Robert Schwarz Strauss (born October 19, 1918) is a figure in American politics and diplomacy. A Texas political figure, Strauss’s political service dates back to future president Lyndon Johnson’s first congressional campaign in 1937. By the 1950s, he was associated in Texas politics with the conservative faction of the Democratic Party led by Johnson and John Connally. He served as the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee between 1972 and 1977 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 the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1991 and after the USSR's collapse, he served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia from 1991 until 1993. Strauss has advised and represented U.S. presidents over three administrations and for both major U.S. political parties.
An accomplished lawyer, Strauss founded the law firm now known as Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in 1945, which has grown to be one of the largest in the world with offices in 15 cities and employing over 900 lawyers and professionals worldwide. His business activities included serving on the Texas Banking Commission and as Chairman of the U.S.-Russia Business Council. Strauss was inducted into the Academy of Achievement in 2003 and was recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award, on January 16, 1981. He is a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and The Forum for International Policy, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.
Strauss has occupied academic chairs and lecture positions, including one as the Lloyd Bentsen Chair at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas. He is also the namesake of The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at The University of Texas. Additionally, Strauss has an interest in biomedical issues and has endowed two chairs at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas: the Helen and Robert S. Strauss Professorship in Pediatric Neurology and the Helen and Robert S. Strauss Professorship in Urology.