In Memory of Professor Robert Powell: Colleague, Mentor & Friend

December 15, 2021

In memoriam photo of Professor Robert Powell, 1956-2021Robert L. “Bob” Powell passed away on December 13, 2021. He passed peacefully in his home, in the company of friends.

Bob was blessed with a powerful, extraordinarily clear intellect. He shared this gift with the world through many pioneering contributions to international relations, political economy, and game theory. His work on international relations theory, on commitment problems and the onset of war, and on deterrence theory remains foundational today. 

Bob was an equally skilled teacher. In undergraduate lectures, graduate seminars, and Ph.D. mentoring, he reminded us that rigor and compassion are not contradictory. For generations of students, he personified game theory training at Berkeley.

Bob was a generous colleague. He unfailingly provided incisive, constructive feedback on colleagues’ research. He built institutions to bring colleagues together, through his stalwart presence in the Political Economy seminar and his prior service as Chair of the UC Berkeley Academic Senate. 

To many of us, Bob was above all a dear and true friend. His warm, steady, and graceful presence enriched so many of our lives. 

We remember Bob as a brilliant scholar, dedicated colleague, and loyal friend. Through his legacy, he will remain with us in the Political Science department, across the Berkeley campus, and in his scholarly disciplines. We will always be better for having known him. 

We invite friends whose lives Bob touched to leave a note of tribute or remembrance here.