In Memoriam, Ambassador Robert M. Orr

Ambassador Robert M. Orr, photography by ICAS Temple University, Japan Campus

At the Japan campus of Temple University (TUJ), we profoundly mourn the loss of Ambassador Robert “Skipp” Orr (1953-2021). Not only did Ambassador Orr compile a long and distinguished career in Japan and around the world, but also his ties to TUJ ran deep and he touched the lives of many individuals within the Temple community.

TUJ Dean Matthew J. Wilson noted that “Ambassador Orr was an exceptional educator, executive, and statesman. He was an individual with a passion for making a positive impact on everyone and everything around him. His enthusiasm and drive for excellence were inspiring.” Dean Wilson continued that “it is my hope that we can all learn from the example and legacy of Ambassador Orr and his wife, Mitsuko.”

From 1985 to 1993, Ambassador Orr served at TUJ as a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute of Pacific Rim Studies. His book, The Emergence of Japan’s Foreign Aid Power (Columbia University Press) won the 1991 Ohira Prize for best book on the Asia Pacific. Throughout his life, Ambassador Orr continued to support TUJ in various capacities including member of the TUJ Board of Governors. Ambassador Orr was last on campus for the opening of TUJ’s new campus in Sangenjaya.
Ambassador Orr had a remarkable career. After branching out from academia, he quickly ascended with a career in industry including a five-year tenure as President of Boeing Japan (2002-2007). Before joining Boeing, he served as Vice President of Motorola’s European Affairs Division. He also held various senior level posts with Motorola in Japan culminating as Vice President and Director of Government Relations. From 2007 to 2010, he served as chairman of the board of the Panasonic Foundation.

In September 2010, Ambassador Orr was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the United States Executive Director with the rank of Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank. He served as ambassador until December 31, 2015.

Ambassador Orr recently received the Order of the Rising Sun, an honor granted by the Emperor of Japan. He has positively impacted various organizations with his leadership including the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies, Stanford Center for Technology and Innovation, Asian Development Bank Institute, Council of American Ambassadors, Pacific Forum, and National Association of Japan-America Societies. The Ambassador earned a B.A. in History, cum laude, from Florida Atlantic University, M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and Ph.D. in Political Science from Tokyo University.