David Nierenberg YC '75, LAW '78
Nierenberg Investment Management Company
Pictured center with his colleagues, Henry Hooper YC ’76, ’86, Vice President, the D3 Family Fund, and Cara Denver YC ’02, Partner, the D3 Family Fund.
A gift to establish the Theodore Nierenberg Professorship and the David Nierenberg Fund for Corporate Governance and Performance
"How can we get businesses to do the right thing, and investors to act like owners?" asks Jonathan Koppell, former director of the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance. The center, launched in June 2006 with the support of $20 million in gifts, has already mobilized discussion on how to accomplish this. "We're breaking new ground," says Koppell. With a wide array of projects lined up, including roundtables, conferences, multi-disciplinary research, and database development, the Millstein Center will generate debate and solutions around the critical topic of governance.
"One key is serious empirical research that tests assumptions and makes a compelling case," says Koppell. "We're adding substance behind the words, something that has been missing from many conversations."
Yale's unique ability, Koppell adds, is "to bring together different constituencies, all of whom care about governance, but who don't usually talk to each other, to bring their ideas to bear across academic and practical disciplines. We're connecting Yale's best minds from SOM, Yale Law School, the Department of Economics, and across the university, with the world's academic, policy-making, and professional communities."
David Nierenberg YC '75, LAW '78, an activist investor in microcap public companies, a philanthropist, a member of the Washington State Investment Board, and chairman of the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance Advisory Board, frames the issue in another way: "We've got to find ways to make publicly held companies more responsive to the multiple constituencies that they serve — not just the shareholders, but also the employees, the customers, and the communities in which the businesses operate." He adds, "From our many years as active investors, we know that ‘box-checking compliance' only distracts from a focus on the fundamentals. We're firm believers in the capitalist system; we're just trying to make it better and more responsive, to better serve society. And we believe, in so doing, we will make American enterprises more competitive around the world."
Henry Hooper YC '76, '86, David's colleague at D3 Family Funds, nods in agreement and describes their exacting approach to giving. "We think a lot about where we give. With the Yale endowment run so well by [Chief Investment Officer] David Swensen, what type of impact could we have with our gift? But we found that the caliber of people involved in the Millstein Center makes it a remarkable place that will leverage every dollar we give, far beyond the dollars we are contributing."