MEDIA CONTACT: Polly Burks
FAU History Graduate Appointed U.S. Ambassador
BOCA RATON, FL (November 1, 2010) – FAU graduate Robert M. (Skipp) Orr was recently sworn in as U.S. Executive Director to the Asian Development Bank, with the rank of ambassador. Orr was selected by President Obama for this position earlier this year and later confirmed by the Senate. Orr graduated with a B.A. in History, cum laude, from Florida Atlantic University in 1976.
“The history department at FAU was the foundation of my education at the upper level,” said Orr. “The fact that I have been appointed by the president of the United States to this position has less to do with me than with the value of studying history, which is, in my opinion, the best undergraduate degree one should seek. I want to have my appointment noted less for me than for the value of studying history. A history major is so expansive.”
From 2007-2010, Orr was chairman of the Board of the Panasonic Foundation and concurrently vice chair of the National Association of Japan-America Societies, a member of the Board of Trustees of J.F. Obirin University and a member of the Board of the East-West Center Foundation. From January 2002 until March 2007, Orr was president of Boeing Japan.
He held this position during the development of the most successfully selling airplane in history, the 787 Dreamliner, 35 percent of which is made in Japan. Prior to joining Boeing, Orr was vice president and director of European affairs for Motorola based in Brussels. And previous to this, he held various senior level posts with Motorola in Japan, culminating as Vice President of Government Relations. In that capacity, he successfully led the negotiations that opened up the cellular phone market in Japan.
In addition to the corporate world, Orr also has spent many years in academia and the U. S. government. Between 1985 and 1993, he was a professor of political science at Temple University in Japan with two years off to run the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies and the Stanford Center for Technology and Innovation at the Stanford Japan Center in Kyoto. His book The Emergence of Japan’s Foreign Aid Power, published by Columbia University Press, won the 1991 Ohira Prize for best book on the Asia Pacific.
Orr’s career began in 1976 when he served for two years as legislative assistant to Congressman Paul G. Rogers (D-FL), a 12 term member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Between 1978 and 1981, he served on the House Foreign Affairs Asia Subcommittee staff seconded from the Select Committee on Narcotics. In 1981, Orr was appointed as special assistant to the Assistant Administrator of Asia in the U.S. Agency for International Development in the Department of State.
Orr holds a B.A. in History, cum laude, from FAU, an M.A. in government from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in political science from Tokyo University. He speaks German and Japanese fluently, and has intermediate French.
Orr’s wife, Mitsuko, of 34 years and he, along with their Golden Retriever, Marina, reside in Manila, Philippines, headquarters of the ADB, and maintain residences in Kamakura, Japan and at their other home near Pau in Southwestern France.
For more information about the department of history at FAU, call 561-297-3840.
About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit www.fau.edu .