Symposium to Explore 200 Years of Russian-American Relations on Jan. 22

January 16, 2008 — The Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia will host "Two Hundred Years of Russian-American Relations," the inaugural Ambassador William C. Battle Symposium on American Diplomacy, on Tuesday, Jan. 22, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The panel, presented by the Miller Center's "Governing America in a Global Era" program, is part of the Virginia Opera's statewide Virginia Celebrates Russia initiative (, commemorating the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia.

From the era of Thomas Jefferson to today, the political, military, economic and cultural relationship between the United States and Russia has fascinated citizens of both countries. In this discussion, the Honorable Jack Matlock, former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, will join University of Virginia professors Peter Onuf, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, and Allen Lynch, the Hugh S. & Winifred B. Cumming Memorial Chair in International Affairs in the Department of Politics, to examine how the U.S.-Russian relationship continues to evolve. Melvyn Leffler, Edward Stettinius Professor of American History at U.Va., will moderate.

"The U.S.-Russia relationship has been one of the most pivotal in foreign affairs over the last two centuries," said Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, director of the Miller Center. "We are delighted that the support of Bill and Barry Battle enables us to hold this event, bringing together Ambassador Matlock and these distinguished scholars to examine its effects and implications — and to showcase some of the Miller Center's exceptional resources, including the secret White House recordings of presidents grappling with the Cold War and oral history interviews reflecting the mood of the times and the details about how foreign, military and economic policy was made in the Executive Branch. We look forward to a fascinating conversation."

In recognition of the important and distinguished service rendered to the nation by Battle and in gratitude for the significant philanthropic support of both Battle and his wife, Barry Webb Battle, the Miller Center and the University of Virginia have named the annual series in his honor.

William "Bill" Battle, a Charlottesville native, holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Virginia. His service in the Pacific Theater during World War II earned him the Silver Star. He later joined the law firm of McGuire, Woods and Battle, becoming a partner in 1950.

He distinguished himself as ambassador to Australia, appointed in 1962 by President Kennedy. In 1966, he served as campaign manager for William B. Spong's successful U.S. Senate race before mounting an unsuccessful bid to be Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 1969.

From 1972 until 1983, he was president and chief executive officer of Fieldcrest Mills Inc., and also was president of the American Textile Manufacturers Association. Battle served as chairman of the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center, then as chairman of the reconstituted Ivy Foundation. He served on several corporate boards, was a member of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the U.Va. Board of Visitors, and was president of the United States Golf Association.

"Two Hundred Years of Russian-American Relations" will be held at the Miller Center of Public Affairs. The conference is free and open to the public. More information is available online at, where the panel will be Webcast live and archived.

The Miller Center of Public Affairs is a leading nonpartisan public policy institution aimed at bringing together engaged citizens, scholars, members of the media and government officials to focus on issues of national importance to the governance of the United States, with a special interest in the American presidency.