SKILLMAN, NJ – Robert A. Swift, a 1968 graduate of Haverford College, has been named the winner of the 2010 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Achievement Award, hosted by the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) and presented by Rolex Watch U.S.A.
Swift was honored on Friday, September 10th, during this year’s International Tennis Hall of Fame Board of Directors meeting, where he was presented with a distinctive Rolex timepiece. In addition to this special gift, the winner and a guest were invited to watch a session at this year’s U.S. Open from the President’s Box, courtesy of the USTA, and also Swift was recognized during the ITHF’s Legend’s Ball. The ITA Achievement Award winner’s alma mater’s collegiate tennis program will also receive a $1,000 donation from the ITA.
Robert Swift played No. 1 singles all four years, serving as Captain his senior year at Haverford College. After a brief stint serving in the Vietnam War, Robert resumed his education at NYU, where he received his J.D. degree in 1973. Swift is now a senior member in the law firm of Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C. located in Philadelphia, where he is regarded as a pioneer in developing human rights jurisprudence into a vehicle to compensate victims worldwide for the most heinous of abuses. Swift has been recognized by his peers as one of the leading trial lawyers of his generation. He has been a finalist for trial lawyer of the year honors from the National Law Journal and the Public Justice organization.
In 1986 Swift took on Ferdinand Marcos, former president of the Philippines, in a precedent setting case in which Swift applied class action methodology to human rights abuses (torture, summary execution and disappearance of 10,000 Filipinos) which resulted in a $2 billion judgment (the largest personal injury judgment in history) against the former President. The judgment was affirmed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On March 17, 2008, Swift argued Republic of the Philippines et al. v. Pimentel before the US Supreme Court, an action to collect on his historic judgment. This was the first human rights case to be heard by that Court. In June 2008, the US Supreme Court thwarted the recovery of compensation, but Swift continues his more than 24 year odyssey to recover compensation for victims.
The architecture Swift developed in the Marcos Litigation was applied in various Holocaust cases that were filed in the late 1990’s against German, Austrian and Swiss companies alleging slave labor and financial abuses during World War II. As co-lead counsel, but more importantly, as one of the principal negotiators, Swift played a prominent role in settlements totaling $7.5 billion now being distributed to over 2 million Holocaust survivors and heirs.
As chairman of Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education (“AAYTE”), he was instrumental in merging the National Junior Tennis League of Philadelphia into his organization. Under his leadership, youth programs were expanded leading to the negotiation with the City of Philadelphia to lease for 80 years a 7 acre tract in historic Fairmount Park for the construction of a new regional tennis center exclusively for youth. The center, named for Arthur Ashe, had its grand opening in June 2006 and was recently named the Best Public Tennis Facility by the USTA, ITF and USTA Middle States Section.
Robert Swift resides in Willistown, Pennsylvania with Meredith, his wife of 32 years.
The ITA Achievement Award was created in 1994 to pay tribute each year to past participants in the world of collegiate varsity tennis who have achieved excellence in their chosen careers. The person honored annually by the ITA as the Achievement Award winner is unique in his or her character and accomplishments. The spirit of this award honors both professional success and contributions to society, made either as a direct result of a career, or through humanitarian efforts.
“The lessons learned on the court over a period of four years are a vital companion to the academic lessons of higher education,” said David A Benjamin, ITA Executive Director. “The winner of the ITA Achievement Award is an individual who benefited from the experience of intercollegiate competition, went on to great accomplishments, and has made significant contributions to his community.”
The ITA Achievement Award winner is determined by a distinguished award selection panel. The members of the panel are: tennis legends Chris Evert & Stan Smith; Alan Schwartz, a Past-President of the USTA; David Dinkins, Former Mayor of New York City; Former Senator John Breaux (D-LA) & 1995 ITA Achievement Award recipient; Mark Stenning, Executive Director of the International Tennis Hall of Fame; John Fry, President of Drexel University, and David Benjamin, ITA Executive Director.