Janet Yellen confirmed as head of Federal Reserve

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The U.S. Senate confirmed Janet Yellen, a professor emerita at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, as the first female head of the Federal Reserve on Monday.

Yellen, current vice chair of the Fed’s Board of Governors, will replace Ben Bernanke when she takes office on Feb. 1. She was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama in October.

Yellen taught macroeconomics and international business to undergraduates and MBA students at Haas for 24 years beginning in 1980, becoming the second woman to earn tenure at the Haas School in 1982. She received the school’s Earl F. Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching, a student-nominated award, in 1985 and 1988.

“Janet was always a phenomenal teacher — partly because she worked very, very hard at it,” said Haas professor David Levine, whom Yellen mentored, in an August interview with The Daily Californian. “She thought about literally every word she would say. As she has moved up in government, this level of thoughtfulness and reflection has always been increasingly important — and as a high official of the Federal Reserve system, where literally, the placement of a comma can move the markets.”

Yellen joined the Clinton administration in the 1990s as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and served as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from 2004 to 2010.

Yellen earned a reputation as a strong advocate for the Fed’s aggressive debt-purchasing program that intended to stimulate the economy and reduce uncomfortably high unemployment levels, a policy that has come to concern some inflation-wary Senate Republicans.

But nearly a dozen Senate Republicans crossed the aisle to confirm Yellen, the first Democratic nominee since Paul Volcker was appointed chair in 1979. The 52-26 final tally was the closest confirmation vote for any Fed chair in history.

Connor Grubaugh covers higher education. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ConnorGrubaugh.