Over the course of his career, he served as CME chairman for three separate terms. He was a member of the CME for more than 45 years.
Sandner also served as special policy advisor to CME Holdings' board from August 2001 to October 2005 and to CME's board from January 1998 to October 2005. Previously, he served as chairman of CME's board for 13 years. He was chairman of the CME when the CME and Matif conducted a historic technology swap, swapping the CME's Clearing 21 clearing system in return for the SBF-Paris Bourse's NSC electronic trading system..
Sandner was president and CEO of RB&H Financial Services, L.P., which later became a division of MF Global, Inc., from 1985 to 2003.
Sandner was a trustee of The University of Notre Dame, Rush University Medical Center, The Museum of Science and Industry of Chicago, and the Shedd Aquarium. He was chairman of The Cancer Institute at Rush University Medical Center and sat on the boards of the National Futures Association and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. He also was a member of the Economic Club of Chicago.
In 2007, Sandner donated to John McCain 2008 Inc., Hillary Clinton for President, Romney for President and Friends of Richard Durbin Committee.
Sandner graduated as valedictorian from high school and received a bachelor of arts degree from Southern Illinois University. He held a doctor of jurisprudence degree from University of Notre Dame, where he also received the Law School’s Dean Clarence Manion and A. Harold Weber Awards and won the 3-year moot-court competition. While at Notre Dame, he earned a fellowship to the Law Science Academy, where he won the Dr. Ruth Jackson Award and graduated with high honors. In May 1994, Roosevelt University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
In 1998 Sandner was a recipient of the Horatio Alger Award, and the CME named an endowed chair “Chicago Mercantile Exchange John F. Sandner Chair in Futures and Options Studies” at Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
In 2006, the University of Notre Dame awarded Sandner an honorary degree. Sandner and his family funded the single largest purchase of materials in the history of the Kresge Law Library, creating the John F. Sandner Family Law Library Collection, when the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) made its entire collection available for sale.
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