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Jana Wilson
School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Thursday, September 3, 2009

School of Public and Environmental Affairs to host IU alumnus Paul O'Neill

Sept. 3, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Paul H. O'Neill will visit Bloomington and Indianapolis Sept. 15-16 as a guest of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

O'Neill, who has a Master of Public Affairs degree from Indiana University, was secretary of the treasury under President George W. Bush from early 2001 until December 2002. He was deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1974 to 1977. He also has been a widely respected leader in the business and nonprofit sectors, having headed Alcoa Inc. and International Paper and served as chairman of the RAND Corp.

He will take part in several events in Indiana, providing insight into the workings of the public and private sectors and touching on topics such as health care and environmental policy:

  • On Sept. 15, he will meet with students and faculty at IU Bloomington and will speak on "Energy and the Environment: Global Solution for National Problems," at 4 p.m. in the SPEA Atrium, 1315 E. 10th St. in Bloomington. The talk is free and open to the public.
  • On Sept. 16, he will take part in an Indiana University-Purdue University faculty roundtable and join SPEA students at IUPUI for pizza. He also will address the annual meeting of the Indiana Hospital Association in Indianapolis.

"SPEA takes great pride in welcoming Paul O'Neill, one of Indiana University's most accomplished alumni," said John D. Graham, dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. "His career is a testament to the importance of smart policy and sound science in effective leadership."

O'Neill said the focus of his talks will be on the lessons he has learned about leadership and how to tap that potential for greatness.

Known as an outspoken pragmatist, O'Neill began his government career nearly 50 years ago as a systems analyst in the Veterans Administration. He was an official with the Office of Management and Budget in the Nixon and Ford administrations and chaired an advisory group on education for President George H.W. Bush.

From 1987 to 1999, O'Neill was chairman and CEO of Alcoa Inc., a Pittsburgh-based industrial giant that had more than 140,000 employees worldwide.

As a member of the Bush cabinet in 2001-02, O'Neill clashed with the president's political advisers over the need for a second round of tax cuts, environmental regulation, and other issues. After leaving office, he said the administration had made decisions on the basis of ideology, not data and analysis. His criticisms of the administration were captured in the 2004 book The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill, by Ron Suskind.

O'Neill earned his MPA degree from IU in 1966, through an academic program that was a forerunner of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.