More on Elite Universities

19 September 2006 at 12:03 pm 3 comments

| Peter Klein |

We reported previously on Kim, Morse, and Zingales’s paper “Are Elite Universities Losing Their Competitive Edge?” The paper documents a sharp reduction in the marginal benefits to faculty of being affiliated with top research universities. Monday’s W$J has some anecdotal evidence on the value of elite universities to their students. It turns out that most CEOs of major US companies did not attend Ivy League schools, but rather their local state university or a smaller, less-known college. Wal-Mart’s H. Lee Scott went to Pittsburg State University in Kansas, Intel’s Paul Otellini to the University of San Francisco, Costco’s James Sinegal to San Diego City College, and Accenture’s Bill Green to Dean College in Massachusetts. Warren Buffet attended the University of Nebraska. And we all know about Bill Gates.

Commentator Richard Tedlow notes that “A lot of people who earn degrees from tier-one universities and business schools aren’t willing to start at the bottom of a huge company,” working their way up and learning important lessons along the way. Says Proctor and Gamble’s A. G. Lafley, who went to Hamilton College, “I learned to think, to communicate, to lead, to get things done.” For this, “Any college will do.”

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Teaching.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Academia, Research, and Podcasts » Doctor Recommended  |  19 September 2006 at 9:55 pm

    […] Earlier today Peter Klein pointed to a very interesting article regarding elite universities from the WSJ aptly titled, “Any College Will Do.” In it, the author notes that only 10% of the chief executives of Fortune 500 firms attended an Ivy League school. In fact, most of the executives simply matriculated to seemingly generic schools (e.g. large State-supported schools). […]

  • 2. privilege and university admission «  |  23 September 2006 at 2:03 am

    […] Fabio blogged earlier this week about how early admissions policies (which favor the wealthy) are being dropped at Ivy League universities.  Read this eye-opening Economist article (via about just how far top universities are willing to go to bring in the wealthy, privileged and “legacies” (children of alumni). Hmm, of course if your ambition is to become a CEO, you might be better off going to Chico State. […]

  • 3. John  |  27 September 2006 at 1:03 pm

    Going to a top tier university/college means that you have mastered a certain body of academic knowledge, have a certain amount of discipline and have higher than average intelligence. It does not mean you have street smarts, are a political animal, have great interpersonal skills, are good looking/charismatic — from my observation all necessary skills to successfully weave through corporate structures and hierarchies. You may have average,or even lower than average intelligence, but if you are attractive, look out for number one, and can delegate, you are assured a place and a future in corporate America. Ivy Leaguers and potted Ivy Leaguers may not have the patience or the desire to stay the course for livelihoods that require such skills.

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