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NACUA's Distinguished Service Award

Robert E. Bienstock - 2013

Robert Bienstock is senior associate general counsel at Yale University. He has spent his career in higher education law, first at the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) Institute for Public Law, then at its University Counsel Office, and, since 2006, at Yale’s Office of General Counsel. He received his J.D. from Boalt Hall and his B.S. with highest honors in physics from State University New York at Stony Brook. 

Over the course of his career he has practiced in most areas of higher education law, including student and faculty governance, First Amendment, procurement, utilities, medical malpractice, tax, and public finance. For the past 20 years, he has blended his lifelong interest in science with his higher education practice, concentrating on research and technology law. He has held various line and supervisory titles at Yale and UNM, including a one-year stint as UNM’s interim university counsel, during which he carried out a complete reorganization of the office. 

Since joining NACUA in 1988, Robert has served on the Board of Directors from 2003 – 2006 and has volunteered on over 10 committees. He has attended nearly 30 annual conferences and CLE workshops. Robert has presented on higher education topics nationally and internationally, including serving over 30 times as a speaker, moderator, and discussion group leader at NACUA educational programs. He has written two NACUANOTES and an article in The Journal of College and University Law

Among the accomplishments of which he is most proud are his Guide to Conducting a Hearing in a Higher Education Setting (CAP 1996), his founding of the listserv for research law (now a part of NACUALINK) and his work in the late 20th century to develop research and technology law as a practice area within NACUA. Also, after Paul Ward and others did the heavy lifting to conceptualize and create the NACUANET Bulletin Board, as it was then called, Paul was gracious enough to let Robert break the ice and post the first NACUANET query. 

He is described by his NACUA colleagues as one of NACUA’s “go-to” people on the increasingly important (and complex) issues of research, technology, transfer, and taxation. Robert has been a calm guide to many colleagues who know far less about these issues, patiently and ably answering basic and complex questions about the intricacies of federal conflict of interest law. As an early organizer of NACUA’s LGBT affinity group, QUA, Robert has also helped make NACUA a friendlier and more welcoming place to members of all orientations. 

NACUA is pleased to recognize Robert E. Bienstock as a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding and exemplary service to the Association.