By Paul Feinberg
On Monday, March 7, Laurence D. Fink (B.A., ’74, ’76), chairman and chief executive officer of BlackRock, Inc., received the UCLA Medal, the highest honor for extraordinary accomplishment that may be bestowed upon an individual by UCLA. Recipients have included national and international leaders in government, education, science, industry and the arts, as well as men and women who have advanced UCLA’s development into one of the world’s preeminent universities. Past recipients include President Bill Clinton; film producer and director Francis Ford Coppola (MFA ’67); architect Frank Gehry; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (B.A. ’77), Coach John Wooden and, most recently, author, professor and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.
Fink has led BlackRock since its founding in 1988. Fast forward to the end of 2015, when BlackRock controlled a staggering $4.6 trillion worth of assets. Fink was named “CEO of the Decade” by Financial News in 2011 and Barron’s named him one of the “World’s Best CEOs” for nine consecutive years. In 2006, he led BlackRock’s merger with Merril Lynch Investment Managers, a transaction that doubled the company’s asset management portfolio. Two years later, the government of the United States contracted with BlackRock to help clean up the financial meltdown of 2008. In 2009, BlackRock purchased Barclays Global Investors, the move that made BlackRock the largest money-management firm on the planet.
Prior to founding BlackRock in 1988, Fink was a member of the management committee and a managing director of The First Boston Corporation. He joined First Boston in 1976 after earning his MBA at UCLA and quickly became one of the first mortgage-backed securities traders on Wall Street. He also started the financial futures and options department and headed the mortgage and real estate products group.
Fink serves as a member of the board of trustees of New York University and is co-chairman of the NYU Langone Medical Center Board of Trustees. He also serves on the boards of the Museum of Modern Art, the Council on Foreign Relations and Robin Hood, a New York City charitable organization. He is also an executive committee member of the Partnership for New York City, which works to engage the business community in efforts to advance the city’s economy and maintain its position as the center of world commerce, finance and innovation.
In 2008, Larry and his wife, Lori, endowed UCLA Anderson’s Center for Finance & Investments with a $10 million gift. The center was renamed the Laurence D. and Lori W. Fink Center for Finance & Investments in recognition of their generosity.
Earlier in the day, Fink joined UCLA Anderson Dean Judy Olian for a conversation as part of Anderson’s Dean’s Distinguished Speakers Series. Look for a recap of the DDSS on the UCLA Anderson blog on March 9.
The official citation for the UCLA Medal reads as follows:
LAURENCE D. FINK
An extraordinary champion of business, you have been instrumental in changing the world of finance. Through your superior understanding of the evaluation and management of risk, you have enhanced the lives of the many people who turn to you for strategic counsel. As founder, chairman and CEO of the world’s largest asset management firm, you are an unparalleled innovator and leader in investment strategy. An exemplary alumnus of UCLA, you have generously shared with your alma mater both your remarkable talent and insight and your philanthropic support. For your uncommon wisdom, exceptional business acumen and magnanimous demonstration of the values that are the bedrock of UCLA, we proudly bestow upon you the UCLA Medal.
Given at UCLA this seventh day of March, two thousand and sixteen.
GENE D. BLOCK
University of California, Los Angeles