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Robert J. Abernethy Professorship

ROBERT J. ABERNETHY is president of both the American Standard Development Company and the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, and managing director of Metropolitan Investments. Mr. Abernethy received a BA from Johns Hopkins University, an MBA from Harvard Business School, certificates in real estate and construction from UCLA and was formerly the controller of the technology division of Hughes Aircraft Company.

Mr. Abernethy is a member of the advisory council of the School of Advanced International Studies (Washington and Bologna) as well as a trustee of Johns Hopkins University, Davidson College, and Loyola Marymount University. He serves as vice chairman of the Atlantic Council and is on the executive board of the International Refugee Assistance Project. He is also a member of the Chairman’s Forum of CFR and the State Department Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy. Bob is a trustee for Brookings and serves on the boards of RAND Center for Global Risk & Security, the New Leaders Council, Truman National Security Project, Integrity Initiatives International, Los Angeles World Affairs Council as well as the Center for National Policy. Bob is also a member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Council with the Center for American Progress.

He serves on the UCLA arts board, the UCLA health systems board, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is also vice chairman of the Music Center of Los Angeles.

Mr. Abernethy served as commissioner of the California Transportation Commission, the Los Angeles Telecommunications Commission, and the Los Angeles Planning & Zoning Commission, and was director of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Metropolitan Water District. He was a member of the California State Board of Education and of the California Arts Council.

In 2020, Mr. Abernethy generously funded the endowment of a professorship bearing his name. The gift was matched by the Johns Hopkins Anonymous Donor Matching Fund for New Professorships. Based at SAIS Europe, the Robert J. Abernethy professor teaches, lectures, and participates in and advises academic research programs, and participates in intellectual collaboration addressing global affairs, in particular global developments in democratic institutions and constitutional studies. The chairholder convenes international scholars and disseminates insights into international affairs-related topics through publications, conferences, lectures, and short courses that enrich the academic experience for students at SAIS Europe. The Abernethy professorship was first held by professor Romano Prodi, former president of the European Commission (1999-2005) and former prime minister of Italy (1996-1998 and 2006-2008) for a two-year term.