Eric Greitens

Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco will award Eric Greitens an honorary degree during the University's 156th Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 20, 2012.

Photo by Emily Zilm, Tufts Photo

Eric Greitens:  You are a decorated citizen soldier, distinguished humanitarian, author, scholar, and teacher.  As a Rhodes and TrumanScholar at Oxford University, your doctoral research examined how international humanitarian organizations could best serve children affected by war.  You served our nation with distinction and valor for a decade as a Navy SEAL, deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia.  Having demonstrated leadership under arms, on your return from duty you continued to exemplify the noblest values of public service.  You donated your combat pay to found The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that enables wounded and disabled veterans to rebuild their lives as civic leaders and volunteers.  Your talents as a writer and photographer shine through award-winning books in which you have helped renew the human spirit for countless readers.  Your life embodies the rare combination of compassion and courage, and the breadth and depth of your accomplishments are remarkable for one still young.  For your valorous service to the nation, and your creative and dedicated efforts as a social entrepreneur, Tufts University is honored to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.


Scholar, athlete, author, humanitarian, and Navy SEAL, ERIC GREITENS has hewed to a life of leadershipwith a moral compass.Passion, intelligence, and valor have been the hallmarks of that journey.

Missouri-born and raised, Greitens was educated in public schools before entering Duke University, where he studied ethics, philosophy, and public policy as an Angier B. Duke Scholar. He was selected as a Rhodes and Truman Scholar and attended the University of Oxford from 1996 through 2000, earning master’s and doctoral degrees. His Ph.D. dissertation examined how international humanitarian organizations can best serve children affected by war. Greitens continues to study and teach public service as a senior fellow at the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri and in the M.B.A. program at the Olin School of Business at Washington University.

Greitens has traveled to troubled regions of the world as a volunteer, documentary photographer, and researcher, including visits to Rwanda, Cambodia, Albania, Mexico, India, Croatia, and Bolivia. His award-winning book of photographs and inspirational essays, Strength and Compassion, grew from this humanitarian work. Among other accolades, the book has been recognized as ForeWord magazine’s Photography Book of the Year and was the grand prize winner of the 2009 New York Book Festival. Greitens’s second book, The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, became a New York Times bestseller in May 2011. The book shares the principal lesson Greitens learned through his background in military service and humanitarian work: in order to create meaningful change, one must be both good and strong.

Military service was formative for Greitens. Since being selected for the elite U.S. Navy SEALs program at age 26, he served as a SEAL officer during deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia. He commanded a Joint Special Operations Task Unit, a Mark V Special Operations Craft Detachment, and an al Qaeda Targeting Cell. In 2011, the Association of the U.S. Navy named Greitens its Naval Reserve Junior Officer of the Year. The military honored his service with the Navy Achievement Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star.

An accomplished athlete, Greitens is a sub-three-hour marathon runner and a winner of Shamrock Marathon at Camp Fallujah, Iraq. A boxer, he won two Oxford University Boxing Blues and the gold medal at the British Universities Sports Association’s National Boxing Championships.

In 2005, the President named Greitens a White House Fellow, a nonpartisan appointment that is considered America’s most prestigious fellowship for leadership and public service. He developed a program that employed engineering and architecture students to help rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

After returning from Iraq, Greitens donated his combat pay to found The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that works with wounded and disabled veterans to help them build new lives as civic leaders here at home. From May 2007 to May 2009, he contributed more than 2,750 volunteer hours as chair and CEO of the organization. Greitens was personally presented with the President’s Volunteer Service Award in recognition of his exemplary leadership in meeting the needs of veterans.

Greitens has been widely praised for his sustained commitment to The Mission Continues. The Draper Richards Foundation named him one of America’s most innovative leaders in 2009, and the Manhattan Institute subsequently honored him as one of the nation’s five leading social entrepreneurs. Last year, the Social Venture Network recognized Greitens and The Mission Continues for its significant social impact.

Greitens will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.