Sheila Bair Resigning From Santander Board to Lead College

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Sheila Bair, the former head of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and a vocal advocate for tougher bank regulation, is resigning from Banco Santander SA’s board after accepting an appointment at Washington College.

Bair, 61, will step down on Oct. 1, about 18 months after being named to the panel, the Madrid-based bank said Thursday in a filing. The liberal arts school near Baltimore announced in May that she will become its president on Aug. 1.

Bair, who sometimes clashed with the U.S. Treasury Department over the government’s treatment of the country’s biggest banks during the financial crisis, has pushed for new rules to force lenders to add capital and curb risk-taking. Some of her ideas made it into the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that regulates the financial system.

Her departure from Santander follows a period of senior leadership change at Spain’s biggest bank. Ana Botin took over as chair of the bank in September, appointing a new chief executive officer.

“We have learned from her regulatory and U.S. perspective and we are a better bank for her service,” Botin said in a statement. “Given the changes at Banco Santander in the past 10 months, I would like to acknowledge how much I have personally valued her advice and counsel.”

‘Revolving Door’

Washington College has about 1,400 undergraduate students from 35 states and 40 nations, according to its website. Bair also is stepping down as senior adviser to the Pew Charitable Trusts to focus on her new role, according to a spokesman for the Philadelphia-based organization.

In her 2012 book “Bull by the Horns,” Bair praised firms including Santander that focused on traditional banking activities. She also criticized government peers who looked forward to lucrative jobs at lenders they regulated, calling for an end to the “revolving door.”

“My position at Washington College is very much a full-time obligation,” Bair said in a statement from the bank. “Santander’s risk management culture and strong customer focus will continue to serve it well.”