Rouse Receives Centennial Medal from Harvard University

May 27 2016
By B. Rose Kelly
Source Woodrow Wilson School

Cecilia Rouse, dean of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, was among the four Harvard University alumni to receive the Centennial Medal on May 25.

Presented by Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), the medal is GSAS’s highest honor and recognizes alumni who have made extraordinary contributions to society.

Rouse’s primary research interests are in labor economics with a focus on the economics of education. She joined the faculty of Princeton in 1992 and has served as dean of the Woodrow Wilson School since 2012.

Rouse served as an economic advisor to the Clinton administration and on President Barack Obama’s three-member Council of Economic Advisers. She was an editor of the Journal of Labor Economics and is currently a senior editor of the Future of Children. She is the founding director of Princeton’s Education Research Section, a member of the National Academy of Education and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.  

While studying at Harvard, Rouse wrote a dissertation in economics that delved into a previously unexplored topic: the economic effects of attending community college versus a four-year college.

“She opened a completely new research area,” said Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics at Harvard and one of Rouse’s primary advisors. “Almost all research on the economics of higher education focused on four-year schools, and in her dissertation, she broke new ground in trying to understand the increasingly important role community colleges have played, particularly for disadvantaged and minority students.”

“There are economists who choose problems merely because they’re intellectually interesting,” said Lawrence Summers, Harvard’s Charles W. Eliot University Professor. “Ceci chooses problems because they are the real problems of our society. She is a model of the socially committed intellectual.”

The Centennial Medal was first awarded in 1989 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Graduate School’s founding. Since that time, 108 accomplished alumni have received the medal, which is awarded at a celebratory luncheon the day before Commencement.

Rouse joins three other award winners: Francis Fukuyama, David Mumford and John O’Malley. Click here to read more about the award and this year’s winners.