University of Texas Announces Opening of Robert S. Strauss Center

(Washington, D.C.) – Renowned lawyer and public servant Ambassador Robert S. Strauss and the firm he founded – 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, the university announced today.

Ambassador Strauss contributed $5 million and Akin Gump contributed $2.5 million to the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law. 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 on September 24 at a press conference hosted by University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr. and Larry Temple, president of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation. Ambassador Strauss and Akin Gump partner James C. Langdon Jr. also participated in the press conference.

“The University of Texas is one of the finest institutions in the world,” Ambassador 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.”

President Powers said that education and research on global affairs are priorities for the university.

“Today, everything we do is affected by what is going on in the world around us,” he 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.’”

The funds will be used to attract top scholars, fund innovative research initiatives, develop outreach programs and provide leadership opportunities for students.

“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,” Mr. 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.”

Ambassador Strauss was born in Lockhart, Texas, in 1918. Raised in the small West Texas town of Stamford, he attended the University of Texas and its law school; after earning his law degree, he served as a special agent of the FBI. In 1945 he entered private law practice and founded the firm that became Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

He served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee between 1973 and 1976 and was subsequently appointed by President Jimmy Carter as the U.S. trade representative and special envoy to the Middle East. Ambassador Strauss was selected by President George H.W. Bush to be U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1991; following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he became the U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation, serving until 1992, when he returned to Akin Gump. He occupied the Lloyd Bentsen Chair at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.  In 1981 Ambassador 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,” Mr. Langdon said. “This Center will be a place where challenges are looked at in-depth and by new voices. Policymakers, business leaders 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, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, a leading international law firm, numbers more than 900 lawyers with offices in Austin, Beijing, Dallas, Dubai, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Taipei and Washington. The firm has a diversified practice and represents regional, national and international clients in a wide range of areas, including antitrust; appellate; banking and finance; capital markets; communications and information technology; corporate and securities; corporate governance; employee benefits; energy; entertainment and media; environmental; financial restructuring; global security; government contracts; health; insurance; intellectual property; international trade; investment funds; labor and employment; land use; litigation; mergers and acquisitions; private client services; private equity; privatization; project development and finance; public law and policy; real estate development and finance; Russia/CIS; tax; and technology.

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