AMES, Iowa -- Tahira Hira, executive assistant to the president and a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University, was appointed Jan. 22 by President George W. Bush to the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. The new council was established in an executive order Bush signed earlier in the day.
Hira was among 16 people Bush appointed to the council, which will be chaired by Charles R. Schwab. The president introduced the council members during a media briefing yesterday afternoon at the White House.
"I have asked people from the business world, the faith world, the non-profit world, to join this council in order to come up with recommendations as to how to better educate people from all walks of life about matters pertaining to their finances and their future," President Bush said in his prepared statement Tuesday.
Hira said she is thrilled to serve on the new council and looks forward to the challenging work over its proposed two-year term. Tuesday was the first time all 16 members met in the White House.
"The most fascinating thing was to walk into the White House from the side of the building where the people who work there enter," Hira said. "You see all important political figures walking around you. For examples, we saw Sen. Joe Biden, Vice President Cheney, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and several cabinet members.
"The president made us all very comfortable," she said. "I couldn't believe I was entering the Oval Office. I said 'This can't be true, it must be a dream.' It's a totally different feeling. It's the Office of the President of the United States where the important history is made and the emotions that come out of you are the feelings of pride and the humility."
Since 1976, Hira has taught and conducted research in family financial management, consumer credit, gambling, and consumer bankruptcy in the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand. She came to Iowa State in 1980 and is internationally known as a leader in the field, publishing approximately 100 articles and book chapters. She also has given approximately 200 national and international presentations on topics such as the social and psychological aspects of the borrowing and investment behaviors of middle and high income Americans, consumer bankruptcy, consumer credit, gambling, and the borrowing behavior of college students.
Hira has received numerous honors for her contributions, including the Research Excellence Award of the Japan Society of Household Economics, University of Missouri Distinguished Alumni Award, Iowa State University Regents' Faculty Excellence Award, Alumni Faculty Citation, the Wilton Park International Achievement Award, and the Fulbright-Hays Scholarship.
She serves on the editorial boards of three journals and is a reviewer for several others. She has also served on several national committees and boards, including the Institute of the Certified Financial Planners, Board of Standards and Practices for the Certified Financial Planners, and the National Foundation for Consumer Credit. She was the founding president of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education and both the president and vice president of Finance & Properties for the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Because President Bush only established the new council in yesterday's executive order, members weren't permitted to conduct any formal business. Hira says that the group's first formal meeting may take place in February. During that meeting they will learn more about charge of the council, specific assignments and timelines.
The President expressed his appreciation to the council members for their willingness to serve yesterday, both in his formal statement and on a one-to-one basis.
"He (President Bush) said, 'Thank you very much for agreeing to serve,' and 'I am so glad you're doing this important work" Hira said. "And I said, 'Thank you for elevating the importance of this topic to this level and I'm honored to serve on this important council.'"