Alice Rivlin
Alice Rivlin receives an honorary degree from President Biddy Martin on May 24, 2015

Doctor of Humane Letters

Alice Rivlin is an economist who specializes in fiscal, monetary and health policy. The founding director of the Congressional Budget Office, Rivlin later served as vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board and, in Bill Clinton’s first administration, as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. She also chaired the “control board” that helped restore the District of Columbia to fiscal solvency. In 2010, President Barack Obama named Rivlin to the Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known as The Simpson-Bowles Commission. She co-chaired the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force and has worked to inform Millennials about debt reduction, even dancing in a “Harlem Shake” video urging young people to persuade government leaders to reduce the nation’s debt.

Rivlin was born in Philadelphia in 1931 and grew up in Bloomington, Ind. In 1952, after earning a bachelor’s degree in economics at Bryn Mawr College, where she wrote her senior thesis on the economic integration of Western Europe, Rivlin moved to Paris to work at the Marshall Plan agency. Although she was initially rejected from graduate school on the grounds that she was “a woman of marriageable age,” she went on to earn a Ph.D. in economics from Radcliffe in 1957.

Currently, Rivlin is director of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution, where she is also a senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program. She is a visiting professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. She has written several books, including Systematic Thinking for Social Action (1971), Reviving the American Dream: The Economy, the States & the Federal Government (1992) and Beyond the Dot.coms: The Economic Promise of the Internet (with Robert E. Litan, 2001). She co-edited the Brookings series “Restoring Fiscal Sanity,” which focused on the budget and health care spending.

Rivlin is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and winner of a MacArthur Fellowship and a Moynihan Prize. In 2008, the Council for Excellence in Government named her one of the greatest public servants of the last 25 years.


audio Hear talks given by the honorary degree recipients over Commencement Weekend.