Hoenig Visit 2015 | Benedictine College

FDIC Co-Chair Addresses Students at Benedictine College

Published: Thursday, November 12, 2015

Benedictine College welcomed prominent alumnus Thomas M. Hoenig back to campus Nov. 2.

Hoenig has been Vice Chairman of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) since 2012. Before that, he was chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City since 1991.

He spoke twice on campus, once at the Leadership: Values and Vision class led by President Stephen D. Minnis and Dean of Students Dr. Joseph Wurtz, and once to a student business club at Benedictine College which is named for him.

To introduce him, President Minnis shared photos of his career, including feature stories citing his influence on the economy which appeared in Time and Businessweek magazines as well as The New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.

Hoenig recalled his years at the school.

“Benedictine College was one of the great experiences of my life,” he said. “This college opened up enormous opportunities. I can’t ever repay Benedictine adequately for what it has done for me.”

He gave the school credit for his career. “I have traveled most of the world. I have encountered individuals who are economists from very famous organizations business people who are well educated. Never once have I been intimidated by them, in terms of my abilities and in my education,” he said. “Benedictine College is a great foundation. It has served me well.”

Hoenig served on the Benedictine College Board of Directors for more than 12 years, and was the Chair for eight. He has received the college’s highest awards: the Kansas Monk Award and the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict, and an Honorary Degree.

Leadership: Vision and Values

The President and Dean of Students’ leadership class brings leaders from all walks of life to campus to discuss the keys to being an effective leader. In the past, the class has featured bestelling author Patrick Lencioni, Royals General Manager Dayton Moore and business leader Mary Carol Garrity.

Hoenig spoke to the class about the values that built his strong career.

“There are four ingredients to leadership, if you will,” Hoenig said, and listed Intelligence, knowledge, judgment and, most important, courage.

“The first thing you have to be willing to do is have the courage to lead,” he said. “When you’re alone, and you’re making a decision, and you have different people telling you what the outcome will be if you make the wrong decision, the decision they’re not recommending to you, courage is of paramount importance.”

International Business Insights

He spoke again that evening at an event sponsored by the Student International Business Council at Benedictine College.

Benedictine College senior Josh Linton, a Finance and Economics major, opened the program on behalf of the campus’ Thomas M. Hoenig chapter of the Council.

President Minnis introduced the keynote, saying Hoenig arrived in Kansas City from Malaysia in order to speak on campus. While there, he was elected as the president and chairman of the Executive Council of the International Association of Deposit Insurers. This additional position does not change his FDIC duties, but it does give him greater impact over the world economy.

He demonstrated the Midwestern economic values he is famous for, saying, “They say no institution can fail. I say nonsense.”

He put the world economy on par with other international issues. “We have issues on a global scale militarily, we have issues on a global scale diplomatically,” he said, “and we have issues on a global scale financially.”

He saw the interest rate at the heart of global instability.  “Zero interest rates in the United Sates meant our currency was devalued,” he said. “It helped our economy and put pressure on world economies. These economies followed by imitating what we had done. We did not overtly engage in a currency war, but the effect was the same. The distribution of income in the world is affected by that.”

He argued that current banking structures favored giant financial institutions at the expense of smaller ones, and created disincentives for savings. He saw both trends as deeply troubling.

Minnis said the presentation by Hoenig was valuable for showing students how high they can reach.

“The theme for this year is ‘Called to Greatness,’” he said. “Seeing a Raven who has reached the top echelons of his field such as Tom Hoenig is a valuable lesson for our students. Each and every one of us is capable of reaching higher than we tend to think — and some of them are called to leave a legacy on par with an alumnus like Tom Hoenig.”

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.