Origins of the Pacific Rim Bankers Program

Dean Kermit HansonFor the past 40 years, the Pacific Rim Bankers Program (PRBP) has provided future leaders with the knowledge and skills needed to make decisions and respond to changing markets in the banking industry. The program was originally conceived by Dr. Kermit O. Hanson, then Dean of the School of Business Administration at the University of Washington and concurrently Educational Director of the Pacific Coast Banking School (PCBS).

In late November 1975, while returning to Seattle on a flight from Australia, the concept of a program for bankers from nations bordering the Pacific Ocean first occurred to Dean Hanson. A recent tour of Pacific Rim nations and a new awareness of the significant developments in the western Pacific convinced Hanson that a real potential for economic growth and opportunity existed among the nations bordering on the Pacific.

One month later, in December 1975, Hanson proposed the program to bankers from the western United States serving on the PCBS Administrative Committee. None of the committee members at the time had any experience in international banking, and their initial reaction was one of caution since the idea seemed very foreign. However, they gradually agreed to support a program and present the concept to the PCBS Board of Directors.

The Pacific Rim Bankers Program is founded on the premise that education is the wellspring of national development.

– Dr. Kermit O. Hanson, PRBP Founder and Dean Emeritus, University of Washington Foster School of Business

The Board Chairman at the time, Alvin J. Schoenhals, Senior Vice President of Zions First National Bank in Salt Lake City, as well as Vice Chairman Ralph J. Crawford, Vice Chairman of Well Fargo Bank, NA, in San Francisco, and a few other board members reacted very positively. Their interest prompted the board to appoint a task force chaired by Crawford to explore the nature, need, and feasibility of a program for Pacific Rim bankers.

The task force developed a proposal for the new program, and on September 3, 1976, the Board unanimously approved the task force’s recommendation of a three-week intensive program. The task force also set out primary goals for the newly created PRBP:

  • Examine issues of mutual interest to all Pacific Rim nations
  • Improve participants’ abilities to handle banking and management problems
  • Facilitate banking relationships between the U.S. and other Pacific Rim nations.

40 years later, these goals still hold true for the PRBP, and it continues to offer a unique opportunity to facilitate success in the globalized financial markets of today.