Graduate Alum Profile
ROBERT C. ORR
MPA '92, PhD '96
Assistant Secretary–General for Policy and Planning
United Nations, New York, NY
A leading authority on nation-building, peace operations, and counter-terrorism, Robert Orr was named Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations in August 2004. Working directly in the U.N. Secretary-General's office, he is in charge of policy and planning for the United Nations.
He previously served as a White House Fellow, the director of Global and Multilateral Affairs at the National Security Council, a deputy to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the director of the USUN Washington Office, director of the Washington Program for the Council on Foreign Relations--one of the nation's premier foreign policy organizations--and as director of the Belfer Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. At the request of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, in the summer of 2003 Orr was a member of a five-person delegation that conducted the first independent review of post-conflict operations in Iraq.
Orr chose to attend the Woodrow Wilson School because of its academic rigor and depth of courses in the international arena: "Princeton was the best school for what I wanted, and the Woodrow Wilson School has had a profound influence on my career direction." His interests in economic development, political change, and conflict resolution were nurtured by the School, and he credits various professors, such as Atul Kohli, with helping him formulate and achieve his career goals.
His advice to prospective Ph.D. students: "Princeton provides the tools to do academic and practical work. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn how to combine these things--that's what will be required of you when you get out."