Skip to main content

Strobe Talbott to be first distinguished visitor at Buffett Institute

Renowned journalist, diplomat, foreign-policy expert to inaugurate Global Studies program
Strobe Talbott
Strobe Talbott, photo by Katherine Lambert

EVANSTON - Strobe Talbott, the president of the Brookings Institution and an expert in international relations, will be the inaugural distinguished visitor for Northwestern University’s Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies Distinguished Visitors Program.

Talbott was a long-time reporter for Time magazine before serving as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State from 1994-2001. He has been the president of the Brookings Institution since 2002. After 15 years in that post, he will be a Senior Fellow in the Brookings Foreign Policy program starting next month.

“Over the course of his extraordinary career, Strobe Talbott has engaged global policymaking and analysis at the very highest levels, most recently as president of the Brookings Institution, our country’s most prestigious and influential think tank,” said Bruce Carruthers, director of the Buffett Institute. “Talbott will bring deep insights and rich experience to both the Buffett Institute and to Northwestern University. I am very pleased that his visit will launch a new program that invites to campus accomplished global leaders, researchers and practitioners to enrich the intellectual life of students and faculty.”

As the first distinguished visitor, Talbott will be on campus three times during the winter and spring quarters, where he will take part in major public conversations on national politics, contemporary Russia and the relationship of academic research and national policy. He will meet with undergraduate and graduate students interested in careers in journalism and public policy as well as with faculty and Buffett Institute researchers.

Talbott also will join Northwestern faculty and international scholars at a conference on the consequences of globalization sponsored by the Buffett Institute and Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research that will be held May 24-25, 2018.

“I’m excited and honored to visit Northwestern and the Buffett Institute in the course of 2018,” Talbott said. “Having met with faculty and learned about the Institute’s mission, I’m impressed by the quality of soon-to-be-colleagues and looking forward to exchanging ideas — and, of course, engaging with students. I will learn from the experience, and, I hope, my career of journalism, diplomacy and policy research in Washington might help me bring useful perspectives to the teachers, the students and the community.”

The program brings thought leaders in international affairs, senior governmental officials and heads of nonprofits and international institutions to Northwestern. Talbott is the first of what is planned to be a number of distinguished visitors.

Talbott served in the State Department from 1993 to 2001, first as ambassador-at-large and special adviser to the secretary of state for the new independent states of the former Soviet Union, then as deputy secretary of state for seven years.

Talbott entered government service after 21 years with Time magazine. As a reporter, he covered Eastern Europe, the State Department and the White House, then was Washington bureau chief, editor-at-large and foreign affairs columnist. He was twice awarded the Edward Weintal Prize for distinguished diplomatic reporting.

He is the author of 12 books and has written for Foreign Affairs, The New Yorker, Foreign Policy, International Security, The Economist, Financial Times, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Washington Post and Slate. 

In 2011, Talbott was named by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as chair of the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, a post he held through Secretary John Kerry’s tenure. He has also been a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Academy of Diplomacy, chairman of the board of the American Ditchley Foundation and a governor of the Conference of Montreal.

The Buffett Institute Distinguished Visitors Program is made possible through the generosity of alumna Roberta Buffett Elliott ’54, who made a gift of more than $100 million to Northwestern in 2015, marking the largest single gift to the University to date.

Elliott earned a degree in history and Phi Beta Kappa honors from Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences in 1954. She has been a major supporter of international studies at Northwestern for many years.

“I’m very pleased that our first distinguished visitor at the Buffett Institute will be Strobe Talbott,” said Elliott. “Bringing leaders who are prominent and influential in world affairs to Northwestern is a key goal of this program, and I’m looking forward to hearing Mr. Talbott’s insights when he comes to campus.”

The announcement of Talbott’s appointment was made Thursday night at a concert at Northwestern by Peter Buffett, who is a son of Warren Buffett, who attended the event, along with Roberta Buffett Elliott. Peter Buffett is an Emmy Award-winning musician and author who is an advocate of equitable global philanthropy. The concert was hosted by the Buffett Institute and co-sponsored by the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research, the Department of Radio-TV-Film, the Gender & Sexuality Studies Program and the Women’s Center.

Elliott’s gift in 2015 was part of We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern, the University’s $3.75 billion fundraising campaign. The funds raised through the “We Will” Campaign are helping realize the transformational vision set forth in Northwestern’s strategic plan and solidify the University’s position among the world’s leading research universities. More information on We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern is available at

More information on the Buffett Institute is available at