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Slade Gorton
Political leader

Slade Gorton

A former U.S. Senator and Washington State Attorney General, Slade Gorton served on the 9/11 Commission.

Liability for elected leaders

Q: Elena Kagan's nomination has raised the prospect of an "all-Ivy" Supreme Court. Is it a good idea for any institution, or any sector of society, to rely so heavily on a handful of elite universities to educate and train its leaders?

I see no evidence that the Ivy League trains leaders; it does, however, educate them.

First, of course, its student body is chosen from the best educated and highest achieving teens in the country. Next, for four (or seven or eight) years, those students are exposed to people on the same fast track with whom they are likely to maintain contact throughout their careers. Finally, the already successful alumni networks provide a huge advantage to the Ivy graduates both immediately after graduation and thereafter.

Nevertheless, these advantages play a far greater role in appointed leadership positions than they do in elected offices. While some elected leaders have Ivy League backgrounds, few flaunt it and many disguise it; an education at a state university is more likely to be the base from which elected leaders spring.

By Slade Gorton

 |  May 18, 2010; 5:58 AM ET
Category:  Leadership development Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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