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The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs is deeply saddened by the passing of former Dean Elspeth Davies Rostow, Sunday, December 9, 2007.
"Elspeth Rostow, more than any single person, embodied all of the values and principles of public service, penetrating analysis and love of teaching that we all cherish about the LBJ School," said Dean James Steinberg. "Words cannot capture what she has meant to us all, for generations of colleagues and students. Our deepest sympathy goes out to her family and friends along with our gratitude for all that she gave over an extraordinary life."
An internationally recognized expert on national politics and U.S foreign policy, Rostow served as Dean of the LBJ School from 1977 to 1983. Prior to that she served as Dean of the UT Austin Division of General and Comparative Studies. She taught at Barnard, Sarah Lawrence, MIT, Georgetown, American University, and the University of Cambridge. Rostow who most recently served as Stiles Professor Emerita in American Studies and Professor of Government at the LBJ School, taught courses on the American Presidency and U.S. foreign policy.
"It is now 36 years and nine months since, with my family, I came from Washington to Austin. It has been a wonderful period for me not only because of the fact that Iíve been in this university and watched it change and grow, but because it has given me a chance to live up to the very wise words of the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard when he said, ďYou live life looking forward. You understand life looking backward.Ē These 36 years have given me a chance to see what a university can be.
I am a child of academe. I was brought up in the atmosphere of Columbia University, and Iíve been teaching now since the day that World War II began. There is no connection between those two facts. But coming to Texas has been the experience that I did not anticipate. I knew that I loved teaching. I knew that I enjoyed being on the campus, but I didnít realize that to be in the University with such a dynamism, with such a capacity to grow and to change, was an experience that I will treasure and that I will share not indefinitely. I think itís about time to stop teaching, but as some of you know, I find it addictive. At this stage, I have a graduate class of about 31. Six of them are lieutenant colonels in the Army; the rest are civilians. But to watch them study national and international policy is a privilege, because thatís what teaching is ó itís a privilege to share with your students, with your colleagues, with your community whatever it is that you have observed over the passage of time.
Benjamin Disraeli said that a university should be a place of light, of liberty, and of learning. He can be forgiven for not putting in ďand football.Ē But this experience of watching light, learning, and the experience of sharing with you, the graduates, of this great university has been something for which I am eternally grateful. And this day, this opportunity to thank The University of Texas, is something I looked forward to, as it turns out now, for these past 30 years. I thank you, I thank the University, and I am convinced now, as a historian, that I watch a work in progress, and the progress is great. A work in progress, and the goal of excellence is within reach. An experience that very few people are privileged to have. And so I turn not to these distinguished graduates alone, but to all of you, and say, thank you very much."
- The Texas Exes Association's Distinguished Service Award Ceremony - October 14, 2005
Dean Rostow served as a member of the President's Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and the President's Commission for a National Agenda for the Eighties. In 1987, President Reagan appointed her to the Board of the United States Institute of Peace, which she later chaired. Dean Rostow was a Trustee of the Southern Center for International Studies (Atlanta) and a former member of the Board of Advisors to the President of the Naval War College (Newport). She also served as Trustee of the National Academy of Public Administration. In 1983-84 she lectured in thirty-four countries under the auspices of the Fulbright Program and the U.S. Information Agency. For five years she was an editorial columnist for the Austin American-Statesman. In 1991 she cofounded The Austin Project, a comprehensive investment program in children and young people.
A memorial service for Dean Rostow was held on Friday, December 14, 2007 at the Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home. The same day the Texas flag was flown at half-staff on campus in her honor.
Dean Rostow's family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her name to The Austin Project, a nonprofit, human services agency founded by her and her husband Walt in 1992 as a catalyst for social initiatives to improve the lives of children and families. Donations can be made to The Austin Project, 5221 Ledesma, Austin, Texas 78721 or via the organization's web site, www.theaustinproject.org.
The LBJ School of Public Affairs along with the LBJ Library and Museum will hold a special event in January '08 after classes resume to celebrate and commemorate former Dean Rostow's lifelong commitment to education and public service.
Humanities Texas - From the Director
Austin American Statesman - Former UT dean, presidential counselor dies
Washington Post - Elspeth Davies Rostow, 90; Presidential Adviser
Washington Times - Elspeth Rostow, 90, presidential adviser
Los Angeles Times - Dean of LBJ School advised two presidents
Dallas Morning News - Elspeth Rostow: UT dean, adviser to presidents
United States Institute of Peace - In Memoriam: Elspeth Rostow
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