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RCC and the community gain from Navy’s loss

At the January retirement of King George County’s Dr. Robert V. Gates, the United States Navy lost the services of one of its key civilian employees . . . but Gates’s other interests will now benefit from more of his time and attention. One of these is his double board membership at Rappahannock Community College. In addition to being a member of the RCC Educational Foundation Board, Gates is a member and past chair of RCC’s College Board.

Robert Gates and Sissy Crowther

Robert Gates and Sissy Crowther

Dr. Gates’s educational achievements include a bachelor’s degree in physics from Virginia Military Institute, master’s degrees in engineering science from Pennsylvania State University and in political science/public administration from Virginia Tech, and a doctorate in public administration (with a dissertation on the strategic management of Navy laboratories), also from Virginia Tech. Graduating with distinction from the U.S. Naval War College and from the Executive Development Program of the Federal Executive Institute, he is a member of the national honor societies Phi Alpha Alpha (for public administration) and Phi Kappa Phi, and was appointed to the Federal Senior Executive Service in March 2005.

Gates has been honored with the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award, and with the John Adolphus Dahlgren Award—the highest local award granted within the Naval Surface Warfare Center laboratory in Dahlgren, Virginia—which he received in 2007, in recognition of his sustained and outstanding managerial and technical leadership to the Dahlgren Division of the NSWC, to the United States Navy, and to the nation. The position he has just left is technical director (the senior civilian position) at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, Maryland. While serving in this capacity, Gates has laid great emphasis on the importance of energetics—explosives, propellants, pyrotechnics, reactive materials, related chemicals and fuels, and their applications in propulsion systems and ordnance—to the Navy and the Department of Defense. He established the Indian Head Division’s NAVSEA technical authority in energetics and explosives, which, he said, “gives us a seat at the table for the design of future weapons systems.”

About his work with the Navy, Gates says, “I cannot imagine going through life not liking what you’re doing. I’ve been fortunate to really enjoy what I’ve done.” When asked how he would now spend his free time, Gates replied that he was active on six boards: in addition to the

RCC College Board and the RCC Foundation Board, those of the L.E. Smoot Memorial Library in King George, the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Institute, the Virginia chapter of the 8th Air Force Historical Society, and the Dahlgren Heritage Museum. He also mentioned that he might play more golf, and possibly do some public speaking and consulting work.

“It was an honor to be present at Dr. Gates’s retirement event in Waldorf [Maryland],” says RCC president Dr. Elizabeth Crowther. “He has made tremendous contributions to RCC through his work and influence on the College Board and Foundation board, and it confirmed our respect for him to hear from military, legislative, and community leaders that his significant contributions extend to the national level.” She added, “Of particular significance was a theme common to each of the tributes offered to Dr. Gates: that, aside from his obvious technical and academic qualifications, he has provided an example of integrity and character throughout his career. What a hefty tribute to an exceptional man!”

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