Margaret Scobey 

UT Knoxville, ’71, ’73

Margaret Scobey

Four years ago, when retired U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey spoke at a UT Knoxville commencement ceremony, she said that you can always count on your “Volunteer” friends—no matter where life takes you.

“You’ll also have a friend in the university,” said Scobey, who held diplomatic appointments in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. “No matter where I went in the world—and I went to some pretty remote places—the first piece of mail I ever received inevitably came from the UT Alumni Association. I’ve always thought that, if Osama bin Laden had gone to UT, it would not have taken so many years to find him.”

Jokes aside, Scobey says her time at UT was special.

Her professors “set intellectual standards that I still appreciate and that broadened my ability to think, to analyze, to write,” she says. “I am grateful for that experience.”

Born in Memphis, Scobey began her college career as a political science major but switched to history because she was so impressed with the professor who taught her history of western civilization course.

Scobey worked as the deputy chief of mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from September 2001 to November 2003, before receiving her first appointment as U.S. ambassador to Syria. She served in this position for two years before serving as a political counselor in Baghdad. In February 2008, she was nominated and confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Egypt. During the course of her 32-year foreign service career, she also had assignments in Jerusalem, Kuwait, Pakistan and Peru.

Part of the Tennessee Alumnus100 Distinguished Alumni feature.