An Auburn University trustee is taking the helm of the nation’s defense.
Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III, a 1986 alumnus of Auburn University and a current board of trustee, was confirmed on Friday as the nation’s secretary of defense. Austin served for 41 years in the military, including his latest role as commander of U.S. Central Command, from March 2013 to March 2016. In that role, he was responsible for the 20-country Central Region that includes Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He also served as the Combined Forces commander in Iraq and Syria. Austin has earned five Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit.
“Gen. Austin represents Auburn’s best in leadership, commitment to excellence and service to others,” said Jay Gogue, president of Auburn University. “We know he will serve our nation with distinction and honor just as he has done throughout his career.”
Austin is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York and holds a master’s degrees from Auburn University in education and Webster University in business management. He was appointed to Auburn’s board of trustees in 2017 and has served as the lead trustee for the university’s alumni committee and most recently on the research and technology committee. He is a recipient of Auburn’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Austin is the Army’s 200th four-star general and sixth African American Army four-star general. He was the first African American general officer to command a U.S. Army Division and Corps in combat. He was also the first African American general officer to command an entire theater of war and to serve as vice chief of staff, Army. In 2013, he became the first African American commander of U.S. Central Command.
His wife, Charlene, is also an Auburn University alumnus. They have two sons.