Dr. Mark Atwood Lawrence Named Director of the LBJ Presidential Library

Nov 19, 2019

Lawrence Assumes Duties on January 5, 2020

Media Contact: Anne Wheeler
[email protected]

Image: Download headshot

(AUSTIN, TX) – On Nov. 19, 2019, David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, named Dr. Mark Atwood Lawrence as the next director of the LBJ Presidential Library, effective January 5, 2020.

Currently, Dr. Lawrence is Associate Professor of History at The University of Texas at Austin, where he has taught since 2000. He is also Director of Graduate Studies for UT-Austin’s Clements Center for National Security.

In making the announcement, Ferriero said, "I can think of no one more fitting than Dr. Lawrence to head the Library and Museum of the 'Education President' than one who has spent a career using primary source materials to educate students and scholars. With his extensive knowledge of the 1960s, proven scholarship, and experience in museum design and planning, Dr. Lawrence is uniquely qualified to lead this Library and Museum."

Larry Temple, Chairman of the LBJ Foundation, added, "Mark Lawrence is a stellar selection. He has researched and taught at the LBJ Presidential Library and has participated in myriad programs at the Library for nearly two decades. We are grateful to Archivist David Ferriero for this outstanding appointment."

Dr. Lawrence presents an overview of the Vietnam War to K-12 educators during a 2019 summer workshop at the LBJ Presidential Library.
Dr. Lawrence presents an overview of the Vietnam War to K-12 educators during a 2019 summer workshop at the LBJ Presidential Library. LBJ Library photo by Jay Godwin. [Download]

Dr. Lawrence will be the sixth director of the LBJ Presidential Library, which opened to the public in 1971. "I’m thrilled by the opportunity to lead the LBJ Presidential Library, a unique treasure for the Austin community and the nation as a whole," said Dr. Lawrence. "More than half a century has passed since LBJ left office, but his presidency remains extraordinarily relevant. I look forward above all to helping younger generations appreciate the importance of the 1960s and legacies that reverberate today."

Dr. Lawrence teaches his
Dr. Lawrence teaching "The Johnson Years" class at the LBJ Presidential Library.
LBJ Library photo by Jay Godwin. [Download]

Dr. Lawrence is considered a prominent scholar on President Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War. Beginning in 2015, he has taught a University of Texas undergraduate course at the LBJ Presidential Library entitled "The Johnson Years." Mark K. Updegrove, President and CEO of the LBJ Foundation, has taught the class alongside Lawrence. "I can speak firsthand to Mark's superlative ability to connect with students and his vast knowledge of President Johnson and the times during which he served in the White House. Mark will be the ideal leader of the LBJ Presidential Library as its next director."

At the LBJ Presidential Library's Vietnam War Summit in April 2016, Dr. Lawrence led a discussion about "Lessons Learned" from the Vietnam War with three distinguished military veterans: Admiral William McRaven and former U. S. Senators Bob Kerrey and Charles Robb.

Dr. Lawrence, Bob Kerrey, William McRaven, and Charles Robb at the Vietnam War Summit
Dr. Lawrence, Bob Kerrey, William McRaven, and Charles Robb at the Vietnam War Summit. LBJ Library photo by David Hume Kennerly. [Download]

Currently, Dr. Lawrence is completing a study of U.S. policymaking toward the Third World in the LBJ era, tentatively entitled "In the Shadow of Vietnam: The United States and the Third World in the 1960s."

Dr. Lawrence is author of Assuming the Burden:  Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), which won the Paul Birdsall Prize for European military and strategic history and the George Louis Beer Prize for European international history. In 2008, he published The Vietnam War: A Concise International History (New York: Oxford University Press), which was selected by the History Book Club and the Military History Book Club. 

He has also published several edited and co-edited books, as well as numerous articles, chapters, and reviews on various aspects of the history of U.S. foreign relations. His reviews and op-eds have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Austin American Statesman.

In 2005, Dr. Lawrence was awarded the President’s Associates' Award for Teaching Excellence at UT-Austin, and in 2019 he won the Silver Spurs Centennial Teaching Fellowship from UT-Austin's College of Liberal Arts.  

Abby Brown, a former student of Dr. Lawrence said, "Professor Lawrence distinguishes himself as a professor in how he challenges his students to think critically alongside the opportunities he affords his students. He makes an active effort to provoke insightful discussion during class sessions, making sure that all feel not only comfortable, but encouraged to share analysis on course material."

Dr. Lawrence held the Cassius Marcellus Clay Fellowship at Yale University (2006-2008) and the Stanley Kaplan Visiting Professorship in American Foreign Policy at Williams College (2011-2012). He has served as Consulting Historian for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and for the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, which opened in Columbus, Ohio, in November 2018.

Originally from Fall River, Massachusetts, Dr. Lawrence grew up in nearby Westport. He earned his bachelor's degree from Stanford University in 1988 and his doctorate in history from Yale University in 1998.

Dr. Lawrence lives in Austin with his wife, Stephanie Osbakken, who is Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Health and Society Program at UT-Austin. They have two daughters, Maya (8 years old) and Bryn (7).

Previous directors of the LBJ Library have been Chester Newland (1968-1970), Harry Middleton (1970-2002), Betty Sue Flowers (2002-2009), Mark K. Updegrove (2009-2017), and Kyle Longley (2018-2019). 

LBJ Presidential Library
At the LBJ Presidential Library, visitors have an opportunity to learn about America’s 36th President, Lyndon Johnson, one of the most complex and fascinating leaders. Through innovative, state-of-the art exhibitions, the political and personal lives of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson come alive. This contemporary experience allows visitors to understand the decisions President Johnson faced and experience his passion for critical issues such as education, civil rights, the environment, health care, and the arts. All aspects of Johnson’s presidency are explored, including the Vietnam War. Visitors can pick up a telephone to hear audio recordings of Johnson as he conducts business –a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse inside the White House, found only at the LBJ Library. 

Located on The University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, the LBJ Library is one of fourteen presidential libraries in the United States.  www.lbjlibrary.org