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James R. Roach Endowed Fund in American Foreign Relations

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Dr. James R. Roach
Dr. James R. Roach


Clad in his jacket and tie, Dr. James R. Roach was an old-school professor whose carefully polished lectures on U.S. foreign policy and the intricacies of South Asian politics thrilled University of Texas students for decades. 

Roach, a World War II veteran and former cultural attaché at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, taught government at UT for 45 years.

Unbowed by the rise of the computer, Roach bought reams of cloth ribbon for his manual Royal typewriter, on which he tapped out innumerable letters to the former students he kept in touch with for years.

"He was a major figure on campus, and he has had a major impact on thousands of students," said Gary Freeman, chairman of the UT Government Department. "He's not just your typical professor who taught for a long time. He left a big footprint."
Former student Robert Hardgrave said Roach's classes on India during the 1950s were the inspiration for his career as a government professor specializing in the country.

"I don't know of anyone in the Government Department who had the impact on students that he did," said Hardgrave, who joined his mentor at the UT Government Department before retiring nine years ago. "He inspired a number of students to go into the American Foreign Service. Others, like me...became professors."

Born in Rock Rapids, Iowa, in 1922, Roach joined the Navy in 1943, where he served in Australia, the Solomon Islands, and the Philippines in the areas of bomb disposal and ordnance intelligence. Roach earned a doctorate in government at Harvard University and joined the UT faculty in 1949, where he taught until 1995.

Freeman remembered Roach as a voracious reader, who, in the days before e-mail and hyperlinks, would clip magazine and journal articles for his colleagues and place them in their mailboxes at the Government Department.

Dr. James Roach died Aug. 5, 2010. He was 87.

The James R. Roach Endowed Fund in American Foreign Relations was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on August 8, 2000, for the benefit of the College of Liberal Arts. Gift funds were provided by various donors of Austin, Texas. The endowment honors James R. Roach, Ph.D. of Austin, Texas.

Adapted from the James R. Roach obituary by Jeremy Schwartz of the Austin American Statesman.

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