IN THE NEWS
2014 DCEO Excellence in Corporate Governance Award
Corporate governance essentially means the system by which a company is run. And if you need to get up to speed on it, there is one person in North Texas to call: Dennis McCuistion.
He’s a clinical professor and executive director at the Institute for Excellence in Corporate Governance at the University of Texas at Dallas. Having served on both public and private boards in a career that stretches back to the 1960s, McCuistion has learned a thing or two about what makes corporate boards work-and what makes them dysfunctional as well.
“It’s a question of teaching, mentoring, and sharing our lessons,” he says. Those he’s teaching-whether they’re students or real-world board members-“don’t have to make the same mistakes we made. They can make new ones.”
Much of the reading in McCuistion’s courses, in addition to textbooks, includes The Wall Street Journal. Many students “don’t read anything in newspapers,” he says. “They don’t know what the heck is going on.”
He also works with the National Association of Corporate Directors, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group whose aims include improving boards. “I’m in the boardroom, educating people who don’t think they need any educating,” he says.
Here’s the good news from McCuistion’s perspective: corporate boards are getting better at governance. Mindful of fiascos ranging from Enron to WorldCom and of resulting laws such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, boards are improving the quality of their work, he says.
“The whole idea of corporate governance before the year 2000 [had] an entirely different set of dynamics than today,” he says. “Boards do much better than they used to, which is great.” -J.B.
Bravery in Business
John Allison is about the only business executive (now think tank head) with the guts to write about the true causes of our continued financial crises (“Mr. Allison Goes to Washington,” November/December 2013). The world of crony capitalism is led by the big Wall Street banks and the Washington politicians and lobbyists, and the fact that the Fed turned 100 years old in December should remind us of the problems with power. Allison is one of only a few directors who will stand up and do what’s right, even if it’s not politically correct. With so many public companies doing work for the federal government , there are few left who can stand up for free market capitalism. He knows that our problems are due to a faulty philosophy – that of collectivism – and that only free markets and free minds can change that.
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