Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), the fifth- biggest U.S. bank by assets, added Debora L. Spar, president of the women-only liberal arts school Barnard College, to its board at a meeting today in London.
Spar, who turned 48 today, will sit on the audit, risk, compensation and corporate governance and nominating committees, New York-based Goldman Sachs said in a statement. She joined New York’s Barnard College in July 2008 after 17 years on the faculty of Harvard Business School.
Goldman Sachs, which was the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history before the 2008 financial collapse, has been a target of regulatory and political investigations since then. The firm paid $550 million last year to settle a civil fraud suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission and has denied claims by a U.S. Senate subcommittee this year that the firm misled clients into buying mortgage-linked securities.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein’s wife, Laura, is a Barnard College alumna and is listed on the school’s website as a member of the board of trustees. She has resigned that post, Stephen Cohen, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, said today. The Lloyd & Laura Blankfein Foundation donated $50,000 to Barnard College in fiscal 2010, which ended Jan. 31, 2010, and $25,000 in the previous year, according to the nonprofit’s federal tax filings.
“Debora’s valuable and independent perspective on finance and business, emerging markets and recruitment, particularly of women, will be a tremendous asset for Goldman Sachs in the years ahead,” Lloyd Blankfein said in the statement.
Blankfein, 56, has been seeking new board members since the departures of Brown University President Ruth Simmons in May 2010 and former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) CEO H. Lee Scott last month. Spar, who will join Lois D. Juliber as one of two female board members, brings the number of Goldman Sachs directors to 11, including 9 independent members.
Independent board members who served throughout the full year 2010 were granted Goldman Sachs stock worth $478,284, or $503,287 for the directors who served as committee chairs, according to the bank’s annual proxy filing. Goldman Sachs has dropped more than 18 percent this year on the New York Stock Exchange, compared with the 7 percent decline in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index.
Salary and Benefits
Spar received $279,688 in salary and non-taxable benefits in the year ended June 30, 2009, Barnard’s most recent public tax filing shows.
All of Goldman Sachs’s independent board members, or their family members, are involved in tax-exempt organizations that have business relationships with Goldman Sachs and that receive charitable donations from Goldman Sachs or the firm’s employees, according to the company’s latest proxy filing.
Stephen Friedman, who has served as an independent director since April 2005, worked at Goldman Sachs from 1966 until 1994, when he left as the firm’s senior partner and management committee chairman, the proxy shows.
At Harvard Business School, Spar served as a senior associate dean for recruiting for a year, as chair of the Business, Government and the International Economy unit from 1999 to 2004, and taught courses on the politics of international business and comparative capitalism and economic development.
“Hopefully, I will be able to bring to the board my knowledge of the global economy and in particular emerging markets,” Spar said in a telephone interview. “I also hope to be able to draw upon the subject I’ve studied throughout my career, which is the overlap between firms and government in the international economy.”
At Harvard, she also served as chairwoman of a university committee on human rights and chairwoman and creator of Making Markets Work, a program to develop leaders in the private and public sectors in African nations.
“I find Goldman to be a particularly interesting company to be part of, given how involved they are with the international economy,” Spar said. “It was a firm that fit my background and interests well.”
Barnard College’s endowment was valued at $187 million as of June 30, 2010, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute. The college’s endowment ranked 249th among 865 schools ranked by the institute. Harvard, the richest U.S. university, had $27.6 billion in its endowment.
Simmons joined Goldman Sachs’s board in January 2000 while she was president of Smith College, a women’s liberal arts school in Northampton, Massachusetts. She is president of Brown in Providence, Rhode Island, and sits on the board of Texas Instruments Inc.
University presidents are often tapped to serve as corporate directors.
Barnard is an affiliate of Columbia University, whose president, Lee Bollinger, sits on the board of Washington Post Co.
Shirley Tilghman, president of Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, is a director at Google Inc., in Mountain View, California. John Hennessy, president of Stanford University near Palo Alto, California, is a Google Inc. (GOOG) corporate director and also sits on the board of Cisco Systems Inc.