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Charles Swindells ’64 named ambassador

October 08, 2001

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    Secretary of State Colin Powell greets Ambassador Charles J. (Butch) Swindells '64.

President George W. Bush has appointed and the U.S. Senate has confirmed Charles J. (Butch) Swindells ’64 as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. His nomination had the strong support of both of Oregon’s senators, Republican Gordon Smith and Democrat Ron Wyden.

A Lewis & Clark trustee for 16 years, Swindells served as board chair from 1998 until May 2001. He also cochaired the College’s successful campaign, which raised $76.5 million ending in June 1997. He has chaired the Aubrey R. Watzek Awards jury for the past five years.

Swindells received an honorary doctorate of laws at the College commencement in May. To thank Swindells for his outstanding volunteer service to his alma mater, the College will present him with the Donald G. Balmer Citation for outstanding volunteer service to the College at the Alumni Honors Banquet on Nov. 7.

“Butch has served not only Lewis & Clark but numerous other nonprofit organizations with distinction and enthusiasm and has helped make Oregon a better place to live,” says Lewis & Clark President Michael Mooney. “I am particularly pleased that he will continue to serve the College as a trustee. Lewis & Clark is proud to count him as an alumnus and wishes him well as ambassador.”

“I have had the privilege of knowing Butch Swindells for many years,” said Senator Smith. “I am confident that he will be an exemplary advocate for our nation’s interests in New Zealand, Samoa and the entire Southeast Asian region.”

“Butch Swindells is a consensus builder, somebody who brings people together,” Senator Wyden said. “As ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, Butch will be a thoughtful and pragmatic voice on major issues such as free trade. And he will be an exemplary representative of the United States of America.”

“Relations between the United States and New Zealand have been very positive,” Swindells states. “I want to optimize opportunities for trade between the two nations. I also look forward to working with the New Zealand government on regional security issues.”

As the personal representative of the president of the United States, Swindells will promote U.S. trade and will articulate U.S. policies. He will be involved with all aspects of national defense and national security issues that affect the area, including intelligence gathering.

In addition to carrying responsibility for all U.S. citizens who travel and work in New Zealand and Samoa, Swindells will encourage cultural exchanges, will help select Fulbright scholars from New Zealand to study in the United States and will oversee the National Science Foundation’s research activities in the Antarctic.

Swindells has spent the past several months meeting with State Department personnel in Washington, D.C.

“I could not find a better time to join the State Department,” he comments. “I found a palpable energy and an entrepreneurial spirit under the leadership of Secretary of State Colin Powell and among the people surrounding him. I’ve been impressed with everyone with whom I’ve worked. The level of professionalism parallels that of the corporate world.”

Swindells credits political science courses with Don Balmer, U. G. Dubach Professor Emeritus of Political Science, and John (Jack) Crampton, professor emeritus of political science, for sparking his dual interests in law and foreign service.

“I was intrigued with the broad scope and global perspective of their courses,” he says.

Swindells studied law at Willamette University for two years and then moved into the world of finance and investment. He was only 26 years old when he cofounded a registered investment firm with more than $700 million under full discretionary management. In 1981, Swindells cofounded Capital Trust Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Capital Consultants, as a nondeposit trust institution. He and Ralph Rittenour, Jr., the two principals of Capital Trust, along with an outside investor, purchased Capital Trust from Capital Consultants in 1985, and Capital Trust became an independent, privately held trust company.

Then, in 1993, Swindells took the small, successful, regional Capital Trust and brokered a strategy to merge it into the powerful United States Trust Co. of New York, the oldest trust company in the nation, to create U.S. Trust Co. of the Pacific Northwest.

“I now have the opportunity to come full circle and to pursue foreign service,” Swindells says. “That’s the beauty of a liberal arts education. When you have the opportunity to develop a broad perspective, you can pursue and become engaged in any number of disciplines—business, finance, law, science, art—and foreign service.”

“Anytime I can assist Lewis & Clark students or alumni in New Zealand, I will not hesitate to do so,” he adds.

Swindells expects to assume his post in Wellington in mid-October.

After he completes his international service, Swindells intends to return to Portland and U.S. Trust.

“My wife, Caroline, and I look forward to coming back to Portland and to using our experience in international trade, business, finance, human rights and security to, once again, immerse ourselves in the community.”

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