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College presidents on Blue Cross boards

By Laurie Bennett

September 13, 2010 at 10:33am

In a recent editorial, the Raleigh News and Observer called for Thomas W. Ross Sr. to resign his Blue Cross position before taking on the job of overseeing North Carolina’s university system.

Ross already juggles multiple duties as president of Davidson College and a director of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

His responsibilities will grow substantially when he becomes president of the 17-campus university system in on Jan. 1, replacing Erskine Bowles.

“Ross is taking on a job that will require his full energies as he reaches out to campuses and constituents around the state,” the editorial said. “He should resign from the Blue Cross board, and ideally, he would pass on others as well.

Ross isn’t the only college president to serve on a Blue Cross board. A fellow director at BC/BS of North Carolina is Harold Martin, chancellor of the state Ag & Tech school.

In Massachusetts, former Babson College President Brian Barefoot and current Bentley University President Gloria Larson sit on the BC/BS board.

Carnegie Mellon Provost Mark Kamlet is a director of Highmark, which operates several BC/BS subsidiaries.

Our survey is a sampling rather than a complete review. Many Blue Cross companies fail to list their board members on their web sites or in their annual reports.

One has to wonder whether directors want to avoid questions from the public about the substantial salaries received by many BC/BS chief execs.

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