College President Sheila Bair, who in her former position as chair of the FDIC helped lead the agency through one of the worst financial crises in the country’s history, was honored last week at a ceremony naming an auditorium after her. The all-star event on Oct. 14 dedicated the Sheila C. Bair Auditorium at the agency’s L. William Seidman Center in Arlington, Virginia.
Photo: (L to R) Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Thomas M. Hoenig, FDIC vice chairman, Sheila Bair, president of Washington College and former FDIC chair, Martin J. Gruenberg, current FDIC chair, and Thomas J. Curry, Comptroller of the Currency. Photo courtesy of the FDIC.
“Chairman Bair was a strong leader who led the FDIC during one of the most difficult times in the agency’s history,” FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg said. “Under her leadership, the FDIC protected depositors, worked to stabilize the financial system, and promoted the strengthening of regulatory standards for financial institutions. Her legacy continues at the FDIC and we are grateful for her service.”
Along with Gruenberg, all of the FDIC’s current board members spoke at the event, commending Bair for her years of public service, particularly for her leadership during the recent financial crisis. Bair was the 19th chairman of the FDIC, serving from June 2006 until July 2011.
“Sheila’s leadership and courage during the financial crisis is hard to compare,” said Thomas M. Hoenig, vice chairman of the FDIC. “She led efforts to ensure that the largest firms could be resolved without government support, and against international opposition she proposed strengthening capital standards when no one else would take on such a challenge. She has made a tremendous contribution to improving global financial stability.”
Appointed to the FDIC by President George W. Bush, Bair was one of the first officials to warn about the damage the growing subprime mortgage crisis would pose to millions of homeowners and the economy at large. Consumer advocates praised her relentless efforts to represent the interests of homeowners, bank customers, and taxpayers, and Time magazine called her “the little guy’s protector in chief.” She helped shape and implement the Dodd-Frank Act, which gave the FDIC expanded power to “wind down” rather than bail out a failing bank, and created the Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion in an effort to bring banking services to underserved populations.
Her tenacity, independence, and leadership earned her the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award, and the Better Business Bureau’s Presidents’ Award. Forbes twice named her the second most powerful woman in the world, behind Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. Bair became president of Washington College in September 2015, and since then has made college affordability and access priorities of her administration.