Director of Strategic Planning, USCCB, Brig. Gen. Robert Yates to Keynote Walsh Commencement

Director of Strategic Planning for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), retired Brigadier General Robert Yates (USAF) will be the Keynote Speaker for Walsh University’s May 8-9 Commencement Ceremonies.

Walsh University will hold four in-person commencement ceremonies the weekend of May 8-9, honoring the Class of 2021 and Class of 2020 graduates. Rather than one large ceremony, there will be a series of small ceremonies throughout the weekend designed to stay in compliance with all COVID safety protocols as well as adhere to the limited capacity of the Alumni Arena within the Cecchini Health and Wellness Center that was set forth by the health department.  Each ceremony will be live-streamed and available for later viewing at

About Brig. Gen. Robert Yates 

A committed Catholic who has spent his life supporting the Church and its teachings, Brigadier General Robert Yates currently serves as the Director of Strategic Planning of the USCCB since his appointment in 2014. In this role, he oversees the planning and execution of the strategic plan for the Conference. 

Prior to joining the USCCB, Yates enjoyed a distinguished 30-year career with the United States Air Force before his retirement in 2011.

Throughout his more than 30-year military career, he served in multiple Department of Defense staffs with leadership roles including Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.; Assistant Director of Operations for Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia; Deputy Military Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium; and Director for Operations and Logistics at the Joint Forces Command at Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia.

Brig. Gen. Yates completed numerous flying tours and commanded at the flight, squadron, group and wing levels. He served in operational flight and command assignments in operational fighter aircrafts in the USAF including the A-10 “Warthog,” A-7 “Corsair II,” F-117 “Stealth Fighter" or "Night Hawk,” F-16 “Fighting Falcon,” AT-38 “Talon” and C-130 “Hercules.” He commanded numerous Air Force Units culminating in Wing Command of the 27th Fighter Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, and 31st Wing at Aviano Air Base, Aviano, Italy.

During his distinguished military career, Yates earned multiple honors including:

  • Defense Superior Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
  • Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters
  • Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
  • Air Medal
  • Aerial Achievement Medal
  • Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
  • Air Force Achievement Medal

He graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi in 1982 and was commissioned from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1981, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering. 

He is a member of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Woodbridge, VA, where he serves as a lector. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 9259. He is married to the love of his life, Barbara Gail (Cruz) Yates, and together they have raised three children: Robert Jr., Bryan and Brittany. They are the proud grandparents of four grandchildren. Robert and Barbara will celebrate their 40th Wedding Anniversary this December.