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These 30 colleges produced the most current Fortune 500 CEOs

University of Wisconsin mascot, Bucky Badger

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

University of Wisconsin mascot, Bucky Badger

According to Kittleman, the University of Wisconsin is the top CEO-producer, with 14 alumni who are current Fortune 500 CEOs. The split between public and private universities is roughly even, and 12.4 percent of CEOs attended Big Ten schools. Large schools, like those in the Big Ten Conference, are at a statistical advantage when it comes to this ranking, simply because of the sheer size of their alumni base.

Researchers from the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and labor market analytics firm Emsi recently analyzed over 36 million resumes and found that liberal arts graduates have significant advantages in the labor market of tomorrow. Specifically, they found that the skills traditionally associated with liberal arts programs — such as critical thinking, communication and creativity — are among the most in-demand by employers, and that graduates of liberal arts institutions show the fastest wage growth in their 30s and 40s.

“We were most intrigued by the smaller institutions,” says King, “like Union College, Bucknell University and Lehigh University, perhaps evidence that a foundation in liberal arts and research is important to developing strong leaders.”

Additionally, prestigious Ivy League schools like Harvard and flagship state schools like the University of Michigan are difficult to get into and have high standards for the students who are admitted, which means that they may be educating students who were already destined for greatness.

“There is no single factor that makes someone a great executive,” says King. “It’s a combination of education and experience of course, but it’s also measured by traits such as humility, integrity, emotional intelligence, empathy, judgement, to name a few. Understanding which institutions are building both the industry expertise as well as these leadership traits is helpful to us in identifying and understanding the motivations of great leaders.”

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