The Berle Center Colloquium Series

1. The Berle Center
Founded in 2009, The Adolf A. Berle, Jr. Center follows in the footsteps of its namesake - Adolf Berle, one of the twentieth century's great public intellectuals. As did Berle, the Center focuses on the nature of the modern corporation and its impact on individuals and society.  The Center is directed by corporate governance expert, Professor Charles R. T. O'Kelley  -  and is housed at Seattle University.  The Center hosts annually a truly interdisciplinary academic symposium featuring leading scholars from around the world in the fields of law, economics, history, political science, sociology and anthropology;

Berle Colloquium Leadership Team

  • Stewart Landefeld, Lead Chair
  • Bill Chandler, Co-Chair
  • Gilchrist Sparks, III, Honorary Co-Chair
  • Jesse Finkelstein, Honorary Co-Chair
  • Karl Ege
  • Norm Veasey
  • Carol Hansell
  • John Olson
  • John Seethoff
  • Chuck O'Kelley

2. Concept of the Corporate Governance Colloquium

For the past decade, Seattle University conducted a well regarded public company director training program, working closely with corporate governance leaders in the Pacifc Northwest, under the founding and continuing leadership of the National Chair, Stewart Landefeld. (Chair of Business Practice, Perkins Coie.  In the fall of 2010, the Berle Center undertook a reexamination of this program.  With the guidance of Stewart Landefeld, the leadership team was expanded to include national honorary Co-Chairs, William B. Chandler III, (then Chancellor of Delaware Court of Chancery), Jesse Finkelstein (of counsel to Richards, Layton and Finger), and Gil Sparks,(of counsel to Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell ). This group assisted the Berle Center in conceptualizing a bold new initiative: To Create a truly unique annual corporate governance colloquium - a place for an "interdesciplinary" conversation among thought leaders in the US corporate governace community.

3. Perceived value of Colloquium: A conversation among 6 groups
The Berle Center Governace Colloquium seeks by hosting representatives of 6 groups -

  • The judiciary;
  • Public company directors;
  • Academics;
  • General counsel;
  • External counsel; and

Members of the legislative, executive, or regulatory brances of govenment
to create a forum in which academics (whose scholarship seeks to influence behavior in the board room), judges (who with their decisions, set norms for Board governance), Directors (who must do their best in often confusing and rapidly moving situations), general counsel (who advise directors and executives), together with external counsel or advisors, and government officials, can discuss five to six issues of current importance.

For example,

  • an academic may present a paper that she has been writing
  • a director may discuss some trend or change in corporate governance that she sees from her truly unique perspective
  • an outside advisor may initiate a conversation about corporate goverance, around one or more of the really important cases she has been involved in; or
  • a judge may reflect about some common flaw in human nature or the regulatory system that he sees influencing corporate governance

4. Defining a sucessful outcome 

We define a successful outcome as; "Creating a place for conversation that does not currently occur - perhaps for lack of venue - among those actively involved in the life of corporate governance."  In addition, we would hope that the colloquium stimulates further conversations and research, and, perhaps, that one or more publishable papers would result from presentations given at the Berle Center Colloquium.  Importantly, we see the annual Berle Colloquium as a most fitting memorial to Adolf Berle, who in his long career served at one time or another in all of the roles of our target participants.  Adolf Berle enjoyed a good conversation, and an informed debate.  As Berle famously noted: "The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge."  For us, then, a successful event is one that Adolf Berle would have found valuable and loved attending.









Sullivan Hall