The announcement of the co-directorship follows a nationwide search providing the Straus Institute with the benefit of the complementary strengths of Stipanowich and Robinson. “Both Peter and Tom bring to the Straus Institute a passion for peace-making and an abundance of experience,” said Andrew K. Benton, president, Pepperdine University. “With impressive backgrounds in both dispute resolution theory and practice, they jointly build a wholly integrated organization that under girds the mission of the University and dovetails with the law school’s academic environment.”
Pepperdine’s Straus Institute administers an LLM (advanced law degree), Master of Dispute Resolution, and Certificate in Dispute Resolution for more than 400 degree seeking students at Pepperdine’s School of Law. The Straus Institute is also a popular provider of continuing professional education programs in negotiation, mediation, and arbitration to more than 1,000 lawyers, judges other mid-career professionals every year. A commitment to research and publication, service, and reconciliation in religious communities completes a survey of Straus’ programs.
Dean Ken Starr of Pepperdine’s School of Law, expressed enthusiasm for the co-leadership roles that Stipanowich and Robinson will play. “We are fortunate to have two dispute resolution experts with the caliber that Tom and Peter possess,” said Starr. “The synergy that their individual backgrounds and strengths create will serve only to raise the already high bar of excellence at the Straus Institute.”
Stipanowich, who will also join the Pepperdine law faculty as a full professor, brings to the Straus Institute a long and distinguished career in academics and international leadership. For many years the William L. Matthews Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky, Stipanowich has authored leading books and articles on arbitration, mediation and conflict management, including a new book and teaching materials entitled Resolving Disputes: Theory, Practice and Law (Aspen 2005). Stipanowich played an advisory role in national efforts at statutory reform (the Uniform Arbitration Act and Uniform Mediation Act), served as chief drafter of a protocol for consumer ADR programs, and played an important role in the development of the leading construction and securities ADR rules and policies. Stipanowich served as a Public Member and Chair of the Securities Industry Conference on Arbitration (SICA), on the Board of Directors of the AAA, and Chair of the Advisory Committee to the Global Disputes Research Center. An experienced arbitrator, mediator, special master and facilitator, he has conducted hundreds of workshops and presentations to international and national organizations, major corporations and law firms on four continents. He is one of four (and the only non-British) Companion of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a Fellow of the American College of Construction Lawyers, a Founding Fellow of the American College of Commercial Arbitrators, and an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators.
Since 2001, Stipanowich has served as President and CEO of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR Institute), a nonprofit research and educational institution in New York City. He oversaw dramatic expansion of CPR Institute’s international initiatives, including conferences and programs in Europe and China; substantial revenue growth; and the move to new and larger headquarters. Says President Benton, “Professor Stipanowich will tangibly enhance Straus’ academic initiatives as well as the law school’s program of research and scholarship. His appointment will broaden and deepen its profile in the United States and internationally.”
His emphasis in arbitration and in dispute resolution in the construction industry augments existing areas of Straus specialties. The designation of Academic Director reflects Stipanowich’s interest in enhancing Straus’ academic programs and his personal commitment to research and scholarship. His appointment presents numerous incremental opportunities for Straus to provide dispute resolution programs and service throughout the United States and internationally.
Robinson said of Stipanowich, “Tom’s leadership of CPR put him in one of the most influential positions in the dispute resolution field. I am delighted that the Straus directorship attracted Tom’s attention and imagination for what he might accomplish by returning to academia in this capacity. I am very excited about the prospects of working together.”
Likewise, Stipanowich expressed, “I have long been aware of the accolades for the programs and people at Straus. While I am just beginning to work with them, I already recognize an extraordinary commitment to innovation in the advancement of dispute resolution educational programs. I look forward to working with Peter and the rest of the Straus staff and School of Law faculty to continue their tradition of excellence.”
Peter Robinson has served as the associate director of the Straus Institute since 1990 and as acting director for the last 18 months. His appointment ensures the continuity of the strategic relationships, direction, vision, and values that have been instrumental to Straus’ success. Professor Robinson’s humor, energy and ability to articulate lessons from his mediation experiences have made him a popular lecturer and trainer; he has presented advanced negotiation and mediation skills courses in more than thirty states and in Argentina, Canada, England, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, and Mexico.
Prior to joining the Pepperdine community, Robinson served as the director of the Christian Conciliation Service of Los Angeles (CCS), a non-profit dispute resolution center and a staff attorney for a U.S. Government agency that insures pension benefits pursuant to ERISA. He is a member of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators, a fellow of the International Academy of Mediators, and has served on the boards of California Dispute Resolution Council, Southern California Mediation Association, Dispute Resolution Services, Christian Conciliation Service, and Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement. He has been recognized as Peacemaker of the Year by the Southern California Mediation Association and as a “California Super Lawyer” in the area of mediation.