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UW-Madison among leaders in producing CEOs

January 4, 2011

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is among the leaders in producing chief executive officers of major corporations, according to a new study from U.S. News & World Report.

The study of the educational backgrounds of 2010’s Fortune 500 chief executive officers showed that UW–Madison ranked fourth, behind three Ivy League schools. According to the study, Harvard, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania together awarded 99 degrees to the chief executives.

The magazine said UW–Madison “stood out among its state school peers,” awarding 17 degrees to the CEOs and ranking ahead of Dartmouth College, Stanford University and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. The University of Notre Dame, the University of Texas-Austin and Cornell University rounded out the top 10.

“UW-Madison has educated generations of leaders in a variety of fields,” says UW–Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin. “This is a community that promotes creativity and responsibility. It is among the leaders in both CEOs and in volunteers to the Peace Corps and Teach for America. The achievements of our alumni are testimony to the caliber of people who study here and the quality of their experiences.”

Eleven of the 17 UW–Madison chief executive officers had earned undergraduate degrees, while three earned master of business administration degrees and another three received other graduate degrees.

“Wisconsin’s penchant for producing influential leaders at every level is a tradition long in the making,” says Joan Schmit, interim dean of the Wisconsin School of Business. “While the university draws a diverse student body from all over the world, a common theme is a strong sense of responsibility to treat the world well and seek excellence. These qualities, combined with Wisconsin’s knack for exposing students to a challenging and robust academic and extracurricular environment, have contributed greatly to developing graduates known for pushing boundaries and challenging existing structures.”

Among the CEOs from UW–Madison are David Anderson of American Family Insurance Group; Carol Bartz of Yahoo! Inc.; Keith D. Nosbusch of Rockwell Automation Inc.; Rob Pollock of Assurant Inc.; Thomas Falk of Kimberly-Clark Corp.; and David J. Lesar of Halliburton Co.

Past studies of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index showed the UW System tied with Harvard in producing the most CEOs. Each school claimed 15 chief executive officers as having received undergraduate degrees from their institutions.

Read the U.S. News & World Report story here: