Photo by Jay Godwin

Mark K. Updegrove to Step Down as LBJ Presidential Library Director

Feb 09, 2017


CONTACT: Anne Wheeler
[email protected]
(512) 721-0216

(AUSTIN, TX) – Mark K. Updegrove, who has served as director of the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, since 2009, will be stepping down from that position effective March 1, 2017.

Updegrove will become the CEO of the new National Medal of Honor Museum to be built along the Charleston harbor in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, opposite the city of Charleston. Updegrove will work from Austin for the next year and a half while developmental efforts for the National Medal of Honor Museum are under way.

"Serving as director of the LBJ Library has been the greatest honor in my career to this point," said Updegrove. "I'm proud of the team I've led and all we've done to elevate the legacy of President Lyndon Johnson and enhance the library's reputation as a preeminent forum for thought leadership."

Updegrove's accomplishments as director include supervising a $11 million redesign of the library's core exhibits, which has resulted in significant increases in the library's visitorship. Additionally, he raised the profile of the library by bringing in speakers which have included Mikhail Gorbachev, Sandra Day O'Connor, Eric Holder, Julián Castro, John Glenn, John Lewis, Hank Aaron, Bob Schieffer, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Cokie Roberts, Robert Gates, Karl Rove, David Axelrod, Bryan Cranston, Woody Harrelson, Rob Reiner, Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, and Richard Linklater.

Last year, Updegrove hosted the Vietnam War Summit, a substantive, unvarnished look at the most controversial facet of LBJ's legacy. Speakers included John Kerry, Henry Kissinger, and Ken Burns.

Perhaps most notably, in 2014, Updegrove planned the Civil Rights Summit, which included Barack and Michelle Obama, George W. and Laura Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and a host of civil rights luminaries. "It was the highlight of my time as director: four presidents coming to the LBJ Library to pay tribute to LBJ's courage and commitment around civil rights," said Updegrove. "I think that marked a tipping point in LBJ's legacy."

Only the fourth director of the LBJ Library, Updegrove made it his mission to advance public awareness about Lyndon Johnson and the library.

"Mark Updegrove is a rare leader possessed with vision, creativity, and organizational skills," said Larry Temple, chairman, LBJ Foundation. "He is an entrepreneurial guy both with great ideas and the skills to implement them. The programming at the LBJ Library over the last eight years has brought national and even international acclaim to the library and The University of Texas. Credit that to Mark Updegrove. I won't try to put a happy face on our disappointment on his leaving. While we will always be indebted to him for the rich legacy of accomplishment that he leaves at the Library, I will just say: Darn it. We hate to see him go and we will miss him."

During his tenure, Updegrove authored Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency, drawing on the library's vast oral histories and archival materials. Currently, Updegrove is writing his fifth book, The Last Republicans: George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush—a Father, a Son, and the End of an Era, which will be published by HarperCollins in November 2017. He has authored: Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House (2006); Baptism by Fire: Eight Presidents Who Took Office During Times of Crisis (2009); and Destiny of Democracy: The Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library (2015). He has conducted exclusive interviews with five U.S. presidents.

Updegrove has also written for The New York Times, Politico, Parade, The Nation, The Daily Beast, American Heritage, National Geographic, Time, Texas Monthly, and is an analyst for ABC News on matters relating to the presidency.

Earlier in his career, Updegrove served as manager of Time in Los Angeles; president of TimeCanada, Time's separate Canadian edition and operation; and publisher of Newsweek in New York.