By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2010 " MTV`s college network bypassed a plethora of pop, rock and movie stars, and bestowed a top honor on a man they call a true role model ": Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
The mtvU network yesterday named Gates its inaugural 2010 Man of the Year.
College students inherently believe that they have the power and ability to change the system, " Stephen Friedman, general manager of MTV, said yesterday in an mTVU news release. mtvU is proud to honor Secretary Gates because he stood up for what was right, and made historic changes to the system by focusing on the issues at hand rather than partisan rhetoric. "
The network cited Gates for making bold, reasoned " choices on issues such as gender bias, fiscal restraint, military modernization and the so-called Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell " law. Gates has been a long-time proponent of repealing the law, which bars gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. Yesterday, President Barack Obama signed the Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law.
The network praised Gates for keeping the focus on servicemembers even as he dealt with two controversial and difficult " wars.
Although young people are sharply divided on the war, Secretary Gates and this generation are completely aligned in their unwavering support of the troops, " Friedman said.
The network posted an online video yesterday that features Gates speaking on key issues interspersed with praise for the defense secretary`s service to the nation.
Secretary Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal and has twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, " the release said. Now, in 2010, for consistently focusing on solutions for today so they`re not problems for tomorrow, and for rational and reasoned discussion instead of polarizing sound bites -- he can add "mtvU Man of the Year` to his list of accomplishments. "
The network`s Woman of the Year was hip hop artist Nicki Minaj.
The mtvU network is broadcast to more than 750 college campuses and via cable distributors in 700 college communities nationwide, according to its website, and reaches nearly 9 million U.S. college students.