Harvard ties Wisconsin for CEO's

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Discus: College Search and Selection: August 2004 Archive: Harvard ties Wisconsin for CEO's
By Barrons (Barrons) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 07:24 pm: Edit

Turns out UW is a CEO mill

Karen Rivedal Wisconsin State Journal
July 31, 2004

Harvard University has nothing on UW-Madison when it comes to graduating the most chief executive officers of the country's biggest companies.

An accounting by Bloomberg Markets magazine showed UW-Madison and the Ivy League heavy-hitter tied for first place, with 15 such CEOs each. The total list included 236 schools where the current CEOs of companies on Standard & Poor's 500 Index reported getting their bachelor's degrees.

The index measures the size of the companies by their total market value.

"We're measuring up very well," said UW-Madison Business School Dean Michael Knetter on Friday. "This is a great credit to the kind of people who come to Wisconsin and the kind of training they get here."

Of course, comparing UW-Madison and Harvard is unfair to Harvard in one sense: UW-Madison has a clear numerical advantage, with 29,000 undergraduates compared to about 6,650 at Harvard.

But Knetter noted that UW-Madison also turned out more CEOs than several similarly sized universities on the list, including the University of Texas, the University of Michigan and Ohio State. Ohio State had five CEOs, Texas had nine, and the University of Michigan did not make the listing of 21 colleges with five or more CEOs.

"We're beating them all pretty handily," Knetter said.

Experts cited in the Bloomberg article speculated that public universities often produce more graduates who go on to become company leaders because public school kids are "scrappier" than those who attend elite institutions. Students from less advantaged backgrounds may have no other choice but to work hard to scramble up the corporate ladder, while those from rich families might have a company corner office waiting for them when they graduate regardless of what they achieve.

Knetter said that argument sounded right to him, but he also thought campus environment had a lot to do with it. UW-Madison is rich in socio-economic - though not racial - diversity, with students from international, rural, urban, rich and poor backgrounds.

"To be a great leader you have to understand people who come from many different perspectives and backgrounds," he said.

CEOs from Wisconsin, according to Bloomberg, include Thomas Falk, 46, who leads Kimberly-Clark Corp., the largest U.S. maker of disposable diapers; Carol Bartz, 55, leader of Autodesk Inc., maker of software for engineers and architects; and Lee Raymond, 65, CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company.

By Lucifersam (Lucifersam) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 08:54 pm: Edit

Um, go U Wisconsin!

By Kk19131 (Kk19131) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 08:56 pm: Edit

How many time are you going to post this crap?

By Fonzie (Fonzie) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 05:56 am: Edit

Until the small miniority of ignorant and prestigue... striving students and parents who lurk these boards see their arguments fall to the power of pure fact.

I think this opens an interesting debate about the economics of private educations as the public systems grow.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 08:35 am: Edit

I agree Fonzie. I have been trying to say it for days that there are some state universities that offer equal education to the Ivy League and I get people attacking me like I had committed blasphemy!!! LOL

By Taxguy (Taxguy) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 09:28 am: Edit

Mark Twain once noted, "There are liars, damn liars, and statisticians."

UW and other state univ may produce as many if not more CEOS that that of top ranked private schools. However, the number of people graduating from the big well known state universities greatly dwarf the number of people graduating from the well known lacs and ivys.

A better comparison is what percentage of the ivy and lac grads made it "big" or are teaching at Universities vs. the percentage of grads in total from the top state universiies. In fact, if you don't like my standard, set up a good test standard and do some research.

This is akin to the Cicadas that we had here in Maryland. There were billions of them,but only 10% lived to produce offspring. I think a similar analogy can be made of the top, large state university. If you educate enough of people, some will rise to the top.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 09:42 am: Edit

Not so fast, Taxguy. With 40,000 students, sure Wisconsin is huge... but Harvard has 20,000 students...not exactly small by any standard.

