Yale Alumni in U.S. Politics

With his decision to serve as legal adviser to the U.S. Department of State, Yale Law School dean Harold Hongju Koh continues a tradition of commitment to government or public service that has distinguished the University for three centuries. (See related story.)

A number of Yale alumni have been appointed to serve in President Barack Obama’s new administration, and others have served on his transition team. These appointments include Gary Locke ‘72, the newly named 36th secretary of commerce; Austan Goolsbee ‘91, staff director and chief economist of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board; Hillary Rodham Clinton LAW ‘73, the 67th U.S. secretary of state; and Gregory Craig LAW ‘73, the White House counsel to the president.

Yale faculty members are also sharing their insight and expertise in advisory roles to the president. For instance, Yale’s chief investment officer David Swensen, who is also an adjunct professor at the Yale School of Management and a lecturer in economics, was recently appointed by Obama to the newly established Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Five Yale alumni have served as U.S. presidents, most recently George W.
Bush ‘68, the nation’s 43rd president. Two alumni currently serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. In earlier days in the nation’s history, 25 Yale graduates served in the Continental Congress and four signed the Declaration of Independence.

Below is a by-the-numbers look at Yale men and women in public service.

• 17 Yale Law School graduates have been appointed to positions in the Obama administration;

• More than 40 Yale alumni and faculty members participated in the new administration’s transition team;

• 16 graduates have served on the U.S. Supreme Court, including current justices Clarence Thomas LAW ‘74 and Samuel Alito LAW ‘75;

• 5 graduates have been presidents of the United States: William Howard Taft (1878), Gerald Ford LAW ‘41, George H.W. Bush ‘48, Bill Clinton LAW ‘73 and George W. Bush ‘68.

• 8 alumni are sitting U.S. senators: Michael F. Bennett LAW ‘73, Sherrod
Brown ‘74, John Kerry ‘66, Amy Klobuchar ‘82, Joseph Lieberman ‘64, LAW ‘67, Bill Nelson ‘65, Arlen Spector LAW ‘56, and Sheldon Whitehouse ‘78;

• 52 alumni, including Gary Hart LAW ‘64 and John Ashcroft ‘64, have formerly served as U.S. senators;

• 12 alumni currently serve in the U.S. House of Representatives;

• More than 23 graduates, including Sargent Shriver ‘38, LAW ‘41, and five-time ambassador John D. Negroponte ‘60 (newly named as a research fellow and lecturer in international affairs at the University), have been stationed around the globe as ambassadors of the United States.

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