Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan To Resign; Accepts Presidency of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y.
June 1, 1999Washington, D.C., June 1, 1999—Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan announced today that he was resigning from his position later this summer to become President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, an affiliated pair of prestigious liberal arts colleges located in Geneva, N.Y. After meeting this morning with President Clinton in the Oval Office, Gearan met with several hundred staff members at the Peace Corps headquarters this afternoon to announce his departure.
President Clinton said that one of the best personnel decisions he made as President was to appoint Gearan as the Director of the Peace Corps.
"I believe Mark Gearan has been one of the most successful Directors since President Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961," Clinton said. "He has rejuvenated the Peace Corps and demonstrated a deep commitment to its legacy of service and the women and men who serve as Peace Corps volunteers."
Gearan, who was confirmed as Peace Corps Director by the U.S. Senate in August 1995, said that he was grateful for the opportunity to have served as head of one of the world's most successful international volunteer organizations.
"I have many people to thank for making these last four years so successful, most importantly President Clinton, Vice President Gore, Mrs. Clinton, members of Congress, and the thousands of Americans who serve our country and the world as Peace Corps volunteers," he said. "It has been a great honor for me to have served as the Director of the Peace Corps. I will leave here with enduring respect and admiration for our volunteers and the contributions they make to international peace and development."
Gearan's four-year tenure as Director is the third-longest in the Peace Corps' 38-year history; only founding director Sargent Shriver and the late Loret Miller Ruppe served longer.
Gearan also said he was grateful for the offer to serve as the new President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. "I am deeply honored by the confidence that the Board of Trustees has placed in me. Hobart and William Smith Colleges have outstanding reputations, and I look forward to building on their great traditions of academic excellence, international studies, and public service," Gearan said. "My family and I appreciate this extraordinary opportunity, and we look forward to becoming part of the Hobart and William Smith community."
At 42, Gearan will be one of the country's youngest presidents of a major undergraduate institution, bringing both extensive experience in public service and a strong commitment to undergraduate liberal arts education and international studies.
Gearan spoke fondly of his tenure as Director of the Peace Corps. "I will always remember my years at the Peace Corps as among the most rewarding of my life," he said. "I thank everyone—the volunteers, the staff, the returned volunteers, members of Congress, and my friends in the Administration—for their support and friendship."
Under Gearan's leadership, the Peace Corps has seen a resurgence of interest among Americans interested in serving overseas as volunteers. Gearan opened new Peace Corps volunteer programs in South Africa, Jordan, Mozambique, and Bangladesh, and he traveled to more than two dozen countries to visit volunteers at their sites. In 1996, he established the Crisis Corps, a new program that enables former Peace Corps volunteers to help overseas communities recover from natural disasters and humanitarian crises.
As Peace Corps Director, Gearan has worked to support more than 6,700 volunteers in 77 countries and to create more opportunities for Americans to serve in the Peace Corps. He built bipartisan support in Congress for an initiative, announced in January 1998 by President Clinton, to expand the Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers. On May 21, President Clinton signed into law an authorization bill that puts tPeace Corps on the path to 10,000 volunteers by the year 2003. Gearan also successfully improved maPeace Corps on the path to 10,000 volunteers by the year 2003. Gearan also successfully improved management operations at the Peace Corps and strengthened the agency's ties to thousands of former volunteers across the country.
Prior to his confirmation as Peace Corps Director, Gearan served as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Gearan served as Vice-President Gore's campaign manager and was appointed Deputy Director of President-elect Clinton's transition team. He has served as Executive Director of the Democratic Governor's Association, as a senior member of Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign, and as an aide to former Congressmen Robert Drinan of Massachusetts and Berkeley Bedell of Iowa.