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austan_smAustan Goolsbee ’87, who chairs President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, was recently awarded a title that connects with his Milton years. Austan was named the 2011 Communicator of the Year by the National Forensics League (NFL). Austan received the award at the league’s national speech and debate tournament, where he also served as a guest judge.

In 1987, faculty member Debbie Simon was one of Austan’s speech coaches—the year he became the National Champion in International Extemporaneous Speaking. He finished second in Original Oratory. The Milton Academy team, which also included Upper School Principal David Ball ’88 and performing arts faculty member Patrice Jean-Baptiste ’88, won the national championship.

The Communicator of the Year award is given to someone who directly draws upon speech training as part of his or her career. “When Austan accepted the award, he spoke about how invaluable that training has been,” said Debbie. Austan told the audience that when he was a student, the speech team held a fundraiser in which its members had to keep talking for 24 hours straight.

“He joked that it would have been more of a hardship to tell them to keep quiet for 24 hours,” laughs Debbie.

Debbie and faculty colleague Susan Marianelli were at the tournament in Dallas, as were two Milton students. Martin Page ’12 earned tenth place among 200 candidates from across the country in Congressional Debate at the tournament.

While working with the Obama administration, Austan has been on leave from his position as the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He has announced his intention of returning to the University of Chicago in the near future.

Image courtesy of AP Photo Services