Robert Orr to be Honored by Gardner Fellowship Program

Robert Orr
October 15, 2015

Robert C. Orr, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, United Nations under secretary-general, and special advisor to the UN secretary-general on climate change, will receive the inaugural Outstanding Mentor Award from the John Gardner Public Service Fellowship Program, the joint Berkeley-Stanford program announced today.

The University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University jointly established the John Gardner Fellowship Program in 1985 to encourage outstanding Stanford and UC Berkeley graduates to invest their talent, energy and training in public service. Six fellows, three from Stanford and three from UC Berkeley, are selected each spring to serve with a distinguished leader in their field for 10 months after graduation. Each fellow is matched with a mentor who is a distinguished leader at the placement organization and agrees to guide the fellow's professional growth and development.

Orr was appointed dean at Maryland last year after serving for a decade as assistant secretary-general for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning at the U.N. He has mentored four Gardner Fellows, providing the Berkeley and Stanford graduates with professional guidance and intellectual nurturing during their fellowships.

"John Gardner was a giant in public service who mentored generations of leaders in American public life,” Orr said. “I am deeply honored to receive this award in his name."

The award will be presented at the Gardner Fellowship’s 30th anniversary dinner, which will be held at the UC-Berkeley Faculty Club on Saturday, October 17.

“Mentors are critical to the success of the Gardner Fellowship,” said Terri Bimes, director of the Berkeley portion of the program. “The promising young public servants who are Gardner Fellows benefit immeasurably from the guidance of senior leaders who work with them every day.”

In his role at the United Nations, Orr served as the principal advisor to the secretary-general on counter-terrorism, peace-building, women’s and children’s health, sustainable energy, food and nutrition, institutional innovation, public-private partnerships and climate change.

He joined the United Nations from Harvard University, where he served as the executive director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government. Prior to his service at Harvard, he served as director of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.

Orr has also served in senior posts in the U.S. government, including deputy to the United States ambassador to the United Nations, director of the U.S.U.N. office, and director of Global and Multilateral Affairs at the National Security Council. Orr received his Ph.D. and M.P.A. in International Relations from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

“Robert Orr is an extraordinary global leader, but he has taken the time to serve as a mentor for Gardner Fellows, helping to propel them on a path to a career in public service,” said Leslie Saul Garvin, director of the Stanford portion of the program.

Orr’s role as a mentor has spanned decades, including to Grant Harris in 1999, Michael Harrison Jones in 2005, Cammie Lee in 2007, and Yassamin Ansari in 2014.

Harris noted, "Dr. Orr's deep commitment to mentorship has benefited many, myself included, and it is only fitting that he will receive the Outstanding Mentor Award.  His brilliance, kindness and commitment to public service have inspired me and many other Gardner Fellows."

The program honors John Gardner (1912-2002) and his remarkable contributions to the public sector. An alumnus of Berkeley and Stanford, Gardner was a distinguished public servant and social innovator. He served six U.S. presidents, including as secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under Lyndon Johnson. He chaired the National Urban Coalition and founded the White House Fellowship Program, Common Cause, and Independent Sector and served as an advisor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Scientific Advisory Board of the Air Force, the Enterprise Foundation, Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University, and the Institute of Governmental Studies at Berkeley.  

Gardner’s tireless dedication to public service earned him numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian award. Throughout his lifetime, he encouraged young people to pursue leadership roles in public service, “to learn habits of commitment to public purpose that will serve this nation well in the years ahead.” The Gardner Fellowship Program is an important piece of Gardner’s vast legacy that encourages and nurtures informed civic involvement and service, particularly among outstanding young people.