U.S. Naval Academy DISTINGUISHED GRADUATES
The Distinguished Graduate Award was established in 1998 to honor graduates who have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to service, personal character and distinguished contributions to our nation.
The Distinguished Graduate Award (DGA) is given annually to a graduate of the United States Naval Academy nominated by a member of the Association and selected by the DGA Selection Panel.
The recipient will receive a medal and is expected to attend the DGA Ceremony.
A Distinguished Graduate must be a living graduate of the United States Naval Academy who has made a distinctive contribution to his or her field or community such as military service, government service, business, education, science, technology, medicine, sports, philanthropic works, humanitarian works, contributions in the arts, or to society at large with a discernible embodiment of the Naval Academy mission.
That mission is "To develop midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government."
As the Naval Academy is and will remain an institution that graduates leaders of character and accountability, the DGA Selection Panel will strive to select graduates who have demonstrated the utmost integrity in their chosen fields.
In addition, nominees should be able to demonstrate a lifetime of active support for the Naval Academy through volunteer activities and active engagements with the Naval Academy, Naval Academy Alumni Association, or Naval Academy Foundation in support of the Academy mission.
ADMIRAL JOSEPH PAUL REASON ’65, USN (RET.)
Paul came to the Naval Academy from nearby Washington, DC, the son of a Howard University professor and high school science teacher, after spending his freshman year at Swarthmore, sophomore at Lincoln and junior at Howard University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science and married his wife, Dianne Fowler, in the Chapel three days after.
He set his sights on the nuclear propulsion program for surface ships. Even after his initial contentious meeting with Vice Admiral Rickover ’22 in 1964,the next day, he found his name ranked third on the list of those accepted. Southeast Asia was his first deployment onboard the newly commissioned TRUXTUN (DLGN 35). After earning a Master of Science in 1970 at the Naval Postgraduate School,he returned to the region again in 1971 on ENTERPRISE.
In 1976, he was assigned to the White House as the naval aide to the President, having been selected by Jimmy Carter ’47. The sea called himback in 1979, serving as executive officer of MISSISSIPPI (CGN 40), commanding officer of COONTZ (DDG 40) then commanding officer of the nuclear powered guided missile cruiser BAINBRIDGE. From 1986-88 as a brand new rear admiral and first flag officer in his class, Reason was commander of Naval Base Seattle, responsible for all naval activities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska, then commanded Cruiser-Destroyer Group One, while concurrently leading Battle Group Romeo to and from the Persian Gulf. In 1991, he received his third star and assumed command of the Naval Surface Force of the U.S. 11 Atlantic Fleet.
After a tour as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Plans, Policy and Operations, he became the first African-American 4-star admiral in 1996, and assumed command of the Atlantic Fleet, about half of the Navy. After his retirement in 1999, Reason served as president, then vice-chairman of Metro Machine Corp. for six years. Formerly he served as a director of Wal-Mart and chaired the board at the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation. Currently he is a director at Amgen, Norfolk Southern and Todd Shipyards. In addition, he chairs the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Foundation and serves on the Naval Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences.
Mr. David Robinson ‘87
When David Robinson entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983, no one would have guessed that he’d be one of the top 50 NBA players of all time and the philanthropic community supporter he has become. Graduating with the Class of 1987, six inches taller than he was on I-Day, he led Navy basketball to 82 wins in three years. Even though he was the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 1987, Robinson delayed his professional basketball career to serve his country. He spent two years on active duty in the Civil Engineering Corp at Kings Bay Submarine Base as Assistant Resident Officer-in-Charge of Construction. Robinson spent six years in the Navy Reserve working in the Navy Public Works Department in Washington, DC, including time as a spokesman for Navy recruiting and anti-drug campaigns.
Robinson moved to San Antonio, TX, to play with the Spurs for his full 14-year NBA career. He became an NBA All-Star, an MVP, NBA Champion, Olympic medalist and more. To date, Robinson is the only player from Navy to play in the NBA. Since arriving in San Antonio, Robinson has offered college scholarships to underprivileged students and, with his wife, awards grants to children’s causes through the David Robinson Foundation.
The Robinsons started and support The Carver Academy, a school for underprivileged students. His equity firm, Admiral Capital Group, co-founded with Daniel Bassichis in 2007, benefits the communities in which it invests. He assists other professional athletes with philanthropic endeavors. Robinson has served on several boards, including the Naval Academy Foundation,USAA Federal Savings Bank and Centerplate.
Among Robinson’s many honors are the National Civil Rights Museum’s Sports Legacy Award, the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, The Mannie Jackson—Basketball’s Human Spirit Award and membership in the Basketball Hall of Fame.He participates in the NBA’s annual Hoops for Troops program and accompanied then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen ’68, USN (Ret.), a 2014 Distinguished Graduate, on a USO tour in Afghanistan. David Robinson lives with his wife, Valerie, in San Antonio, TX.