Conrad is a 1980 graduate of Clemson, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in history with a German minor. He was awarded the 1980 Norris Medal, the highest honor awarded at graduation. He was an Academic All-American and also a standout in athletics; starting as point guard on the basketball team that finished in the Elite Eight of the 1980 NCAA Tournament.
Conrad earned his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1983 and proceeded to carve out a legendary legal career that took him from the Upstate to the White House. He was selected by Attorney General Janet Reno to be the chief of her Campaign Financing Task Force in 2000. That same year he became the first lawyer to question in the same week a seated U.S. President and Vice President (Clinton and Gore) under oath. In 2001 his office successfully prosecuted the first trial of giving material support to a terrorist organization (Hezbollah) in the U.S. President George W. Bush nominated him as U.S. Attorney for Western North Carolina in 2001. As U.S. Attorney, he served on Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Advisory Committee. In 2005, he was confirmed by the Senate to a position as U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of North Carolina.
Conrad has proven to be an outstanding ambassador for Clemson. He currently serves on Clemson’s Letterwinners Board of Directors, and was a member of President Barker’s Advisory Committee. He regularly mentors law students who are Clemson graduates, and has attended Clemson Club meetings in Charlotte, Rock Hill and Washington D.C. He was selected to Clemson’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993 and was chosen as one of Clemson’s All Time Top Twenty-Five players in 2013.
“I have come to this clear conclusion: Judge Robert Conrad has earned the Distinguished Service Award,” said Clemson president emeritus James F. Barker in his letter of nomination. “He has served his country with distinction. He has served his community with distinction. He has served his profession with distinction. And he has served our alma mater with distinction.”
Conrad and his wife, Ann, live in Charlotte. They have five children, two of whom, Bobby (2004) and Carrie (2010) are Clemson graduates.