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Sheila Slaughter and Barrett J. Taylor

In the US, trustees have linked universities to industry for at least a century. We extend existing research on this topic by exploring the ways in which “The Great Recession” reshaped trustee-mediated relationships between university and industry. We analyze university trustees’ ties to corporations at two elite universities, the University of Pittsburgh and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), by considering the number and type of affiliations that trustees held before (2005), during (2010) and after (2015) the Recession. Findings suggest that trustees of both universities remained highly connected to firms even after the Recession. However, MIT’s position was far stronger than Pitt’s after the Recession, as indicated by total ties and by the types of firms to which trustees linked the two universities. This indicated that university governance in the US reflects not only economic conditions but also factors within the field of higher education such as institutional stratification.