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Ivy League presidents find time for corporate boards

By Laurie Bennett

June 30, 2010 at 8:37am

Bloomberg points out today that five of the eight Ivy League college presidents sit on the boards of public companies.

Princeton President Shirley Tilghman is a director of Google. Columbia President Lee Bollinger sits on the Washington Post board.

Yale President Richard Levin is a director of American Express, and University of Pennsylvania President Amy Guttman is a director of the Vanguard Group.

Ruth J. Simmons
Ruth J. Simmons

Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons is a director of Texas Instruments. She recently left the Goldman Sachs board, after students criticized her involvement in a company that played such a large part in the financial crisis. Officials at Goldman said she had decided not to seek re-election so she could spend more time at the college.

We wrote about this issue last year, mapping the many connections of Bob Kerrey and David Boren, who both head universities after serving as U.S. senators.

“For university presidents, sitting on a corporate board used to be a resume enhancer and a networking opportunity,” Nell Minow, chairman of the Corporate Library, told Bloomberg. “Now it is a genuine and very demanding task with some daunting liability - reputational and financial.”

The president with the greatest number of board positions at major companies is not in the Ivy League, but at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York. Shirley Ann Jackson sits on five boards, having resigned from a sixth in April.

She is a director of FedEx, IBM, Medtronic, Marathon Oil and Public Service Enterprise Group. She left the board of NYSE Euronext earlier this year.

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