President Obama Nominates Alumnus to Oversee Nation's Banks

As head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Thomas Curry ’78 oversees more than 2,000 national banks and federal saving associations.

Thomas CurryThroughout the midst of the late 1980s New England banking crisis and the most recent financial disaster on Wall Street, Thomas Curry ’78 has remained at the center of it all, through his career in regulatory law, which continues to advance, thanks to a boost from President Barack Obama.

Curry was nominated by Obama in 2011 to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), was subsequently confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and was officially sworn in on April 9, 2012.

As comptroller of the currency, he is in charge of overseeing more than 2,000 national banks and federal saving associations and about 50 federal branches and agencies of foreign banks.

“What is great about being here at the OCC is the breadth of responsibilities we have for our national banks and federal thrifts,” Curry says. “This agency really covers the whole range of financial institutions, from community banks in small towns throughout the United States to the world’s largest globally active financial institutions.”

During his tenure at the OCC, Curry’s responsibilities vary from formulating a national bank regulatory policy to managing activities affiliated with the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The 2010 act requires more accountability and transparency in the financial system, and the OCC plays a crucial role in implementing the statute and monitoring its progress.

“This agency’s primary goal is to supervise, which means conducting on-site examinations into the financial affairs of the national banks and federal thrifts that we supervise, and also to make appropriate policy determinations about those activities,” he explains.

An Agency with History

Curry is also excited about the OCC’s history, which stems back to Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, when he established the agency to help finance the Civil War. On Feb. 25, 2013, the OCC will celebrate its 150th birthday, and a history of financial and regulatory innovation.

“I want to make sure the agency has a firm foundation for the next 150 years,” he says. “We consider ourselves to be the premier bank regulatory agency in the United States, if not the world, and want to maintain that position.”

Prior to coming to the OCC, Curry served on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) board as director for eight years. Nominated by President George W. Bush in 2003, he gained a tremendous amount of experience at the FDIC in the middle of the global financial crisis and the initial development of the Dodd-Frank Act. Curry will also stay involved with the FDIC as an ex officio member of the board.

In addition, while working at the FDIC, he served as chairman of the NeighborWorks America board of directors, which is a nonprofit, with local affiliates throughout the country, that develops national solutions to combat the foreclosure crisis. It creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing.

I think the Lasallian tradition is one that has served me well throughout my life as an individual and in my professional capacity.

Because NeighborWorks is chartered by Congress, he will remain involved as a member of its board.

He spent 22 years with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, working for five Massachusetts governors. Curry was commissioner of banks from 1990 to 1991 and from 1995 to 2003, and served both parties, including Governors Mitt Romney and Michael Dukakis.

He graduated from Manhattan College in 1978 with a B.A. in history and a minor in philosophy, and went on to receive a law degree from the New England School of Law.

All in the Family

Curry’s familiarity with Manhattan College started long before his college search. Both his father, William Curry Jr. ’38, and uncle, Matthias Leckey ’36, attended the College in the 1930s, and eventually his three brothers (John Curry ’74, William Curry III ’76 and Peter Curry ’81) and he followed in their footsteps.

In 2013, the family will celebrate even more Jasper milestones: his niece Clare O’Connell, an elementary education major with a concentration in Spanish, will graduate from Manhattan, and Curry will mark his 35th graduation anniversary and the 75th for his deceased father.

“I think the Lasallian tradition is one that has served me well throughout my life as an individual and in my professional capacity,” adds Curry, who has been active in a variety of federal and state regulatory commissions and associations.

As Curry reflects on his more than three decades since graduating from Manhattan College, he highlights how rewarding it has been to have the opportunity to work in public service.

“I think I have been very fortunate to be able to offer whatever skills I have to the American people from a regulatory standpoint,” he says. “And I think some of that desire to give back and have a role in serving the greater societal good comes from my experience at Manhattan College more than 30 years ago.”