William Penn University lost one of its most distinguished alumni on Friday, August 3 when Dr. Paul W. McCracken passed away at the age of 96, in Ann Arbor, MI.
McCracken, a native of Richland, Iowa, had strong ties to the University. Both of his parents, Sumner McCracken and Mary Coffin attended William Penn. Paul’s father served on the board of trustees from 1931-1954, and his uncle, H. Linneaus McCracken, served as president of the college from 1928-1931. Paul earned his bachelor’s degree from William Penn in 1937 and went on to earn his master’s and doctorate from Harvard University.
Upon receiving his Ph.D. in economics, he served one and a half years as an economist with the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. In 1943, McCracken became the Federal Reserve Bank’s financial economist and at the age of 29, he became the Director of Research and Statistics for the Federal Reserve Bank.
In 1948, McCracken accepted a position at the University of Michigan, where he taught for nearly 40 years. At the Ross School of Business, McCracken was named the Edmund Ezra Day Distinguished University Professor (Emeritus) of Business Administration, Economics, and Public Policy.
A phone call from the White House in 1956 began a succession of presidential appointments. He was first appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower to serve for two and a half years on the Council of Economic Advisors. President John F. Kennedy asked McCracken to serve as a task force member on the domestic economic situation and the balance of payments problem. President Lyndon Johnson named McCracken to the Commission on Budget Concept. In 1969, Richard Nixon appointed McCracken chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, a post he held for three years. President Ronald Reagan later appointed McCracken to his Economic Policy Advisory Board.
In 1986, McCracken retired from active faculty status but continued to keep regular hours at the University.
William Penn University renamed its first graduate program after McCracken in October of 2009. The Masters of Business Leadership became the Paul W. McCracken Graduate Program of Business Leadership. McCracken was able to return to the Oskaloosa campus, along with his children, for a tour of the ground before the dedication ceremony, held at the William Penn University College for Working Adults campus in West Des Moines.
McCracken is survived by his daughters, Linda Langer and Paula McCracken.