Corporate governance center launched

$10 million gift from Rocks funds effort to study issues such as shareholder rights

The Law School has launched a new center to study corporate governance with the help of a $10 million gift from pioneering venture capitalist Arthur Rock and his wife, Toni Rembe Rock.

The Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance will be headed by law school Professors Joseph Grundfest and Robert M. Daines. Grundfest, the W. A. Franke Professor of Law and Business, served as a commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 1985 to 1990. Daines, the Pritzker Professor of Law and Business, is a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs.

The Rock Center will study issues such as shareholder rights, executive pay and the auditing industry. It will create new teaching materials and launch an open-source database that will provide information about the governance characteristics of major publicly traded corporations. The center also will sponsor programs designed to deepen the understanding of the governance process, support governance-related education and work to improve governance around the world.

The first of these programs, in the "Governance and the Regulators" conference series, will be held April 3 in Washington, D.C., to address the SEC's proposed executive compensation disclosure rules.

The establishment of the center, the first of its kind on the West Coast, comes after corporate scandals involving large companies such as Enron, WorldCom and Tyco caused huge losses for shareholders and brought issues such as accounting fraud into the public eye.

Rock, a major player in the development of Silicon Valley, helped found technology companies such as Apple Computer, Intel, Scientific Data Systems and Teledyne. "Investment is about trust," Rock said. "It's about knowing that the people investors entrust with their money are running ethical, transparent and effective businesses."

Law School Dean Larry Kramer said, "It is imperative to restore public trust in business and to do so in a way that fuels rather than impedes growth. The resources that can be brought to bear at Stanford—in law, business, economics and engineering—will enable us to tackle problems in new ways."