Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich lends new luster to the term Renaissance man. During his time in government, he served in three national administrations, including President Bill Clinton's, for which Time Magazine named Reich one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. In addition, Reich was an advisor to President Barack Obama; and worked for Presidents Carter and Ford. Currently, Reich is a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He's also directed several Netflix documentaries and published 18 books on topics like inequality and the modern economy. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-founder of Inequality Media, a non-profit organization aimed at educating the public on various issues. In 2003, Reich was awarded the prestigious Vaclav Havel Vision Foundation Prize, by the former Czech president, for his pioneering work in economic and social thought.
Reich first began to develop a reputation as a human dynamo during his undergraduate years at Dartmouth in the mid-1960s. Although not much of an athlete, he served as the cox of the freshman crew and occasionally wrestled at the intramural level. Social and academic success came easier. At Dartmouth, Reich was president of his class during his freshman, sophomore, and junior years. Later, during his senior year, he was president of the Undergraduate Council. The indefatigable young man also served as an A.B.C. tutor, WDCR director, and chairman of Palaeopitus. Nor did his academics suffer. A top student, Reich was a winner of the oratorical prize, a Frost playwrighting prize, and the award for outstanding undergraduate. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, he graduated summa cum laude in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth.
Over the years, Reich has returned to his alma mater, trailing clouds of glory. In 1986 he was the subject of an Alumni Magazine cover story at Dartmouth. Then in 1988, he was nominated by the Alumni Council to serve a five-year term as Alumni Trustee. He has also returned numerous times to speak at the university, going back to 1983 and continuing all the way through October 2020, when Reich participated in a virtual event sponsored by the school. Titled "Breaking the Mold: A Conversation with Robert Reich," the former star pupil spoke to students about his career and his journey from Dartmouth to the White House. During the talk, Reich also discussed the importance of young people recognizing their ability to create change during troubled times. “You are inheriting a mess. You are inheriting a world that desperately needs your energy. You are going to have great, great opportunities to make things much better.”