Harvard Tops List of Schools That Turn Out Most Board Members

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By Andrea Vittorio

Harvard University has turned out the most board members at some of the nation’s largest public companies by revenue, according to a Jan. 17 ranking by governance data provider Equilar Inc.

More than 200 of the nearly 2,400 directors that disclose details on their education earned at least one degree from Harvard. The University of Pennsylvania came in second, with more than 100 directors, followed by Stanford University, with close to 70 directors.

The data, which Equilar collected for the first time, showed the directors attended 741 schools. Almost half of the schools count more than one director as alumni and a little less than 10 percent of them boast more than 10 alumni sitting on boards, the study showed.

Equilar’s findings fit into a broader conversation about bringing onto boards more women, minorities, and those with different skills and experience than traditional candidates.

Becoming Board-Ready

“We talk a lot about board recruiting, refreshment, and looking for diversity,” Dan Marcec, Equilar’s director of content and communications, told Bloomberg Law. “The school that a director attended may not be in one of those categories.”

But he said a shared alma matter can matter when boards are searching for or vetting new members. Some schools, like Stanford, have programs that help women who study there get board seats by providing networking opportunities and advice on how to become board-ready.

“We really focus on mentoring and making sure they’re aware of programs like ours,” said Fran Maier, a Stanford alumna who chairs the school’s Women on Boards Initiative. She said the initiative also hosts events, works with recruiting firms, and shares openings for board seats with members of its LinkedIn group.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at avittorio@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Yin Wilczek at ywilczek@bloomberglaw.com

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