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Alice Rivlin, economist and former U.S. Cabinet official, visited and lectured at IU Bloomington

March 26, 2012

Alice Rivlin, a member of President Barack Obama's bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, spoke at Indiana University Bloomington on Thursday, April 5.

Rivlin served as the first director of the Congressional Budget Office from 1975 to 1983. During the Clinton administration, she was director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1994 to 1996, becoming the first woman to hold the Cabinet-level position.

She served as governor and vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve from 1996 to 1999. She has outspokenly raised questions about the viability of U.S. federal deficits and the need for significant entitlement and tax reforms.

Her lecture began at 4:30 p.m. in the Godfrey Graduate and Executive Education Center of the IU Kelley School of Business. Also hosting Rivlin was the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

The event was sponsored by the Harvey C. Bunke MBA Business Ethics Workshop and is part of the SPEA Governance and Management Research Speaker Series. The title of her talk was "Debt, Leadership and Polarized Politics."

IU President Michael A. McRobbie met with Rivlin during her visit, and Rivlin also talked with faculty and students from Kelley and SPEA.

"It is truly a great honor for us to host Ms. Rivlin. She has played an integral role in some of the most important economic decisions affecting our country," said Dan Smith, dean of the Kelley School of Business. "She has long been one of our nation's thought leaders on the interface between government and the private sector. Given the current state of domestic and international economic conditions, I cannot imagine better timing for us to interact with Ms. Rivlin. I am confident that our faculty and students will come away with a richer understanding of the forces shaping our future economic outlook."

"We're honored to welcome her," added John D. Graham, dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. "Alice Rivlin is a key participant in the effort to curb the deficit and overhaul the tax code, just praised in The Washington Post as 'the budget wonk's budget wonk.'"

She was appointed by Obama to the Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, co-chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson. Two years ago, the commission recommended an overhaul of the U.S. tax code that would lower rates and raise net revenue in order the trim the deficit.

Rivlin also co-chaired with former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., the Bipartisan Policy Center's Task Force on Debt Reduction. From 1998 to 2001, she chaired the District of Columbia Financial Management Assistance Authority.

She grew up in Bloomington, and her connections to IU are deep. Her father was a professor of physics at the university and developed its first cyclotron. As a college student, Rivlin took a summer class at IU in economics, which persuaded her to change her major at Bryn Mawr College from history to economics.

A frequent contributor to newspapers and television news programs, Rivlin is a regular contributor to the "Nightly Business Report" on PBS. Her books include "Systematic Thinking for Social Action" (1971), "Reviving the American Dream" (1992) and "Beyond the Dot.coms" (2001). She is co-author of "Restoring Fiscal Sanity: How to Balance the Budget" (2004) and other books.

Rivlin now is a visiting professor at the Public Policy Institute of Georgetown University and a researcher at the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute (she led its Economic Studies Program from 1983 to 1987). She also has taught at Harvard, George Mason and The New School universities.

She has a bachelor's degree from Bryn Mawr College and a doctorate from Radcliffe College at Harvard University, both in economics.