But you are not taking an important factor into consideration. Most CEOs have graduate degrees. Guess who has the bigger graduate school... Harvard or Wisconsin? Yup, you guessed it. Actually, it is not even close. Harvard graduates 1,000 MBAs each year. Wisconsin graduates 150 MBAs each year. Havard is SIX times bigger than Wisconsin where MBAs are concerned. Harvard Law school graduates 600 JDs each year compared to Wisconsin's 250. Again, Harvard is several times large than Wisconsin in another major graduate field.

Taxguy, you can at least admit that Wisconsin's accomplishments are impressive. That it must be doing something right in educating smart, cultured, capable people who are every bit as refined and intelligent as the Ivy League alums. The same can be said of the top 10 state universities.

By Wisconsinguy (Wisconsinguy) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 10:58 am: Edit

Actually, that is an unimportant factor for consideration, specifically because this study only asks where the CEOs received their undergraduate degrees. In this, Harvard is not even close to Wisconsin's size.

Is Wisconsin a fine school? Yes. Are there many talented, motivated students who go there? Without a doubt. But in terms of a personalized, quality education, it has very little on a Princeton, Yale, or Dartmouth (or Williams or Swarthmore, for that matter).

By Jonw222 (Jonw222) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 11:21 am: Edit

I've posted on the boards several times that I personally don't believe where you go for an undergraduate education will make or break you anymore as most people go on to graduate and do not use the bachelor degree as a terminal degree anymore.

I discount the "numerical advantage" U. Wisconsin has over Harvard. If the students couldn't become CEOs they wouldn't. You can't take away that they do.

The people that do become CEOs are probably at the top of U. Wisconsin's class. The students who aren't as driven or as focused won't become CEOs. There are obviously more at Wisconsin then there are at Harvard.

Here are some final thoughts:

1. Can one become a CEO after graduating from any school? I believe that they can. That talented people at any school can succeed.

2. Maybe there's an "honors" program at U. Wisconsin that puts the superior students together hence giving them a comparable, "quality" education.

3. Define quality education. I've seen quite a bit on the boards the term "quality education." I'm curious what others think a quality education consists of and why those opportunities are better at high powered brand name universities.

We have this drilled into our heads and I did too that Ivy League Schools were simply better than all other institutions and that this was just fact. My parents, who went to CUNY Brooklyn College and CUNY City College, in the 60's didn't want me applying (or dare say going) to any Ivy League schools. I had to beg and plead to allow me to apply to NYU and only because I convinced them that they would give me a merit scholarship (I was right.)

Now, I agree with my parents. They turned out perfectly fine going to CUNY schools and I'm turning out fine as well, getting accepted to a top graduate program in my field.

By Barrons (Barrons) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 09:41 pm: Edit

Obviously I posted this half in jest to tweak the uptight noses of a few around here. But the fact remains that UW did beat lots of schools more similar to it in size and scope and that's a good thing.
You give me the first 4000 picks each year from the entire country and I'd have some pretty good success stories too.

By Scubasteve (Scubasteve) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:40 pm: Edit

Broken logic

...alex said it well

nearly all of ceo's have an mba degree. Undergrad degree is unimportant when comparing where CEOs came from, since undergrad does not make a ceo...but rather their mba degree does.

If you are going to compare schools based on CEOs then you better do it based on the degree that got them their...graduate school

To me 40,000 undergrad students = greater probability one will be accepted into a top grad program (havard, stanford, wharton, etc...)

That is all the article really proves, no praise be to the school

By Barrons (Barrons) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 02:23 pm: Edit

That does not apply to UW beating out Michigan, Berkeley, Uva, UNC, UCLA and all the other large state schools.
Many have said or implied here that you better go to a top private or your life will be futile. This just provides some proof to the contrary. As I said, give me the first 4,000 picks and I would have some pretty good results too.

By Barrons (Barrons) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 08:04 pm: Edit

Some UW CEO's reflect

"UW's intellectual environment challenged Michael Critelli, 55, of Pitney Bowes Inc., the world's largest maker of postal meters, to think critically, even more so than his other alma mater, Harvard Law School, he says.

"Wisconsin really opened my mind," says Critelli, who graduated in 1970 with a degree in communications and political science.

