NYU Stern
Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul A. Volcker, Lehman Brothers CEO Richard S. Fuld, Jr., and SEC Commissioner Harvey J. Goldschmid were among the "stars" of the world of business and government who participated in the Center's first annual Directors' Institute. The Institute, which was held on May 29, 2003 at the Stern School of Business, was kicked off the night before with a dinner in the boardroom of the New York Stock Exchange hosted by Dick Grasso, CEO of the Exchange and NYU Trustee.

Nearly 100 business leaders representing corporations across the country attended the program designed to be relatively small in order to permit interaction. The kickoff dinner was followed by guest lectures, breakout sessions, and panel discussions held at NYU Stern the next day. Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric Company (GE), was the Directors' Institute luncheon speaker and provided insight into corporate governance at GE and the steps GE has taken to institutionalize its response to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Click here for an excerpt of Jeffrey Immelt's keynote speech.

The Directors' Institute offers continuing education forums for current and newly-elected directors and is designed to strengthen the corporate governance practices of companies listed on the NYSE. This directors' education program project helps directors stay up-to-date on their legal, fiduciary, and ethical responsibilities by fostering interaction among peers and with experts and practitioners in the fields of law, business, and regulation. Given the increasing regulatory, legal, and financial complexities confronting directors, the Directors' Institute is a helpful tool to ensure good corporate govenance practices.

"The NYSE is proud to further its longstanding partnership with New York University through the Directors' Institute," said NYSE Chairman and CEO Dick Grasso. "By providing a forum where directors can discuss today's governance issues, we hope to provide the tools necessary to better serve America's 85 million shareholders."

Mr. Grasso hosted the event's kick-off dinner at the NYSE Board Room.

The first panel, "The Public Importance of Governance in Private Enterprise," chaired by Thomas E. Cooley, Dean of NYU Stern, featured Richard S. Fuld, Jr., chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers, Inc.; the Hon. Felix Rohatyn, president of Rohatyn Associates LLC and former ambassador to France; and the Hon. Paul A. Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. These panelists collectively provided domestic and global perspectives on governance as it relates to the public and private sector. In particular, they underscored the fundamental importance of conducting ethical business, restoring investor confidence, and determining the appropriate role of the regulator.

Roy Smith, Langone Professor of Finance, NYU Stern, chaired the second panel, "Evolving Standards for Corporate Directors." The panelists included the Hon. Harvey J. Goldschmid, commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Martin Lipton, senior partner, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, chair of the NYSE Legal Advisory Committee, and chair of the NYU Board of Trustees; and James J. Mulva, president and CEO of ConocoPhillips, Inc. This panel led a discussion of the changing role of the board member, best practices and the implications of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Panel three, "Service on the New, More Demanding Audit Committee," chaired by William T. Allen, Nusbaum Professor of Law and Business and director of the Center, featured heads of leading audit firms. J. Michael Cook, former chairman and CEO of Deloitte & Touche LLP, and chairman of the audit committees of Comcast, Inc., Rockwell Automation, Inc., and International Flavors and Fragrances, Inc.; and Philip Laskawy, former chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young LLP, and audit committee member of General Motors, Inc., led a discussion of the impact of the new SEC rules respecting audit committees and the relationship between management, the audit committee, and the audit firm.

The concluding panel, entitled "Director Liability Concerns," was chaired by Jennifer Arlen, professor of law at NYU School of Law. The panelists, the Hon. Steven M. Cutler, director of the Division of Enforcement, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; the Hon. Jack B. Jacobs, Vice Chancellor, Delaware Chancery Court; and Jack H. Nusbaum, managing partner, Willkie Farr & Gallagher, addressed standards of director conduct under both state and federal securities law.