Key White House aide Ben Rhodes to visit Indiana University on April 6 and 7

  • April 4, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Ben Rhodes, a top aide to President Barack Obama, will visit the Indiana University Bloomington campus Sunday and Monday, April 6 and 7, at the invitation of his former boss, Lee Hamilton, director of IU’s Center on Congress.

Rhodes is assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and speechwriting. A 2013 profile in The New York Times described him as a man with “a soft voice, strong opinions and a reputation around the White House as the man who channels Mr. Obama on foreign policy.”

Rhodes was a senior speechwriter for the Obama presidential campaign in 2008, then served as deputy director of White House speechwriting before moving into his current post.

Prior to joining Obama, Rhodes worked for five years as special assistant to Hamilton when the former Indiana congressman was director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Rhodes helped draft the 2004 recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, of which Hamilton was vice chairman, and the 2006 report of the Iraq Study Group, which Hamilton co-chaired.

In 2011, Rhodes was on Time magazine’s "40 Under 40" list of powerful and prominent young professionals. A native of New York City, Rhodes has a Bachelor of Arts from Rice University and a Master of Fine Arts from New York University.

Rhodes’ itinerary in Bloomington is designed to give students a chance to visit with him in small-group and classroom settings. No public events are scheduled.

"This will be a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn from and converse with someone who is working at the highest level in the executive branch, helping shape and communicate American foreign policy," Hamilton said. 

Rhodes’ visit is supported with funding from IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, where Hamilton serves as a professor of practice.

On the evening of April 6, Rhodes is slated for an informal Q&A session over pizza with public policy, journalism and business students. On April 7, he will make remarks and take questions at a breakfast with students from the Hutton Honors College, the Wells Scholars Program, the Political and Civic Engagement program and the School of Journalism.

Rhodes’ next stop is an undergraduate class in writing for public affairs at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Finally, he will speak to and answer questions from a combined group -- an international studies class on "Identity & Conflict" and a media/journalism class, "Conflict, Terrorism and Humanitarian Intervention."

About the Center on Congress

The Center on Congress is a nonpartisan, educational institution established in 1999 to help improve the public's knowledge of Congress and to encourage civic engagement. The center developed out of Lee Hamilton's recognition during his 34 years in the U.S. House that Americans should be more familiar with Congress’s strengths and weaknesses, its role in our system of government, and its impact on the lives of ordinary people every day.

An innovator in using technology to make civics instruction interesting and relevant to young people, the center offers Web-based interactive modules, apps for the iPad, and other online learning tools in English and Spanish. Hamilton writes twice-monthly commentaries for newspapers, and the center’s portfolio includes booklets and books on Congress and citizenship; video and television in the classroom resources; survey research; teacher awards; and seminars, conferences and a lecture series.

The Center on Congress is supported in part by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at IU Bloomington.

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Wayne Vance

Assistant director

  • Center on Congress
  • Office 812-856-4706