Nelson S. "Strobe" Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and former deputy secretary of state from 1995-2001, delivered the keynote address during the Washington University School of Law diploma ceremony on Friday, May 21, in Mudd Field.
Talbott spoke about the challenges facing the nation — from the economy to the environment — and the role laws and rules play in addressing these pressing issues.
He said that this group of law school graduates is part of a "threshold generation — and a potentially transformative one."
"Why? Because you're young enough to be around either to live with the consequences of the problems if they're not solved, but you're also old enough to be part of the solution," he said.
David W. Detjen (AB '70, JD '73), member of the law school’s National Council, served as the Voice of the Alumni during the ceremony. Rebecca Murphy Christensen, juris doctorate candidate, was the Voice of the Class.
As deputy secretary of state in the administration of President Bill Clinton, Talbott was deeply involved in U.S. policy abroad and in the management of executive branch relations with the U.S. Congress.
Talbott, who received an honorary doctor of laws during the University Commencement prior to the law school ceremony, entered government service after 21 years with Time magazine. As a reporter, he covered eastern Europe, the U.S. State Department and the White House. He also served Time as Washington bureau chief, editor-at-large and foreign affairs columnist.
A prolific author, he has written numerous books on diplomacy and U.S. foreign relations, including, The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation. He co-edited his collection of essays, The Age of Terror: America and the World After September 11. He also translated and edited two volumes of Nikita Khrushchev's memoirs in the early 1970s.
Talbott's professional affiliations include service to the National Commission on War Powers, Council on Foreign Relations, North American Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
In 2009, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
At WUSTL, Talbott is a member of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy advisory committee. WUSTL and Brookings began an academic partnership in 2009. The institutions now offer joint programs, including internships, lectures and other educational activities.