Skip to main content
Campus Life

Anthony J. Cotton, Military Commander and Alumnus, Will Address 2023 Graduates

General Anthony J. Cotton

NC State will celebrate the class of 2023 during its spring commencement ceremony at PNC Arena on Saturday, May 6 at 9 a.m. Gen. Anthony J. Cotton, the commander at United States Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska and an NC State alumnus, will deliver the commencement address. 

During the ceremony, Chancellor Randy Woodson will confer honorary degrees on Raj Chetty, William A. Ackman Professor of Public Economics at Harvard University and Robert L. Santos, the 26th director of the U.S. Census Bureau. The ceremony will also feature remarks from Kelsey O’Connor, who is graduating with a bachelor of social work and a minor in psychology. 

Cotton’s command includes 150,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Space Force Guardians and civilians who operate globally. The command advises the secretary of defense and the president as necessary. Prior to his current assignment, Cotton served as the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and of Air Forces Strategic-Air, USSTRATCOM, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

Cotton entered the Air Force through the ROTC program and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from NC State in 1986. He has commanded at the squadron, group, wing and major command levels. He also served as the vice commander and commander of the 341st Missile Wing; commander of the 45th Space Wing; director of the Eastern Range, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida; deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office; commander of 20th Air Force; commander and president of Air University; and deputy commander of Air Force Global Strike Command.