Internationally Renowned Attorney Robert Mundheim to Receive Honorary Degree from UArizona Law

May 10, 2023

The degree will be awarded during the University of Arizona Commencement ceremony on May 12.

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The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law will present an honorary Doctor of Laws degree to long-time professor and corporate governance expert Robert H. Mundheim. The degree will be awarded during the UArizona Commencement ceremony on May 12.

Robert Mundheim

Mundheim has been a leader across the worlds of law and business building an astonishing career that spans more than six decades. Among his many influential roles, he has served as the University Professor of Law and Finance and Dean at the University of Pennsylvania Law School; as general counsel of the U.S. Treasury Department, where he played a lead role in successfully negotiating the release of the U.S. hostages in Iran; as special counsel to the Securities and Exchange Commission; as the Vice Chair of the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc.; and as executive vice president and general counsel for Salomon Inc. Since 1999, he has been of counsel to the global law firm of Shearman & Sterling. 

Deeply committed to education and advancing the legal profession, he has influenced countless law students and legal peers as a professor, Dean and colleague. Throughout his career he also organized and participated in numerous continuing legal education programs and symposia that helped to advance the understanding of complex topics in the field of business law and provided essential instruction to the profession. In 2022, to commemorate his commitment to education, a group of his closest colleagues and friends worked with University of Arizona Law to establish the Robert H. Mundheim Professorship of Law and Business. The inaugural Mundheim Professorship of Law and Business was awarded to Barak Orbach who serves as the founding director of the Business Law program at University of Arizona Law.

“Bob is one of the world’s most influential and most respected corporate governance giants. To our students, however, Bob is a faculty member who is always accessible to offer professional advice and organizes activities for students,” explained Orbach. “This aspect of Bob’s life is possibly the most astonishing one. No matter how busy Bob is, he is always available to get to know people, offer advice, and create opportunities for students, professionals, and organizations.”

Mundheim fled Nazi Germany with his parents and brother when he was 5 years old. His experience created a sense that he had much to be thankful for and that he had an obligation to give back. He has given substantial time to a variety of public service organizations and activities. He has been a Council member for the American Law Institute for more than 30 years, is a trustee of the New School, Curtis Institute of Music, the Salzburg Global Seminar, the American College of Governance Counsel, and has been the President of the Appleseed Foundation and the American Academy in Berlin. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Lawyer and the Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award from the American Bar Association. One of his proudest achievements as dean was leading the way in making a period of public service mandatory as a condition for graduation from Penn Law.

“This country took us in when we needed to be taken in and that always left me with the notion that you’ve got to give back for the gift of safety and opportunity. I’ve tried to do that in the course of my career.” noted Mundheim. “I’m very lucky to have had parents who gave me a good grounding and emphasized to me that my values should guide me personally and professionally. Meeting your values is what’s important, not the financial results.”

In 2011, Mundheim joined University of Arizona Law as a professor of corporate law and finance where, each spring, he teaches the popular annual seminar on Corporate Governance. As part of the seminar, Mundheim moderates conversations with national leaders in business and law, relating their experiences in and perspectives about corporate governance, markets, ethics and career development. Seminar guests such as Simon Lorne, vice chair and chief legal Officer of Millennium, the largest hedge fund operator in the world; Michele Coleman Mayes, presently General Counsel of the New York Public Library; Eric Grossman, General Counsel of Morgan Stanley; and John Cannon III, co-chair of Shearman & Sterling’s Corporate Governance Advisory Group, have been regular participants.

“Bob has played the role of mentor and advocate throughout his career, as he sought to diversify areas of corporate legal practice, including the role of in-house counsel at major public corporations,” wrote Marc L. Miller, dean of University of Arizona Law. “Some of those leaders in corporate practice have visited Arizona Law, and they testify to Bob’s mentorship and decisive role in their professional success.”  

When reflecting on his time at University of Arizona Law, Mundheim noted, “I’ve had a great time here. I’ve enjoyed my faculty colleagues. I’ve enjoyed the students. I’ve enjoyed the weather. If I look back on my life in substantial part, it is a question of luck, who calls, and how it works out. And I was lucky to get the call to come to the law school at the University of Arizona.”