The chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is preparing to deliver a lecture Monday at Kansas University, the institution where she spent several years attending lectures on her way to earning two degrees.
Sheila Bair, who received her KU bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1975 and a law degree in 1978, will discuss subprime mortgages, payday loans and the financial literacy of saving, spending and not wasting money as part of her 2007 Fall Chandler Lecture, set for 7 p.m. at the Lied Center.
The lecture, organized by KU's School of Business, is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.
Bair started her five-year term as FDIC chairwoman in June 2006, as the agency had 86 offices, 4,500 employees and responsibility for insuring $2.8 trillion in deposits in 8,800 banks and savings and loans nationwide.
Since then, the nation's economy has taken a hit, slogging through a credit crunch spurred by home foreclosures and other financial difficulties. Among the most critical: a record number of defaults on subprime mortgages, which are loans that were granted to borrowers with risky credit.
The subprime credit crunch has shaken financial markets, led to losses of thousands of jobs for mortgage companies and led other lenders to tighten standards for granting loans. Other investment sectors also have been rattled by the subprime difficulties.
The FDIC, overseen by Bair and four other commissioners, was established by Congress in 1933 to restore public confidence in the nation's banking system. Bair is the 19th person to lead the agency's board, moving into the office vacated by Donald Powell, who resigned in November 2005 to lead the federal government's efforts rebuilding the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.
Bair is no stranger to federal work. Upon graduation from law school at KU, she became an attorney and adviser at the Department of Education. Since then her postings included serving as a counsel to then-Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and at a Washington law firm; commissioner and acting chairwoman of the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission; legislative counsel and senior vice president for government relations at the New York Stock Exchange; and assistant treasury secretary for financial institutions.
Bair served on the FDIC's Advisory Committee on Banking Policy before becoming chairwoman.
SmartMoney magazine last year named Bair to the publication's "Smart 30" list, ranking her among the 30 most influential people in investing. She also has been honored for her educational writings on money and finance for children, including items for Highlights magazine for Children. Her first book - "Rock, Brock and the Savings Shock," a publication for children - was published last year.
Bair will be the 11th lecturer in the Anderson Chandler Lecture Series, which began in 1997. The lecture series is made possible by KU business alumnus Anderson Chandler, who is chief executive officer, president and director of Fidelity State Bank and Trust Company of Topeka and vice president and director of First Bank of Newton. Chandler also serves on the School of Business Board of Advisors.