Treasury chief returns to alma mater to take on Evanston Township high school students
Neal Wolin, acting secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department
Updated: April 8, 2013 7:09AM
EVANSTON — Evanston Township High School students did not pull any punches last week when the acting secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department visited.
The secretary, a 1979 graduate of ETHS, did not expect anything less.
“It was great,” Neal Wolin said. “They were very impressive. They asked really good questions about public service and careers. They also asked about what is going on in Washington, including the appropriate role and size of government. It was a whole lot of fun.”
Wolin visited an Advanced Placement Government class at ETHS on Feb. 26. ETHS officials did not allow the media to attend.
Wolin, who remembers ETHS fondly for its diversity and challenging academic programs, said he was delighted to engage students in the lively debate.
“I remember what a special place it is and was,” he said. “It was a very diverse, complicated place where you learned a lot inside the classrooms and learned a lot about the world and how it works in the halls, at lunch, and before and after school.”
Wolin later earned a bachelor of art’s degree from Yale University in 1983, a master’s degree in economics from Oxford University in 1985, and a law degree from Yale in 1988.
He came to Chicago to speak before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Feb. 25, but added ETHS and other stops to his visit.
Wolin chose ETHS because the dialogue he had with students provided a good example of themes President Obama and his administration have discussed in recent weeks, Wolin said.
“I wanted to come back and talk to some students, tell them a little about what it’s like to do public service,” he said. “It fits well with some of the things we’ve been talking about on a policy basis – the emphasis on education and learning and that all Americans get the opportunity to get skills and become productive members of society.”
Wolin outlined many of Obama’s economic strategies in his appearance before the CCGA, a nonpartisan group created to influence discourse on global issues through opinion and policy formation, leadership dialogue, and public learning.
Although the Treasury Department has a somewhat limited role in influencing the economy, it “touches a lot of different issue areas,” he said.
“We’re very focused on thinking about how to get the economy growing faster, creating jobs, engaging the middle class, investing in our economy in respect to infrastructure and education, and basic research and development,” Wolin said.