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Garten ’64 Served in Special Forces, Presidential Cabinet

Jeffrey Garten ’64 knew President George W. Bush as simply “a great friend to have” when the two were in the same class at Andover. Garten, the former Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade and former Dean of the Yale School of Management, knew the young Bush quite well when they were both students. “We were very good friends; he was great company,” Garten said, describing how the two would take trips to Fort Lauderdale in Florida during every spring vacation. “We played a lot of sports, but we weren’t jocks. But we weren’t considered great scholars either,” said Garten, who was a Phillipian Sports Editor and president of the Philomathean Society while at Andover. But he had no idea who his friend would eventually become, saying that no one could have anticipated Bush’s rise to the nation’s highest office. However, the ties of adolescent friendship haven’t prevented Garten, a former official in President Clinton’s cabinet, from finding issues with Bush’s presidency. “A lot of the ideas he discussed during the campaign were quite compatible with my thinking. I was a conservative Democrat, he a liberal Republican. But only after he took office, and really after September 11, did our views diverge,” Garten said. Garten has prior experience working with presidents who have seen their approval ratings fall while in office. His first job was with the Nixon and Ford administrations, advising Henry Kissinger on economic policy after graduating with a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. “I had written things in grad school that were of great interest to the State Department,” Garten said. Garten specialized in international and world economics while in public office, which drove him to his eventual career choice. Garten was also a logical choice for government due to his four years of service in the 82nd Airborne Divison in the Special Forces of the United States Army. Garten attended Dartmouth College on an ROTC scholarship before serving in Thailand during the Vietnam War. “I never saw myself working in government as a career,” Garten said. “I decided to go to Wall Street because I was fascinated by people who had moved back and forth between Wall Street and Washington. It was a big thing during the Roosevelt Administration and early Cold War era.” Garten took a position at Lehman Brothers, a global financial services company, because the firm actively recruited ex-government officials. During his 12 years at Lehman Brothers, Garten focused on targeting emerging markets. He ran the company’s Asian operations based in Tokyo, and he also did extensive business in Latin America. In 1985, Garten left Lehman Brothers, along with several other individuals, to become a managing director of the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm now among the nation’s most powerful companies. Garten eventually left Blackstone in 1993 to join the Commerce Department under Clinton, as his time at both Blackstone and Lehman Brothers had gained him attention as a source on world economics. “I was very happy on Wall Street, but a lot of people with whom I had worked joined the Clinton campaign and urged me to do the same. I was writing op-eds quite prolifically for The New York Times then, and I was considered one of the most knowledgeable people about Japan,” he said. When Garten entered office, he made focusing on 10 emerging markets – most notably among them, China – his chief priority. “In 1993, China was a backwater. So were India and Brazil. No one thought that any of those countries could be on the economic map 10 years later,” Garten said. But Garten’s time with Clinton was short-lived. He received a call out of the blue in 1995 offering him the position of Dean of the Yale School of Management (SOM), a business school which was struggling at the time. “I got a call saying that there was this business school at Yale that had never taken off; they tried to find someone from the business world who also had a Ph. D – Yale can be a very academic place – to lift the school to another level,” Garten said. Garten took the position amidst discontented professors and academics who were upset about a non-professor taking the reins at SOM. Garten held the position for 10 years, until 2005, when he decided to write and teach at Yale. He is also chairman of Garten Rothkopf, an investment advisory firm. Garten still writes weekly for Newsweek International, and he spends four to five hours each day working on a new book about 10 people who shaped the world economy. His publisher has planned a mass-market release. Garten also appears on his wife Ina’s Food Network cooking show, “Barefoot Contessa”. “I was fortunate to be married very young to a girl who couldn’t boil water,” Garten said. “And now she’s one of the best-known cooks in the United States. Stimulation in life depends a lot on who you wind up with.”

Oct 16, 2007