Dean Rusk served as U.S. secretary of state from 1961 to 1969, the second longest tenure in that office (after Cordell Hull, 1933-44). He was only the second Georgian to be named to the office; the first was John Forsyth in 1833. During that period of service under U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, he was a primary architect of U.S. intervention in the Vietnam War (1964-73) on the side of the South Vietnamese. He was known, too, for his dedication to arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union and other early manifestations of détente, as well as for his skill in seeking a diplomatic resolution to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
The Dean Rusk Center was established in 1977 to expand the scope of research, teaching, and service in international law and policy in order to increase understanding of international issues, provide a sound basis for foreign policy decision-making, and contribute solutions to global problems.