Pete Rouse

Honorary Degree Citation

Peter Rouse

Peter M. Rouse. The Fixer. You came to Colby from New Haven, Connecticut, where your father was professor of anthropology at Yale and your mother taught in the university’s Institute for Oriental Languages. You majored in history, covered sports for the Echo, and were a standout third baseman. After graduating in 1968 you earned master’s degrees from the London School of Economics and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. You began your government work as an aide to South Dakota Senator James Abourezk but were drawn to Alaska, where your Japanese immigrant grandparents had raised their family. You served as chief of staff to the state’s lieutenant governor for four years, then returned to Washington to take up the same role for Senator Dick Durbin. Your 19 years as chief of staff to Senator Tom Daschle included his turn as Senate Majority Leader, and you were dubbed “the one hundred first Senator” for your extraordinary knowledge of Congress and its workings. In 2004, newly elected Senator Barack Obama convinced you to join his team. He said of you, “My chief of staff … is as well connected and as well known and as popular and as smart and as savvy a person as there is on Capitol Hill. But is completely ego-free.” All of those traits have combined to make you an irreplaceable asset in the Obama presidency. At the White House, you have been senior advisor to the President, chief of staff—the first Asian American to serve in that capacity—and, since 2011, counselor to the President. “There’s a slogan around the White House,” your boss said in tribute to your ability to get the hard things done: “‘Let’s let Pete fix it.'” 

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Peter M. Rouse, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you eligible.

Conferred May 26, 2013

More about Pete Rouse:

Known as the “101st Senator” for his extensive knowledge of the United States Congress, Pete Rouse ’68 served as chief of staff to members of Congress for more than 30 years. Currently he is counselor to President Barack Obama, having previously served as White House chief of staff and as a senior advisor. He was a co-chair of the Obama-Biden Transition Project, a senior advisor to President Obama’s campaign, and chief of staff to then-Senator Obama. Before joining President Obama’s Senate office in 2004, he was chief of staff to former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota for 19 years.

Obama’s Right Hand | Colby magazine, Winter 2011
Obama Names Rouse ’68 Chief of Staff | Colby magazine, Fall 2010


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