writing to share that we have extended our deepest congratulations to our trustee General Lloyd J. Austin III. As you likely have seen, President-elect Biden has nominated him to be the next Secretary of Defense. It is a much-deserved recognition of General Austin’s leadership, valor, experience, and decades of service to our nation.

General Austin joined the Corporation’s board of trustees in 2016 after retiring from the military, where he had served with distinction for 41 years. He rose to become the first Black general to command an Army division in combat and the first to oversee a theater of operations. He is a man of great integrity, humility, and accomplishment, and a person of action and principle. The Corporation has benefited from his intellect and wise counsel, especially in matters pertaining to our international peace and security portfolio of philanthropic grants. I can say with confidence that as Secretary of Defense, General Austin will serve our country well.

Our foundation, established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911, has always sought to provide a service to our democracy. We are inspired by the contributions of our grantees, Ash Carter and William J. Perry, who joined the cabinets of past administrations. In the past, the Corporation’s trustees have also served our country at the highest levels, including, most notably, Condoleezza Rice, Warren Christopher, Richard W. Riley, and Robert E. Rubin. Corporation president John W. Gardner served as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Lyndon Johnson. Elihu Root, who was Andrew Carnegie’s confidante and lawyer and a longtime trustee of the Corporation, served as Secretary of War under President William McKinley and as Secretary of State under President Theodore Roosevelt.

I have personally conveyed my warm commendation of General Austin to President-elect Biden and was pleased to read his personal words of emphatic support published this week in the Atlantic magazine. The president-elect writes that under General Austin’s leadership, the Department of Defense “will never fail to advance the security of the American people in ways that honor our highest values and ideals.”

Whatever the outcome of the Senate confirmation process in the weeks to come, we are proud of General Austin. We are also encouraged by what his nomination represents for the future of our democracy and of our hopes for a more stable and peaceful world.

Yours truly,
Vartan Gregorian

(Credit: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images)