Henry Paulson is an American banker who served as the 74th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, where he led one of the biggest government bailouts in history. During his tenure, the 2008 financial crises hit, and many believe that a global depression was prevented by Paulson, who was the leading economic policy advisor to the country's sitting president.
Before joining the Treasury Department, Paulson spent the majority of his career at Goldman Sachs, serving as CEO since the firm's initial public offering in 1999. After leaving his government role, Paulson spent a year at Johns Hopkins University as a distinguished visiting fellow. In 2011 Paulson launched the formation of the Paulson Institute, an independent center dedicated to fostering international engagement. Over the years, the investment banker has used his skills for the non-profit sector as well, serving in top executive positions for a range of conservation and environmental initiatives, including Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Nature Conservancy.
In the 1960s, when Paulson was setting off for Dartmouth College, he wasn't thinking of becoming a CEO. Instead, he was telling his family that he hoped to become a forest ranger someday. By all accounts, Paulson did well at Dartmouth in every possible sense. He joined the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. And while playing on the school's football team, his bruising style of competitiveness earned him the chummy nickname, "Hank the Hammer." He became a starter his sophomore year and was an All-East offensive tackle during what were the glory years for Big Green football. After his final season, he received the New England Football Coaches Award as Offensive Lineman of the Year. In 1968 Paulson received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English, while being named Phi Beta Kappa and honorable mention All-American for football.
Despite the many obligations that come from being a world leader in finance, Paulson has still managed to return to his alma mater, seeing it as an opportunity to give back to the Dartmouth community. In 2007, he showed up for one of the biggest honors alumni can receive: being asked to deliver that year's commencement speech. Citing Paulson's financial success and record of public service, Dartmouth also awarded the former U.S. Treasury Secretary with an honorary degree. Four years later, Paulson was back on campus to take part in a Dartmouth lecture series called Leading Voices. In front of a packed audience, his lecture covered a vast range of topics in the political and economic spheres.
But perhaps Paulson's biggest contribution came in 2000 when he announced that he would be endowing $2 million to his alma mater in the name of a former mentor. The gift was not made in the memory of one of his economic or business professors, but rather in the memory of a former football coach.
"This is a chance to do something for Dartmouth College while honoring a man who meant so much to so many of us," explained Paulson, whose gridiron sobriquet works just as well for his days as a football star, as it does for his days on Wall Street where he first made a name for himself.