Curtis H. Barnette (‘56 BA)
Curtis H. Barnette, born in St. Albans, W.Va., came to West Virginia University in 1952 on a Benedum Scholarship. Before graduating in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, he had distinguished himself as a student leader on campus. In 1955, he served as student body president and ROTC cadet colonel. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi, Sphinx, Mountain, and Phi Beta Kappa.
In 1956, he became a Fulbright Scholar studying international law at Manchester University in England. From 1957-59, he served as a counterintelligence officer for the U.S. Army in Frankfurt, Germany, and as lecturer at the Frankfurt Branch of the University of Maryland.
He entered Yale Law School in 1959 earning his degree in 1962. Upon graduation, he joined the law firm of Wiggin and Dana, where he remained until 1967. During this time he also served on the faculty of Yale Law School as a law tutor.
On November 1, 1992, Barnette was named chairman and chief executive officer of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. In 2000, he joined Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom LLP.
He began his extensive career with the company by joining its legal department as an attorney in 1967. He was promoted to general attorney in 1970, elected assistant secretary and appointed assistant general counsel in 1972, and named assistant to the vice president in 1974. He completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University Business School in 1975 and became secretary and assistant vice president in 1976.
In 1977, he was elected vice president, law and general counsel and retained his position of secretary of the corporation. He was elected senior vice president in 1985 with responsibility for law and for corporate public and government affairs, and continued as general counsel and secretary. In 1986, in connection with negotiations for a new restructured labor contract with the United Steelworkers of America, Barnette was designated as chairman of the Bethlehem Negotiating Committee. He was elected a director of the corporation the same year.
He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as a member of the Council of the Administrative conference of the United States in 1988; by President George Bush to the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations in 1989; and by Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole as a member of the Coal Commission in 1990.
Barnette is admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia and before the U.S. Supreme Court and various federal courts.
He has served as president, Association of General Council; chairman, American Society of Corporate Secretaries; vice chairman, Yale Law School Fund; and member, New York Stock Exchange Legal Advisory Committee.
He served as chairman of the WVU Foundation Board of Directors and the WVU Board of Governors; vice chairman, Foundation for a Drug Free Pennsylvania; vice chairman, Pennsylvania Business Roundtable; director, American Iron and Steel Institute; director, International Iron and Steel Institute; and director, WLVT-TV, Channel 39.