Watch William Wood '72 explain how his Bucknell experience influenced his career path.

U.S. Ambassador William Wood ’72 enlightened students, faculty, staff and community members on the meaning of democracy during a two-day campus visit in January. To a packed room in the Gallery Theatre, he explored issues concerning diplomacy and foreign relations in the world today, drawing insights from his tours of duty as ambassador to Afghanistan, 2007-09 and Colombia, 2003-07. “One of the things about diplomacy is it sells the national product, and you need to have a product to sell,” he said. “It’s not foreign policy. Diplomacy sells the foreign policy.”

“The goal of diplomacy, whether you’re using carrots or sticks, is to get the foreigner to agree to give us what we want,” he added. “That contrasts with the paradigm of the military, which is to physically compel them to give us what we want.”

During his visit Wood also met with students to talk about the nature of diplomacy, the ups and downs of the State Department, and how he made the journey from the liberal arts to foreign service. Wood, a philosophy major, mentioned two professors who helped prepare a foundation for that journey, Jack Wheatcroft ’49, English, and Joe Fell, philosophy.

Wood, who lives in Washington, D.C., left the foreign service two years ago at the mandatory retirement age of 65. “I’m adjusting to gross idleness very well,” he said with a chuckle.