Portland Tribune: State treasurer announces Straub fellowships
Author: Peter Wong, Portland Tribune
Posted: October 26, 2017

Read the original story in the Portland Tribune.

New program at Portland State University will enable graduate students to gain experience with business finance and public service at Oregon Treasury.

A pair of fellowships, named in honor of Bob Straub, will attract graduate students to Portland State University to gain experience in business finance and public service at the Oregon State Treasury.

The fellowships were announced by State Treasurer Tobias Read, current holder of the office that Straub transformed.

Straub, a Eugene businessman who later become governor, instituted the Oregon Treasury's wide-ranging scope of investment, debt management and banking services during his tenure from 1965 to 1973.

"It wasn't hard for me to think about how we name this effort to infuse new talent, diverse perspectives and backgrounds into our work," Read said at an Oct. 24 gathering at Portland State.

"He was a tenacious leader and a visionary who understood then, in 1968, what we know even better today — that we need courage and foresight, and we need to be good at the business of government.

"Students might not think of government as a potential career, but in many ways, government is a business — and the Straub fellowship is intended to help people get a foot in the door."

One 10-week summer fellowship will pay $6,000, and an eight-month residency will pay $24,000.

PSU is home to the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government and its Center for Public Service, which since 2000 has placed 400 public service professionals with Oregon government and nonprofit sponsors.

Phil Keisling, director of the center and a former Oregon secretary of state, said the Straub fellowships are the first to offer a specialized track.

"We hope they are not the last," Keisling said.

"What we are trying to do is bring the most exceptional talent we can find from across the country and give sponsors here the opportunity to take advantage of that talent."

Straub died in 2002 at age 82.

Read and Keisling were joined by three members of the Straub family — sons Jim and Mike, and Mike's wife Linna — and former state treasurers Jim Hill (1993-2001) and Randall Edwards (2001-09).

Also at the announcement were two other members of the Oregon Investment Council, which Straub initiated and now oversees close to a total $100 billion, most of it in the Public Employees Retirement Fund. They were Chairwoman Rukaiyah Adams, chief investment officer for the Meyer Memorial Trust, and Rex Kim, retirement consultant for the Multnomah Group. The treasurer also sits on the five-member council.

Oregon's public-pension fund ranks 21st in size in the nation.

Adams said her generation is the beneficiary of decisions made by Straub to invest funds, initially in common stocks and eventually broadened to other types.

"I can see in 20 or 25 years … they too will carry it forward," Adams said of the graduates who will emerge from the fellowships. "We need a diverse set of eyes looking at the investment challenge before us."

Before Straub's tenure decades ago, the state treasury simply deposited money with banks, but investments were a new field for public finance.

"You have to be at the forefront, which involves risk," Kim said.

As is the case with other public agencies, the Oregon State Treasury is facing a wave of retirements of the post-World War II baby boomers. About a quarter of the staff, including much of the senior leadership, will be eligible for retirement in the next five years.

Read, who is 42, said the time to develop new talent is now.

"We need to have a strong bench," he said. "We can't afford high-priced free agents."

Learn about the Straub Fellowships