March 28, 2014
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Donald Phinney Gregg was raised in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY and graduated from Hastings High School in 1945. After serving in the United States Army from 1945 to 1947, he earned a BA (cum laude) in philosophy from Williams College in 1951.
Gregg joined the Central Intelligence Agency immediately after graduation and over the next quarter century was assigned to Japan, Burma, Vietnam and Korea. He was special assistant to the U.S. Ambassador in Korea from 1973 to 1975, and was decorated by the Korean government in 1975.
Gregg was seconded to the National Security Council staff at the White House in 1979, where he was in charge of intelligence activities and was subsequently given responsibility for Asian policy affairs. In August 1982, he was asked by then Vice President George H. W. Bush to become his National Security Advisor, supporting the Vice President in the areas of foreign policy, defense and intelligence. He then retired from the CIA, and was awarded the CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence Medal. During his service with Vice President Bush, Gregg traveled to 65 countries including Korea. From 1980 to 1989, Gregg also served as a professorial lecturer at Georgetown University, where he taught a graduate-level workshop entitled “Force and Diplomacy” to students in the Master of Science in Foreign Service program.
From September 1989 to 1993, Gregg served as the U.S. Ambassador to Korea. While ambassador, his efforts were directed toward helping the U.S.-Korea relationship mature from a military alliance into an economic and political partnership. Gregg was also active in support of U.S.-Korea business activities.
Prior to his departure from Korea on February 28, 1993, Gregg received an honorary Ph.D. in international relations from Sogang University.
In March 1993, Gregg retired from a 43-year career in the United States government to become the president and chairman of The Korea Society, positions he held until 2009. In May 1996, Gregg received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vermont. Other recent honors include the Kellogg Award for career achievement from Williams College (2001), the Bartels World Affairs Fellowship from Cornell University (2004), the Philip Jaisohn Award (Philadelphia, 2005), a Distinguished Service Award from The American Committees on Foreign Relations (2006). In October 2009, the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, established the Donald P. and Margaret Curry Gregg Professorship in Korean studies. In May, 2010, Gregg received an honorary degree from Colorado College. In February 2012, he became chairman of the Pacific Century Institute in Los Angeles.
Gregg remains strongly interested in establishing normal relations with North Korea, a country he has visited five times. The Pacific Century Institute actively supports unofficial meetings between Americans with significant experience in Korea with North Korean officials.