Susan Ford Bales


April 17, 2014 - Harrogate, Tennessee — Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) will welcome Susan Ford Bales, the daughter of President Gerald R. Ford and Mrs. Betty Ford, to deliver the commencement address on Saturday, May 3, at 10 a.m. at Tex Turner Arena.

During the ceremony, LMU will confer approximately 461 total degrees including 154 associate, 186 bachelor’s, 117 master’s and four doctoral degrees. Approximately 451 students are expected to participate in the ceremony. The University will also award several special honors during the ceremony including the Honorary Doctor of Letters to Ford Bales.

Ford Bales is an author, photojournalist and former chair of the Board of Directors of the Betty Ford Center for alcohol and drug abuse. A Virginia native, she was raised in Alexandria, Va., and attended Holton Arms School and Mount Vernon College, where she studied photojournalism. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service degree and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree. Ford Bales is the author of two novels set in the White House, “Double Exposure: A First Daughter Mystery,” and its sequel, “Sharp Focus.”

Ford Bales is the ship’s sponsor for the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, which she officially christened on November 9, 2013. She has served as Trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation since 1981 and currently serves as co-chair of the Foundation’s Programs Committee. Ford Bales’ work with the Foundation is centered on promoting the ideals of public service, integrity and candor that were the hallmarks of her father and his distinguished service as a Naval Officer in World War II, as a member of Congress and as Vice President and the 38th President of the United States.

Ford Bales has also been deeply involved with her mother’s causes. While she was in high school, Ford Bales lived in the White House and served as official White House hostess following Betty Ford’s surgery for breast cancer in 1974. Ten years later, mother and daughter came together to help launch National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and subsequently Ford Bales has served as a national spokesperson for breast cancer awareness. She was elected to the Board of Directors of the Betty Ford Center in 1992 and succeeded her mother, serving as Chairman of the Board from 2005-2010. She has represented the Ford family at numerous public events.

In addition to her many charitable and public service activities, Ford Bales serves on the Advisory Board of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health, Trustee of the Elizabeth B. Ford Charitable Trust, Trustee of the President Gerald R. Ford Historical Legacy Trust, the Executive Board of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Foundation and the board of directors of Bosque School in New Mexico.

Ford Bales resides with her husband, Vaden Bales, in Tulsa, Okla. She is the mother of two daughters, Tyne Berlanga and Heather Deavers, and has three grandchildren. She is also step-mother to Kevin, Matthew and Andrew Bales.

About Lincoln Memorial University
Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or e-mail at

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