Following a distinguished academic career at the University of Texas, James A. Bill joined the College’s faculty in 1987 as a chaired professor in the Department of Government and director of the then Center for International Studies.
The Center for International Studies became the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies in 1989, the same year Bill became the Wendy and Emery Reves Professor of International Studies. For more than a decade, Bill molded the Reves Center into one of the country’s leading undergraduate international studies programs. Today, the Center coordinates many of the university’s international programs and activities, including playing a key role in oversight of study abroad programs, providing services for international students and scholars, and supporting faculty and student international research.
“This tribute to Professor Jim Bill's manifold scholarly and administrative accomplishments couldn't be more richly deserved,” said Stephen E. Hanson, vice provost for international affairs and current director of Reves Center for International Studies. “All of us at the Reves Center owe a profound debt of gratitude to Jim as our founding Director.”
During his tenure as director, the Reves Center received a number of prestigious grants, including from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the Japan Foundation, Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Korea Research Foundation. Two interdisciplinary, internationally focused degrees were established. Study abroad programs doubled in student participation, and the College’s first tuition exchange programs were created. The James A. Bill Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment honors Bill’s efforts in supporting international education at the College.
Bill was also known as an exceptional teacher at William & Mary. In 1992, the graduating international relations students voted to present him with an outstanding faculty award, which recognized a teacher who played an especially important role in their learning at W&M.
In 1998, Bill retired as director of the Reves Center but remained active as a mentor, teacher and scholar in the government department. He continued to offer classes in Middle East politics and was instrumental in creating the College’s Middle Eastern Interdisciplinary Program. In 2004, Bill officially retired from the College and was awarded emeritus status.
Bill, considered one of the world’s top scholars on Iran, is the author of the highly acclaimed The Eagle and Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations, which explores the relationship between the United States and Iran from the 1940s through the Iranian revolution, Bill is also the author or co-author of ten books including the authorized biography of American diplomat George Ball.
James A. Bill earned a bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs and philosophy from Assumption College, a master’s degree in political science from Penn State University, and a master’s in politics as well as his Ph.D. in politics and Near East Studies from Princeton. Bill also served two terms of the prestigious Overseers Committee to Visit the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University.