Man who broke 9/11 news to president to speak at Auburn University

Published: February 26, 2018
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Andrew Card has referred to the moment as the one that crystalized for his boss "the great burden of being president."

Shortly after 9:10 a.m. on September 11, 2001, Card approached President George W. Bush as he participated in a reading program for second grade students at a school in Sarasota, Fla. Card leaned in close and whispered into the president’s ear: "A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack."

Card, who served as White House chief of staff from 2001 to 2006, will discuss leadership during an open campus lecture hosted by the Harbert College of Business on Wednesday, March 7. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Foy Hall auditorium.

"We are pleased to introduce Mr. Card with Auburn University students, faculty, staff and members of the campus community," said Harbert College Interim Dean Joe Hanna. "His experience as White House chief of staff, a cabinet member, a state representative, an executive in the automotive industry and a university administrator enables him to connect with a varied audience on such topics as organizational leadership, personnel management, crisis management and policymaking."

Under President George W. Bush, Card was the second longest-tenured White House chief of staff. In that capacity, Card coordinated the administration’s agenda, as well as the development of policies and the appointments of cabinet secretaries and senior officials. In the wake of 9/11, he led a government-wide reorganization aimed at allocating resources to deal with the aftermath and the new threats posed by terrorism.

He served as deputy chief of staff for President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1992 and was the 11th U.S. secretary of transportation. In August 1992, Card coordinated the Bush administration’s disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Andrew.

Before becoming White House chief of staff, Card served as vice president of government relations for General Motors Corporation. In this capacity, he directed the company’s international, national, state and local governmental affairs activities and represented the company before the U.S. Congress and White House. He served as president and CEO of the American Automobile Manufacturers Association from 1993 to 1998.

Card’s political career began with service in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1975 to 1983. His first West Wing role was as special assistant to President Reagan for intergovernmental affairs from 1983 to 1987. He eventually served as deputy assistant to the president and as director of intergovernmental affairs, a post that empowered him to serve as a liaison to governors, statewide elected officials, legislators and mayors.

A native of Holbrook, Massachusetts, Card has also served administrative roles in higher education—including a stint as acting dean of The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 2011 to 2013 and executive director of the Office of the Provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas A&M from 2013 to 2014. He also served as president of Franklin Pierce University from January 2015 through July 2016.

Card serves on the board of directors for Union Pacific, on the business advisory board for BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics and on the non-publicly traded boards for Energy Security Partners and Go Electric. He has also served as a contributor for NBC News.

An engineering graduate of the University of South Carolina, Card also attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1965 to 1967.