William E. Jackson. Jr. ’57
William Elias Jackson, Jr. was born on a peach farm, and came to Davidson from West End High School in Moore County, North Carolina. From Davidson he went on to become an expert on international affairs, testifying before the U.S. Senate, serving as a top aide to a Senate leader, and advising two U.S. presidents.
Bill was a member of the Davidson track and cross-country teams, earning "D Club" athletic honors, and was also a member of the International Relations Club. Davidson professor Harold Ford piqued his interest in world affairs by encouraging him to read The New York Times; a course on American diplomatic history from Sam Spencer, Jr., was another important influence. He graduated in 1957 with majors in economics and political science, and was later named to the Omicron Delta Kappa national honor society while he was a professor at Davidson.
Jackson pursued graduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned his master's degree in international affairs. From there, he went to Columbia University--entering through the Russian Institute--and majored in comparative government with a focus on the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China.
For two years, Bill served as the research assistant to Samuel P. Huntington of the Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia; and received a Ford Foundation grant to serve as an aide to New York state senator Walter Mahoney, the Republican Majority Leader of the New York State Senate.
Bill's passion for politics then led him to Washington, D.C., where under President John F. Kennedy, he served in the Executive Office of the President, Bureau of the Budget, International Division, tracking fore ign milit ary aid and military sales. Later he would serve as the chief legislative assistant under Senate Majority Whip Alan Cranston of California; and then as executive director of President Jimmy Carter's General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament. In the latter post, he jointly served as Special Assistant to Director of the Arms Control & Disarmament Agency (ACDA) and Chief Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) Negotiator, Paul Warnke. He received the Department of Defense's Commendation for Service in the Cold War, primarily for his role in the SALT talks and American-Russian relations.
Under Secretary of State, and former senator from Maine, Edmund Muskie, Jackson was the State Department liaison to the Senate in 1980-81. He continued as Muskie's foreign policy advisor in the law firm of Chadbourne & Parke.
Before and after his Washington appointments, Bill heeded the call to share his knowledge and expertise with eager, young minds. He taught political science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and, for five years, Davidson had the honor of claiming him among its stellar faculty.
Bill left Washington in the early 1980s, but he never left the realm of international relations. After a stint as a Guest Scholar in the Foreign Policy Division of The Brookings Institution in Washington, 1981-83, he served as the Senior Fellow at the University of Arkansas' JW Fulbright Institute of International Relations, 1983-90.
Through the years, Bill has remained an engaged and visible activist in local, state and national issues, once launching a bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives; he continues to explain via news editorials, a national column, and a TV political talk show the wisdom, or weakness, of the prevailing national security policies.
Bill is a man of many facets, including being a husband to Judith, father to Elizabeth and Andrew, author, thinker, tennis player, and forever, a Wildcat.
For his distinguished career in which he continuously sought to make the world a safer and better place, for sharing his insight and knowledge with the next generation of leaders, and for the recognition he has received from his peers, we honor William Jackson, Jr., Class of 1957, with the Distinguished Alumnus Award on the occasion of his 50th Reunion on this 28th day of April, 2007.