In 1989, the first President Bush's national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, helped convince Rice to leave Stanford and work for him in Washington. She quickly became one of Bush's most trusted advisers. From 1989 through March 1991, the period of German reunification and the final days of the Soviet Union, she served in the first Bush administration as director and then senior director of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and a special assistant to the president for national security affairs.
Rice's nomination comes just one day after the White House announced Powell had submitted his resignation.
The retired four-star general was known for his moderate views and for reportedly clashing with members of the administration on the issue of Iraq. Even so, it was Powell who went before the United Nations in February 2003 to make a case for the U.S.-led invasion.
Some conservatives, who saw Powell as too moderate for the president's foreign policies, saw this as a positive move.
"The president may for the first time in his presidency have someone at the helm of the State Department who actively and consistently supports his policy," said Frank J. Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy.
Powell's deputy, Richard Armitage, also announced today he was stepping down.
The man replacing Rice, Stephen Hadley, has been assistant to the president and the national security adviser since January 2001.
A lawyer, Hadley is a long-time adviser to Bush. During his first presidential campaign, he served as a senior foreign and defense policy adviser.
He worked as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy from 1989 to 1993 and has held numerous other political and civilian posts over the years.