Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte Named Perkins Bass Visitor

The Rockefeller Center program brings distinguished New Hampshire leaders to Dartmouth.

Kelly Ayotte, who represented New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate from 2011 to 2016 and was the first woman to serve as the state’s attorney general, is the 2018 Perkins Bass Distinguished Visitor at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy.

Named for longtime New Hampshire U.S. Congressman Perkins Bass, Class of 1934, the distinguished visitors program invites New Hampshire citizens who have made outstanding contributions in government to share their experiences with the Dartmouth community.


Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (Photo by Erika Nizborski)

“I am honored to be coming to Dartmouth as a Perkins Bass visitor and to have the opportunity to engage with students about the importance of public service and civic dialogue,” Ayotte says.

Andrew Samwick, the Sandra L. and Arthur L. Irving '72a P'10 Professor of Economics and director of the Rockefeller Center, says it is a privilege to welcome Ayotte to campus.

“She has always been generous with her time in talking with students. The Perkins Bass visitorship will offer students an even greater opportunity to engage with this experienced policymaker. As a recognized expert on foreign policy, private sector revitalization, and tax reform, Sen. Ayotte will be able to provide students a real-life glimpse into work that spans both the private and public sector.”

A Republican, Ayotte was reappointed twice as New Hampshire attorney general by then-Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat. In the Senate, Ayotte served on the budget, homeland security and governmental affairs, and small business and entrepreneurship committees, and she chaired the armed services subcommittee on readiness. As a lawmaker, Ayotte was part of a circle of Republican senators led by Lindsey Graham and John McCain. After completing one term in the Senate, Ayotte served as a good-will guide to President Donald Trump’s then supreme court nominee Neil Gorsuch as he made courtesy calls on senators.

“As our country becomes more divided along party lines, it is important to have forums where people of different viewpoints can come together and discuss their ideas on the merits in an atmosphere of mutual respect,” Ayotte says. “I look forward to discussing important public policy issues with the students at Dartmouth, sharing my experiences, and learning from them.”

Lynch, who came to Dartmouth as the inaugural Perkins Bass Fellow in 2013 after four terms as New Hampshire’s governor, applauded this year’s choice.

“Kelly Ayotte has devoted a great deal of her life to public service, having served as New Hampshire attorney general and U.S. senator from New Hampshire.  She has served the people of New Hampshire well, and we all appreciate so much all that she has done,” says Lynch, a senior fellow at the Center for Business, Government, and Society at the Tuck School of Business.

Lynch says a benefit of the Perkins Bass endowment “is that it gives students the opportunity to engage with distinguished visitors both in and out of the classroom. Students get the chance to discuss and debate issues which are important to our state and our country, and indeed, the world.”

Ayotte’s Perkins Bass schedule will begin Feb. 19 with a visit to Rockefeller Center Associate Director Ronald Shaiko’s class “Introduction to Public Policy,” followed by a student lunch. Ayotte will also participate in class visits and other events during the spring term, and will deliver a public lecture as the Rockefeller Center’s Constitution Day speaker on Sept. 17.

As Dartmouth’s fifth Perkins Bass visitor, Ayotte follows Lynch; former New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick; former Speaker of the New Hampshire House Terie Norelli; and former CEO and President of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation Lewis Feldstein.

The Perkins Bass Visitorship Program is supported by the Perkins Bass 1934 Fund, which was established in April 2012. The fund also supports internships for Dartmouth students working in public affairs in New Hampshire.