The UW System's successful CEO alumni and their spouses have shown their gratitude by giving back to the university. John Rowe, 59, of Chicago-based Exelon Corp., the second-biggest U.S. utility operator, got his undergraduate degree in history and his law degree at UW.

He recently endowed a chair in Byzantine history for $1 million.

"I'm fanatically loyal to Wisconsin because it took this kid off a Wisconsin farm, who was bright and had a lot of ambition, and exposed me to different cultures, races and radically different intellectual points of view," Rowe says."

By Jonw222 (Jonw222) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 08:10 pm: Edit


"If you are going to compare schools based on CEOs then you better do it based on the degree that got them their...graduate school"

I absolutely agree on this point. A bachelor degree is no longer a final degree with most people going on for law school, business school, medical school, or a Ph.D. program.

"To me 40,000 undergrad students = greater probability one will be accepted into a top grad program (havard, stanford, wharton, etc...)"

This I disagree with. You imply that acceptance to a graduate program is a purely random act, that anyone who applies has a "probability" of being accepted. Truth is some people have 0% chance of being accepted because their stats are too under the median.

It is not true that all 40,000 undergrads at University of Wisconsin are qualified to go on to Harvard Business School or could be accepted or that going to University of Wisconsin necessarily increases your chances of success. The top of the class at U. Wisconsin (which will have high scores on the graduate standardized tests) will be qualified and the bottom won't be. At Harvard, (which as Barrons states has the first 4000 picks in the country), there is a higher *percentage* of these qualified students.

Not that this is a cross-section of the entire country, but from my small circle of friends at NYU, I have had two friends go to Harvard Law School, another two go to Columbia Law School, several go off to great graduate programs (e.g. Ph.D. at Harvard for Slavic Studies), and a couple work at big financial firms (e.g. Goldman Sachs, Chubb Insurance.) I also have friends who are working as bank tellers, driving taxi cabs, working as waitresses, and ripping out kitchen fixtures.

The point, some people go on to Harvard Law School and some people rip out kitchen fixtures with the *SAME* degree (those two happened to major in the same field - history.)

People can be successful coming from any school.


By Mysticwistful (Mysticwistful) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 08:44 pm: Edit

UWisconsin probably has more students than Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth combined. If you got all the public schools in the nation and combined them into one huge conglomerate, HYPSD would still beat them all. Now THAT's impressive.

By Barrons (Barrons) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 11:07 pm: Edit

Obviously reading comprehension is not your strongest area.

And you are wrong by a MILE

Most common undergraduate universities by Fortune category
Fortune group University
Fortune 100 Harvard, Stanford (4% each)
Fortune 101 - 200 University of Wisconsin (6%)
Fortune 201 - 300 Princeton (4%)
Fortune 301 - 400 University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas (3% each)
Fortune 401 - 500 Louisiana State University, Purdue (3% each)
Fortune 501 - 600 Harvard, University of Illinois, Yale (3% each)
Fortune 601 - 700 Purdue (7%)

Fewer Fortune CEOs received their undergraduate degrees from Ivy League Schools (Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Brown, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Princeton and Cornell) with the percentage down to 10% in 2003 compared with 15% five years ago.


By Happy27 (Happy27) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 02:05 pm: Edit

I love that many of you have severely gotten your noses out of joint. Here is a statistic clearly showing a majority of CEO's coming from a public school over other public schools of similar sizes. But forget ratio, and other such factors. Why does it bother you so much that a solid ranking university would produce success that competes with an Ivy league school? Are your stereotypes and cliches about education so rooted into your belief system that you cannot acknowledge fact when it presents itself? Undergraduate education does not have relatively "nothing" to do with a person's education. It is the foundation. I have two higher education degrees - a master's and a medical degree, both received from institutions that were private, despite the fact that I went to a public school for undergraduate education. My undergraduate education was superior in so many ways to my private education when it comes to my development as a person. Ambition may be my own, facilitated through an MD school, but all of my base qualities of interest and direction were cultivated at a public school. If there is one obvious ascertation about success, it is that it is up to the individual to make something out of their own education. However, that said - a good school is a good school. It produces results. And here are your results. Smile, boys. There are worse things that could happen to the world of business.

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