Global Capital Markets Center hosts third annual conference on corporate governance

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With the sweeping changes instituted by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the public’s intensive focus on corporate governance, Duke’s Global Capital Markets Center recently hosted its third annual Directors' Education Institute exploring some of the central legal and policy issues board chairs, corporate directors and senior executive officers of publicly traded corporations face today.

Panel Discussion

“Duke succeeded in putting together a comprehensive program that covered a lot of ground in a short space of time. The choice and caliber of the keynote speakers and the topics they covered were excellent and set the overall tone for a quality program. The topics were pertinent and thought-provoking,” said attendee Brian Harker, president and CEO of Dimon, Inc.

The conference, supported by the New York Stock Exchange Foundation, builds upon the strengths of both Duke Law School and The Fuqua School of Business and through interactive panel discussions and focused break-out sessions teaches participants how to develop a framework for making informed board decisions and exercising sound business judgment.  Speakers featured a wide range of prominent academics, leading executives, corporate directors, policymakers, and experts from the legal and financial services industries, including Herbert M. Allison, Jr., Chairman, President and CEO of TIAA-CREF; G. Kennedy Thompson, Chairman and CEO of Wachovia Corporation; the Honorable Harvey J. Goldschmid, the Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; and The Honorable Leo E. Strine, Jr., Vice Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery. Several Duke Law and Fuqua professors also were among the panelists.

“At the end of the conference many participants thanked me and said that the conference helped them crystallize their thinking about appropriate governance practices for their companies and how to apply them,” said Stephen Wallenstein, executive director of the Global Capital Markets Center and a Duke professor of the practice of law, business and finance. “I was pleased to receive such positive feedback, because we work hard to make this conference unique by balancing attendees’ time between panel discussions and interactive break-out sessions where they can learn from each other’s experiences and points of view.”

Wallenstein said each of the four panels and six breakout sessions during the intensive two-day gathering was designed to help companies build shareholder confidence, improve public perception and reduce the risk of litigation by instituting procedures to foster responsible oversight. Through these sessions attendees reviewed the relationship between the CEO and the Board, the expanding scope of audit committee responsibilities, the new realities of securities litigation, hot topics in corporate governance, executive compensation, roles and responsibilities of independent directors and board responses to company crisis events.

“Directors need to be challenging and inquisitive; they must ask hard questions. This conference is intended to help these executives address complex issues with their peers and hopefully return to their corporations with new ideas,” Wallenstein said.

“While serving on a number of boards in the last 15 years, including six public boards currently, with five chair assignments, I was still enlightened, enlarged and enlivened by the substance and style of this program. World class law and business school faculty in combination with fine outside speakers produces a terrific and highly relevant curriculum,” said Robert Kamerschen, board member with R.H. Donnelley.

The next opportunity to attend a DEI is March 16 — 18, 2005. The conference is accredited by Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) as a Preferred Boardroom Education Program. Directors attending this program will receive an upward adjustment to their Corporate Governance Quotient™ (CGQ™) as determined by ISS. In addition to DEI, the Institute also offers tailored programs delivered at a company’s headquarters. These on-site programs assist boards in developing best practices, but are not ISS accredited. Read more about DEI and the Global Capital Markets Center.