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Paul Ray will lead OIRA beginning OMB | Courtesy

“I think I have the best job in gov­ernment,” said Paul Ray ’08, recently appointed acting head of the Office of Infor­mation and Reg­u­latory Affairs.

After grad­u­ating from Hillsdale College, Ray earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He has clerked in the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit and for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. In July 2018, Ray Joined OIRA as deputy admin­is­trator. In March 2019, Ray assumed the duties of acting director.

“OIRA’s role is, in essence, to ensure that agency reg­u­la­tions embody the president’s policies and that the reg­u­la­tions are lawful and war­ranted by strong eco­nomic analysis,” Ray said in an email. “Under Pres­ident Trump, we’ve focused on working with agencies to rescind or revise reg­u­la­tions that unduly restrict the liberty of the American people or that are not autho­rized by statute.”

Ray attributes much of his success to his Hillsdale edu­cation.

“In one sense, it’s com­pletely imprac­tical, because it’s about con­tem­plating first prin­ciples, not about acquiring skills to use on the job,” Ray said. “But in another sense, learning about first prin­ciples is the most prac­tical thing you can do, because they point the way to the goal of your activity and skills.”

Ray said he strives to con­tinue his con­tem­plation of first prin­ciples.

“One of the first lessons I learned after Hillsdale is how dif­ficult it is to make time for the life of the mind out in the world,” Ray said. “Dis­ci­pline is key. For me, that means getting reading in before the sun comes up.”

An English major, Ray has con­tinued to read the classics since his grad­u­ation from Hillsdale.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with Cicero lately. His ‘On the Orator’ is really a for­gotten gem, espe­cially for those of us who want prac­tical guidance about com­bining the life of the mind and the life of action,” Ray said. “And of course, Chesterton’s and Eliot’s poetry are more or less con­stant com­panions.”

At Hillsdale, Ray’s study of Dante with Pro­fessor of English Stephen Smith had a major influence on his thought.

“Too many people read only the Inferno and think of Dante as a poet of anger and vengeance, but ‘the Pur­ga­torio’ shows him as really a poet of mercy,” Ray said. “His depiction of the power of human choice and the path to the good life, not through aban­donment of cre­ation, but through properly ordered love of it, has stayed with me through the years.”

Smith remembers Ray as a won­der­fully tal­ented student.

“He had a gift for noticing what many of us overlook in our reading,” Smith said. “He would often call attention to little details in the work and make crucial con­nec­tions through them. He and ‘The Divine Comedy’ were made for each other.”

Smith recalled how Ray engaged with the work.

“Paul rec­og­nized that, for Dante, the fun­da­mental question for a human involves the real order of their loves. What do I love the most, and why? Do I love things in the best order? What’s the true order of my heart?” Smith said.

Pro­fessor of Phi­losophy and Religion Nathan Schlueter remembers Ray as a model student.

“I some­times tell my stu­dents, ‘Seek ye first a true liberal arts edu­cation and the rest will be granted unto you.’ Paul Ray exem­plifies this.”