How did you get involved with Canadian Studies at Berkeley?
After getting my bachelor’s degree, I went straight to Berkeley for my M.B.A. I landed at International House in January 1965 when the place was resonating with the Free Speech Movement. Many years later, I volunteered as an alumni rep for Haas. After needling them about Canadian content, they introduced me to Canadian Studies founder Tom Barnes, who asked me to chair the campaign for a professor of Canadian Studies.
How have you seen the program develop?
We hit the campaign out of the ballpark thanks to Dr. Hildebrand of Fresno, originally from Canada. Another board member, Brad Barber, introduced us. It turned out Dr. Hildebrand was from a small town near where I grew up – we Saskatchewan people venerate these little burgs! Working with Dr. Barnes, Nelson Graburn, and Irene, I’ve continued on the board of the program, having lost count of the number of trips from Calgary to San Francisco. Irene is doing a great job. I appreciated her bringing Michael Benarroch, now the president of the University of Manitoba, to explain how Canada avoided the 2008/09 subprime meltdown, because comparative capital markets is an area I am researching.
Why do you believe exchange between Canada and the US is important?
We Canadians can be guilty of simplistic generalizations with respect to the United States. I often say that the U.S. may be ten times larger than Canada, but it’s a hundred times more complicated. We ignore keeping abreast of events there at our peril. Conversely, I tell folks at UC Berkeley that while it is arguably the best public research university west of the Mississippi, that sphere of interest and influence should include Western Canada.
What important trends do you see in education more generally?
Academia is becoming more interdisciplinary. I’ve been able to take advantage of that by joining the advisory board of the Clausen Center, a venue at Berkeley where macroeconomists and central bankers exchange ideas. As the world has become more interconnected, I’ve become an advocate of broader financial literacy. Finance needn’t be mysterious or boring. I’ve crossed paths with Michael Lewis, who lives in Berkeley. He wrote The Big Short, which uses over-the-top humour to describe the sub-prime meltdown of 2008/09, and was made into a good movie, which I highly recommend to those who aren’t familiar with the industry and want to understand that fiasco.