Mitchell Reiss has worked in foreign policy for decades. He served as the director of policy planning at the State Department under Colin Powell, as Special Envoy for the Northern Ireland Peace Process from 2003 to 2007, and as an advisor to Governor Mitt Romney on national security issues during the 2008 campaign. Now the president of Washington College, situated comfortably in small-town Maryland just over an hour from the nation’s capital, Dr. Reiss granted Bellum an interview in his office in late April.
“This is a more difficult job than the ones I’ve held in government,” he said without hesitation. He described a jam-packed day that included several on-campus events — the first at 7 o’clock in the morning, the last at 5 o’clock in the evening — and then a panel discussion in Washington. The students, faculty, donors, parents, and local community present a formidable “array of constituencies that you have to be mindful of,” he explained, and unlike in government, where very few positions don’t have you reporting directly up a chain of command, as a college president “you are the final line of authority.”