F&M alumnus discusses his role shaping modern presidency, federal government

By Shira Kipnees ’15Staff Writer

Andrew M. Rouse ’49 gave a talk about his time working under President Richard Nixon and his role in helping to create the modern presidency in the Schnader Theatre in the Roschel Performing Arts Center last Wednesday, Jan. 29. Rouse is a former trustee of the College and is the founder of an endowed scholarship, the Rouse Scholarship.

The talk, which was filmed by C-SPAN, was part of a Nixon Legacy Forum and was titled “Creation of the Modern Presidency.” This series is meant to examine various foreign and domestic policy initiatives of the Nixon administration.

Rouse, who majored in history at F&M, described his time on the Ash Council—so-called because of its chairman, Roy Ash, president of Litton Industries in California and a notable fundraiser for Nixon—and how Rouse and his colleagues helped to reorganize the federal government.

Other members of the Ash Council included George Baker, dean of Harvard Business School; John Connally, three-term governor of Texas, who would later become Nixon’s Secretary of the Treasury; Fred Kappel, chairman of AT&T; Dick Paget, president of Cresap, McCormick and Paget; and Walter Thayer, president of Whitney Communications.

Rouse first entered government service as the head of strategic analysis in the former Bureau of the Budget. By 1969, he explained, the federal government had become very factional, with Cabinet members frequently making policy decisions without consulting the president.

“Over the years, a lot of conflicts arose between the departments because they were doing a lot of similar things but there were also a lot of conflicting ideas,” Rouse said. “The Bureau of the Budget was supposed to be purely for the budget, but it also did some legislative work. The President needed a staff that would allow him to carry out all the functions.”

The Ash Council had the goal to consolidate agencies in to organizations that made sense, and for departments to operate based on what they needed to do rather than on personalities. The council would often meet in Washington, D.C. or California and it would brief Nixon on its progress. Rouse said the meetings typically lasted all day and were frequently intense.

Rouse also mentioned that the President was concerned about the future of the GOP and of politics, especially in the South, a historic bastion of Democratic support.

“When Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned from the vice presidency, Nixon really wanted to pick Connolly as his vice president, but was told he couldn’t because Connolly switched parties and that wouldn’t work in a Democrat controlled Congress,” Rouse said.

After F&M, Rouse went to law school at Columbia University and began his career as a consultant with Arthur D. Little Company in Boston. After his time with the Council, Rouse went back to Arthur D. Little and later joined INA Corp. as executive vice president for strategic planning. He helped to integrate INA with Connecticut General Corp. to form CIGNA, one of the nation’s largest integrated insurance companies. Rouse has since retired from CIGNA, but still volunteers at the College, where he is a member of the Founders’ Society and a trustee emeritus who served from 1979 to 1994.

Rouse also created an endowed scholarship that bears his name, the Rouse Scholarship. Candidates for Rouse Scholarships—which cover tuition, books, and lab fees—must show significant leadership capability in areas such as the college houses, athletic teams, student government, musical or performing groups, fraternities and sororities, volunteer organizations, or student clubs. Successful candidates are expected to have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.4 or higher.

Junior Shira Kipnees is a staff writer. Her email is skipnees@fandm.edu.

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