The University of Texas at Austin Announces $7.5 Million Gift to Open Center on Global Affairs

Sept. 24, 2007

AUSTIN, Texas—Renowned lawyer and public servant Ambassador Robert S. Strauss and the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP have contributed $7.5 million to The University of Texas at Austin to establish a new research center on global affairs.

William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin, with Ambassador Robert S. Strauss
William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin, with Ambassador Robert S. Strauss at the announcement of the $7.5 million gift to open the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law.

The Center is named The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law. Strauss gave $5 million, and Akin Gump contributed $2.5 million. These are the first gifts in a $25 million capital campaign to fund the Center.

The Center was founded to provide the imagination, leadership and intellectual innovation required to help meet the challenges of the 21st century. It is designed to be a new kind of institution, one that works to engage the best minds in academia, government and the private sector in developing practical solutions to the pressing problems of an increasingly globalized world. The Center seeks the widest possible audience, enriching the public debate and giving guidance to decision-makers on how to respond to dangers and opportunities in global affairs.

The gifts creating the Center were announced today (Sept. 24) at a news conference hosted by University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr., and Larry Temple, president of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation. Strauss and Jim Langdon, a partner with Akin Gump, also participated in the press conference.

“The University of Texas is one of the finest institutions in the world,” Strauss said. “By engaging top scholars and collaborating closely with practitioners in government, business and the nonprofit world, the university can make a substantial contribution to the debate on world issues.”

Powers said education and research on global affairs is a priority for the university.

“Today, everything we do is affected by what is going on in the world around us,” Powers said. “To be a great university, The University of Texas at Austin must have a global impact. This Center builds upon many of the top academic programs at the university that are central to understanding the complex world we live in.

“This generous gift from Bob Strauss and Akin Gump will benefit generations of faculty and students by developing a premier institution that lives up to our university’s motto, ‘What Starts Here Changes the World.’”

Renowned lawyer and public servant Ambassador Robert S. Strauss
Renowned lawyer and public servant Ambassador Robert S. Strauss was an undergraduate at The University of Texas at Austin and earned his law degree here in 1941.

Temple announced the $25 million capital campaign. The funds will be used to attract top scholars, fund innovative research initiatives, develop outreach programs and provide leadership opportunities for students. Temple said the size of the capital campaign demonstrates the excitement the Center has generated.

“The Strauss Center is a remarkable initiative by a man who had an unparalleled career in public and private arenas with an enduring legacy of success in both,” Temple said. “The marks of accomplishment—practical solutions to real problems—he has left in a career that continues even today are indelible. Since Bob’s career spans government, the business and professional worlds, and academia, his is the most appropriate name to adorn this new Center. His career symbolizes the aspirations and potential of the Center.”

Strauss, who was born in Lockhart, Texas, turns 89 in October. He was an undergraduate at UT and earned his law degree here in 1941. Strauss was the chairman of the Democratic National Committee between 1973 and 1976 and served under President Jimmy Carter as the U.S. trade representative and special envoy to the Middle East. Strauss was selected by President George H.W. Bush to be U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Strauss became the U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation. Strauss retired from the Foreign Service in 1992 and returned to his law practice at Akin Gump. Strauss occupied the Lloyd Bentsen Chair at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.

In 1981, Strauss was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

The commitment to engaging government, business and nonprofits in discussions and research on globalization is what sets the Strauss Center apart.

“Globalization has made it imperative for members of the business community and policy field to understand one another’s perspective,” Langdon said. “This Center will be a place where challenges are looked at in-depth and by new voices. Policymakers, business and civic leaders can learn from universities, and in turn, universities can learn from practitioners who are on the front lines of these issues every day.”

The Center covers the full range of global issues while emphasizing four key areas that leverage the university’s specific strengths: America’s role in the world, technology, energy and the environment, and global governance.

Founded in 1945 by Strauss and Richard Gump, Akin Gump is a leading global law firm with offices in 15 cities and more than 950 attorneys and advisers worldwide. The firm has a diversified practice and represents regional, national and international clients in a wide range of areas.

For more information contact: Jill Angelo, associate director, Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, 512-471-8936.