Campus & Community

Former U.S. ambassador, alumnus to lecture at PBSC Oct. 10

Robert M. "Skipp" Orr, Ph.D.
Robert M. “Skipp” Orr, Ph.D., former U.S. ambassador and PBSC alumnus

U.S. presidential elections will be the topic when former U.S. ambassador and Palm Beach State College alumnus Robert M. “Skipp” Orr, Ph.D., kicks off the 2018-19 Honors College Speaker Series on Wednesday, Oct. 10. Orr’s lecture, titled “Course Change: Seven U.S. Presidential Elections that Changed History,” will be held at 2 p.m. in the Public Safety Conference Center, PSD 108, on the Lake Worth campus. The free event is open to the public, as well as PBSC students, faculty and staff. All attendees are asked to RSVP at

Orr served as U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank from 2010 to 2016 and was President Barack Obama’s longest-serving appointed ambassador in one post. He was unanimously elected dean of the ADB’s board of directors in 2013, the first American chosen for the position.

“We are very excited to have Ambassador Orr speak to our College community and the community at large,” said Roger Yohe, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs. “As the mid-term elections approach and with 2020 around the corner, we look forward to hearing the insights and ideas of an alumnus of such caliber, who has played an important role serving this country. I can’t think of a better way to enlighten our students and motivate critical thinking about our democracy.”

Orr, who graduated from Atlantic High School in Delray Beach, is back in the area this fall as a distinguished visiting professor at Florida Atlantic University, where he earned his B.A. in history after graduating from PBSC, then Palm Beach Junior College, with an A.A. degree in 1974.

“The first time I was ever exposed to this topic [presidential elections] was in a course that I took 43 years ago as an undergraduate student. It stimulated a lifelong interest in presidents,” said Orr, who has taught the subject at the university level and has met or known various presidents since Gerald Ford. “I hope the audience comes away with a deeper historical perspective on how our democratic institutions have worked, and how, even in bad times, these institutions have survived.”

Orr has held professorships at Stanford and Temple universities and was president of Boeing Japan, among a range of senior-level posts in a career spanning government, business and academia. Orr earned his master’s degree in government from Georgetown University and a doctorate in political science from Tokyo University. 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 region. For more information about Orr’s career, read his bio or the feature article about him in PBSC’s Contact magazine.

Orr’s lecture is sponsored by the Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College. The Honors College requires a 3.5 GPA or higher to enroll, as well as a commitment to community service.

“We want our students to be leaders,” said Marcella Montesinos, Honors College manager. “It’s not just about having the best grades. It’s about being an all-around student who serves the community. We hope that all students will come to the lecture and be inspired to think ‘you know what, that can be me.’ With Ambassador Orr, students will see that the sky’s the limit.”

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