Pacific Rim Bankers Share Financial Views; West Coast Program Recognizes Area's Economic and Cultural Transformation

By Fitzgerald, Joan | American Banker, June 19, 1984 | Go to article overview
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Pacific Rim Bankers Share Financial Views; West Coast Program Recognizes Area's Economic and Cultural Transformation


Fitzgerald, Joan, American Banker


SAN FRANCISCO -- A young naval reserve supply officer assigned to the Pacific during World War II was struck by something he would remember for the rest of his life. In his words it was "a great awakening" occurring to the Pacific Rim countries.

The economic trend perceived by Kermit O. Hanson and others at the end of World War II has come about with the burgeoning of trade flow to and from the United States, as a well as among the Asian countries themselves. (Last year, for example, U.S. trade -- imports plus exports -- with the PAcific Rim reached $134 billion, while trade with country's traditional trading partners in Western Europe had declined to $110 billion.)

After the war, Kermit Hanson returned to an academic life at the business school of the University of Washington. He remained there for 33 years, rising to the position of dean in 1964. For most of his career and after his retirement in 1981, Dr. Hanson was convinced that the economic and cultural transformation he saw from the deck of his small carrier was important and, further that bankers and finance people would play an increasingly significant role in the development of those countries.

Thus, shortly before retiring from his department duties, Dr. Hanson proposed to the board of the Pacific Coast Banking School, which the university opened in 1938, a new program specifically designed for bankers from the Pacific Rim countries.

"The Pacific Rim countries are those nations bordering and contained by the PAcific OCean," explains Dr. Hanson, "particularly those nations that have market-oriented economies and whose economic growth may be enhanced from the development of economic interdependency with other nations in the PAcific Ocean."

The program Dr. Hanson envisioned would acknowledge the growing trend of trade expansion by stimulating contact among Pacific Rim bankers in an educational context. The young supply offcier had foreseen that in many of the Asian countries, private bankers as well as those in the central government would be given specific development responsibilities in varying degrees by their governments.

The Pacific Rim Bankers Program was inaugurated with a freshman class of 39 Asian and American students attending its first three week session in the summer of 1977.

This year, the 70 students have been drawn from 14 countries. Dean Hanson serves as executive and educational director of the program, traveling frequently to Asia, making contacts, and pitching the PRBP, now in its 8th year. While he maintains there are not set quotas, the admissions staff works hard to get as wide a representation of countries as possible each year.

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