BIRMINGHAM – Condoleezza Rice, the former US secretary of state and a notable figure in American politics and academia, has charted a course of groundbreaking achievements throughout her career.
According to TourismAfrica2006, Rice was born on November 14, 1954, in Birmingham, Alabama. Her parents, John Wesley Rice Jr., a minister and dean, and Angelena (Ray) Rice, a high school teacher, named her Condoleezza from the Italian phrase “con dolcezza,” meaning “with sweetness.” Rice’s academic journey began at the University of Denver, where she enrolled at the tender age of 15. She graduated at 19 with a Bachelor of Arts, receiving Phi Beta Kappa honors, went on to earn a Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1975, and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Denver in 1981.
Rice’s illustrious career took shape at Stanford University, where she was appointed to the faculty as a professor of political science in 1981. Her excellence in teaching was recognized with the Walter J. Gores Award in 1984 and the School of Humanities and Sciences Dean’s Award in 1993. Rice’s service extended beyond academia; she served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1986 and as Special Assistant to President George H.W. Bush for National Security Affairs in 1989.
In 1993, Rice made history by becoming both the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position of provost at Stanford University, also noted as the youngest individual ever appointed. After a tenure as provost, she continued to serve Stanford as a faculty member upon resigning the administrative post in June 1999.
Rice was central to the formation of the Iraqi Stabilization Group in 2003 under President George W. Bush and was pivotal in international negotiations, testifying before the 9-11 Commission in April 2004. Her appointment as US secretary of state in 2005 marked her as the first African-American woman to hold the position. Her tenure as secretary was marked by significant diplomatic efforts, including a ceasefire agreement between Russia and Georgia in 2008 and a historic meeting with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi the same year.
After her government service, Rice returned to Stanford University, where she continued to contribute to public policy and international affairs. She has penned several memoirs and books reflecting on her experiences and views on democracy and global security. Beyond academia and writing, Rice has played roles on various boards, including Dropbox, Chevron, Charles Schwab, and the Rand Corporation, and made history again as one of the first two female members of the Augusta National Golf Club.
Rice’s participation in arts and sports, from performing with Aretha Franklin to joining the NFL’s Denver Broncos’ ownership group, showcases her versatile engagement with public life. As of September 2020, she serves as the director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.