Christina Romer, an ’81 alumna and one of the most influential economists in the nation as President Barack Obama’s Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, will address graduates during the 2010 commencement exercises at the College of William & Mary.
In addition to Romer, Annette Gordon-Reed -- one of the country’s leading presidential scholars and winner of a 2009 Pulitzer Prize -- and former Secretary of Treasury Paul O’Neill will also receive honorary degrees at the ceremony, which will be held at noon in William & Mary Hall on May 16, 2010.
William & Mary Chancellor and retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will also be in attendance and deliver remarks at the ceremony.
“William & Mary is very fortunate to have Christina Romer among our graduates,” said President Taylor Reveley. “In this time of economic uncertainty and peril, she has been a true and steady hand for President Obama and the nation. We look forward to welcoming her to campus once again. We also welcome Annette Gordon-Reed, one of the country’s most respected presidential scholars. It’s fitting for her to receive an honorary degree from the alma mater of a nation. We will honor as well former Secretary O’Neill, whose many years as a corporate giant and dedicated public servant provide a shining example of accomplishment and integrity.”
Romer, who received her undergraduate degree in economics from William & Mary, was named as one of the early members to Obama’s financial recovery team following the 2008 presidential election. As chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Romer is a member of the President’s Cabinet and intimately involved in developing the president’s plan for recovery from the financial crisis. In announcing her appointment in November 2008, then President-elect Obama called Romer “one of the foremost experts on economic crises – and how to solve them.”
Before heading to the nation’s capital, Romer spent 10 years as the Class of 1957-Garff B. Wilson Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Previously she taught economics and public affairs as an assistant professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Among her many honors, Romer is the recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Young Investigator Award, and the Distinguished Teaching Award at Berkeley.
Prior to her presidential appointment, she was co-director of the Program in Monetary Economics at the National Bureau of Economic Research and served as vice president of the American Economic Association. She has also been a visiting scholar on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
Romer, who received her Ph. D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is widely known for her research on the Great Depression and the volatile economy of the 1930s and 40s. More recently, she worked with her husband (Berkeley economics professor David Romer) on the impact of tax policy on government and economic growth.
Romer, who was known during her undergraduate days as Christy Duckworth, also remains deeply connected to her alma mater. Shortly after taking office, she returned to Williamsburg last May at the invitation of the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy to deliver a lecture on the financial crisis. She also sat down with the Alumni Association to discuss the impact of her William & Mary education.
Gordon-Reed has been a professor of history at Rutgers and since 1992 has taught law at New York Law School where she continues her work as a scholar and author of presidential history, particularly the life of Thomas Jefferson. In 2009, she won a Pulitzer Prize in history for her book, “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.” It also won a 2008 National Book Award for nonfiction from the National Book Foundation and the 2009 Frederick Douglass Book Prize. Her first book, “Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy,” was published in 1997 and called “brilliant” by The New Yorker. In 2001, Gordon-Reed co-authored “Vernon Can Read! A Memoir” with longtime civil rights leader and presidential confidant Vernon Jordan. In her most recent book, “Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History,” Gordon-Reed edits 12 original essays on the subject of race and its influence in the criminal justice system. On February 24, President Obama presented Gordon-Reed with a 2009 National Humanities Medal.
Prior to joining the faculty at New York Law School, Gordon-Reed worked as an associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel and as counsel to the New York City Board of Corrections. She received her undergraduate degree in history from Dartmouth College and her law degree from Harvard Law School. From July 2005 to June 2008, she served on the Council for W&M's Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.
O’Neill began his career in government service in 1961 under President John F. Kennedy and continued to work in the administrations of Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He finished his government service in 1977 as Deputy Director of the Office of Budget and Management . In 2001, he was appointed the nation’s 72nd Secretary of Treasury by President George W. Bush and served until 2002.
Before becoming Secretary of Treasury, O’Neill was chairman and chief-operating officer of Alcoa where he led more than 140,000 world-wide employees. He has also served on a wide variety of national committees, including the American Red Cross, Committee for Economic Development, Joint Council on Economic Education, Peterson Institute for International Economics and the National Leadership Commission on Healthcare.
In March 2009, O’Neill visited William & Mary and was a guest professor in the Executive MBA program at William & Mary’s Mason School of Business. He received his undergraduate degree in economics from California State University, Fresno, an economics degree from Claremont Graduate University and a master’s degree in public administration from Indiana University.