On February 9, 2021, the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy at Texas A&M University hosted the 2021 ConocoPhillips White House Lecture online, featuring the Mosbacher commerce department team. Wayne Berman, former Senior Counselor and Assistant Secretary, moderated the evening and was joined by Thomas J. Collamore, former Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary; Ambassador Susan Schwab, former Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service; Bruce Soll, former Counselor to the Secretary; and Wendell Willkie II, former General Counsel. The evening was filled with laughter, policy discussion, and inspirational stories about working with Secretary Robert Mosbacher. The panelists described the glowing qualities of the former secretary including his ability to listen, his transparency, his talent for team building, and most of all his integrity. Berman noted that Secretary Mosbacher’s years at the department were defined by, “His amazingly positive, can-do attitude; his talent for team building; and his continual searching for bipartisan agreement. Bob’s greatest attribute was that he was an amazingly good listener; he knew how to create consensus, and he was a gentleman.”
The conversation transitioned between stories about Secretary Mosbacher’s character and public policy. Ambassador Susan Schwab compared the current economic and political trade climate of China with the focus on Japan during her time on the commerce department team, noting the similarities and differences between both markets. Wendell and Soll discussed Secretary Mosbacher’s respect for both science and policy in decision making, using as an example his conduct of the census with its challenge of counting every person, regardless of citizenship. As Willkie described, Secretary Mosbacher led a very transparent process that looked at both the science for statistically adjusting for undercounted populations and its policy implications, and in the end, because the scientists didn’t agree, made the tough decision not to adjust. That difficult census decision was later affirmed by a 9-0 decision by the Supreme Court.
The evening concluded with questions submitted from the audience about the lessons the panelists learned while serving at the commerce department. The Mosbacher Institute was honored to host a reunion of the incredible Mosbacher commerce department team and hear the inspirational remarks about Secretary Mosbacher and his career.