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BU has 12th wealthiest college graduates globally

Boston University has the 12th highest number of financially successful graduates globally, and 11th highest of all U.S. private universities, according to a report released Thursday.

Among BU’s graduates, there are 491 individuals who have a net worth of at least $30 million when considering their shares in private and public companies, properties and other assets, according to the report by the wealth analysis group Wealth-X. Harvard University was ranked first, with 2,964 individuals above a $30 million net worth.

“American universities have been lighthouses of global human capital,” said David Friedman, president and co-founder of Wealth-X. “It [having successful alumni] creates a virtuous cycle between all of those factors — an ecosystem of success, human capital and prosperity.”

The total net worth of BU graduates is $38 billion, and the total net worth of Harvard graduates is $622 billion, according to the report.

Both undergraduate and graduate degrees were considered in the report. Of wealthy BU alumni, 52 percent are self-made, while 21 percent inherited their wealth. The remaining 27 percent made their wealth by a combination of the two. 13 percent are female while the remaining 87 percent are male.

Friedman said the alumni network and career centers at BU and other highly ranked schools contribute to having wealthy alumni, as well as school officials’ dedication to bringing in talented international students.

“So much of life is who you know, not what you know — the fabric of life is relationships,” he said. “If you look at global talent and tracking that, and providing an environment of freedom [to international students], the top universities are harvesting that.”

BU Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Scott Nichols said he was not surprised by the findings of the study, especially based on the quality of the School of Management.

“In government, the arts, education, religion and other fields, BU grads have been successful for a very long time,” Nichols said in an email. “This includes the world of business. With one of the oldest and most accomplished management schools, it is no surprise that we are among the top schools of financially successful alumni.”

While SMG is one of the top management schools in the country, there are financially successful graduates from each of BU’s colleges, Nichols said.

“Wealth in our alumni ranks is certainly more concentrated from the schools where business, technology and science are taught,” Nichols said.  “But it would be misleading to think one specific field of study leads to wealth accumulation.”

Grace Baker, an SMG junior, said she is skeptical of gaining financial success as a direct result of going to BU.

“I wonder if the rankings have to do a lot with family money at private schools especially at BU,” she said. “Although it’s a good sign for us if we have a degree from BU.”

Baker said the findings reflect well on BU, in a manner similar to the 2012 Global Employability Study released by The New York Times in October, which ranked BU graduates the 17th most employable internationally and seventh most employable domestically.

“It [having wealthy graduates] will make the school more appealing to students and people applying — especially to parents,” Baker said. “Even if BU and the wealth of its graduates do not have a correlation, it sounds good.”

Annie Tillis, a College of General Studies sophomore, said the study makes her hopeful for her future after graduation.

“I’m glad to hear that because it means that maybe there is some hope for the rest of us,” Tillis said. “BU has had some trouble with the press but this [wealth ranking] and the employability study from a few months ago should help. They help me anyway.”

Tyler Wiest, an SMG junior, said it is important to note attending BU does not ensure wealth.

“Congratulations to everyone on the list, but I don’t know if you can say it’s [their wealth is] because they went to BU,” he said. “It is more about what you do once you graduate, not where you graduate from.”

Margaret Waterman contributed to the reporting of this article.

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