Washington University Trustees elect Jai Nagarkatti as a new trustee

Jai Nagarkatti, president and chief executive officer of Sigma-Aldrich, was elected to the Board of Trustees at Washington University in St. Louis at its meeting May 4, according to Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. In addition, the trustees reappointed two former board members and reelected seven others.

The trustees received a briefing from Kimberly G. Walker, the University’s new chief investment officer, and from Trustee John H. Biggs, former chairman and CEO of TIAA-CREF and chair of the Washington University Investment Management Company. The briefing focused on the oversight and management of the University’s endowment.

In his report to the trustees, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton focused upon the upcoming McDonnell International Scholars Academy Symposium on Energy and the Environment being held May 4-7 on the campus. He noted that 12 CEOs of partner universities in Asia and the Middle East will be attending this seminal event, along with about 40 other global academic leaders. Keynote addresses are being given by the Honorable Thomas R. Pickering, former Ambassador to the United Nations; Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences; Hugh Grant, chairman, president and CEO of the Monsanto Company; and Professor John C. Crittenden, of Arizona State University.

Wrighton briefed the trustees on the “US News & World Report” rankings of graduate and professional programs, noting that 20 schools and academic areas now hold top-ten rankings. The School of Medicine maintained its fourth-place position, and continues to be number one in the nation in student selectivity.

The schedule for the University-wide strategic planning process was announced, culminating in a trustee retreat in mid-2009. Wrighton also reported on the status of undergraduate admissions, which is experiencing yet another record year for applications. He reviewed plans for commencement ceremonies, updated progress on facilities, and congratulated the athletics program on another outstanding year.

Election of trustees and appointment of student representatives

The University’s newest trustee, Jai Nagarkatti, has served as president and CEO of Sigma-Aldrich since January 1, 2006, when he was promoted from his position as president and chief operating officer at the corporation. Nagarkatti has served for 29 years at Sigma-Aldrich and has worked in research and development, production, operations, sales, and marketing. Previously he served as president of Sigma-Aldrich’s largest research division and of the fine chemicals business.

Nagarkatti is a US citizen who was born in Hyderabad, India. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in chemistry at Osmania University in Hyderabad and then a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Texas A&M University. Sigma-Aldrich is a St. Louis company operating in 35 countries with over 6,800 employees worldwide.

Two former trustees, Floyd E. Bloom and Shinichiro Watari, were reelected to the board for four-year terms. Bloom is chair of the department of neuropharmacology at the Scripps Research Institute in LaJolla, California, and Watari is chairman of Cornes & Co., Ltd. of Hong Kong.

Reelected to regular terms on the board were: Maxine Clark, chief executive bear, Build-A-Bear Workshop; Stephen Distler, retired managing director and treasurer of Warburg Pincus, LLC; Robert E. Hernreich, owner of the Arizona Rattlers and co-owner of the Sacramento Kings; Louis G. Hutt, Jr., managing member of Bennett, Hutt & Co., LLC; William B. Neaves, president and CEO of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research; Barbara Schaps Thomas, senior vice president and chief financial officer of HBO Sports; and Ann Rubenstein Tisch, founder of the Young Women’s Leadership Schools & the Young Women’s Leadership Foundation.

Richard F. Ford was elected as an emeritus trustee. He is director of D&K Healthcare Resources, Inc.

The trustees re-elected its current slate of officers for the 2007-08 term. Remaining as chairman is David W. Kemper, chairman, president and CEO of Commerce Bancshares, Inc. Continuing as vice chairmen of the board are: John F. McDonnell, retired chairman of the board of the McDonnell Douglas Corporation and Stephen F. Brauer, CEO of Hunter Engineering.

Appointed as undergraduate student representatives to the board were: Kristopher R. Kelley, Arts & Sciences class of ’08, and Kimia H. Ferdowski, College of Art class of ’08 in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. The graduate and professional student representatives are: Emma B. Cottler, MBA class of ’08 in the Olin School of Business, and Elliott M. Weiss, School of Medicine class of ’10. Undergraduate representatives completing their terms on the board were: Arthur J. (AJ) Singletary, Arts & Sciences, class of ’08, and Richard Zernickow, Engineering class of ’07. The outgoing graduate/professional student representatives were Andrew Butler, psychology in Arts & Sciences, and Melanie Cheers, Medicine.

The chancellor took special care to thank Harriet Switzer for her 27 years of service to Washington University and for her role as secretary to the Board of Trustees.

Trustees also received reports from the following standing committees: nominating, compensation, development, educational policy, honorary degree, medical finance, University finance, audit, and the Alumni Board of Governors.

The meeting ended with the trustees approving the granting of degrees at commencement on May 18.

This article will appear in the June 14 print Record.