Strauss Center, Russian University Announce Innovative Partnership

Oct. 18, 2007

AUSTIN, Texas—The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at The University of Texas at Austin announced today it is forming a groundbreaking partnership with the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), a world-renowned university dedicated to the study of international politics and diplomacy.

The goal of the new partnership is to expand and deepen cooperation, innovation and exchange of ideas in higher education and advanced research on global affairs. The two countries will work together to study global problems, each bringing their unique perspectives to the discussion. The project, "Russia, America and the World," will sponsor collaborative research, faculty and student exchanges, internships, joint conferences and symposia, and a joint Web site.

"Our partnership with MGIMO comes at a critical time when Washington and Moscow disagree on how to address many important issues," Strauss Center Director Dr. James M. Lindsay said. "Working together with MGIMO will sustain an important dialogue and prepare a new generation of emerging leaders to solve the complex global challenges that both countries—and the world—will face in the 21st century."

The Strauss Center 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.

MGIMO is a public university in Moscow, affiliated with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. MGIMO prepares students for careers in international relations and diplomacy. Many high-ranking Russian officials, political leaders, diplomats, scholars, businessmen and journalists are graduates of MGIMO.

The Strauss Center-MGIMO partnership will be formally inaugurated at a conference held at MGIMO in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Oct. 22. The conference, "Russia and the USA - Toward a Sustainable Partnership through Joint Research and Education," will feature discussions by senior American and Russian experts and business leaders on pressing global issues, including energy and the role of business today. U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings will address the conference on international cooperation in education.

At a subsequent reception at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Education Minister Andrei Fursenko will join Secretary Spellings and U.S. Ambassador William Burns in offering remarks in support of the Strauss Center-MGIMO effort.

"Our new partnership with the Strauss Center at The University of Texas gives MGIMO the opportunity to involve some of the foremost American scholars and experts in our educational and research activities," the rector of MGIMO, Anatoly Torkunov, said. "International cooperation is one of the best ways for us to bolster the quality of education and research at MGIMO and in Russia as a whole."

This unique project will be overseen by an advisory board chaired by the leaders of two major Russian and American companies: Vagit Alekperov, president of LUKOIL Company, and James J. Mulva, chairman, president and chief executive officer of ConocoPhillips. LUKOIL and ConocoPhillips have shown the potential benefits of a US-Russian partnership with the success of their joint venture to develop oil and gas resources.

The LUKOIL and ConocoPhillips partnership has provided knowledge exchange between the companies which is progressing rapidly through information exchanges and joint training sessions in the areas of drilling and production; supply chain management; long-term planning; finance and accounting; health, safety and environmental performance; information systems and other disciplines.

The Strauss Center is named after Ambassador Robert S. Strauss. He was an undergraduate at The University of Texas at Austin and earned his law degree at the university 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 Russia before returning to his law practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in 1992.

Strauss founded the U.S.-Russia Business Council (USRBC), a Washington-based trade association that works to enhance the U.S.-Russian commercial relationship. Strauss served as chairman of the USRBC from 1993-2004 and is currently chairman emeritus of the organization.

Learn more about the Strauss Center online and read The University of Texas at Austin feature story—Global Solutions—about the Strass Center.

For more information contact: Jill Angelo, Strauss Center, 512-471-6267.