Northwestern University
Dean Blount's Blog

Looking Back, Looking Forward
October 8, 2010

I had the privilege of attending the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C. this week, where I caught up with two Kellogg CEO alumni—Ellen Kullman '83 at DuPont and Barb Hulit '91 at Fluke, a division of Danaher. I also sat in a conference session led by Warren Buffett, who was filled with his typical candor, wit and insight. At one point, he made the thought-provoking observation that he's been alive for one-third of the life of our country—a vivid reminder of just how comparatively young the U.S. is.

  Leaders for the 21st century
  Leaders for the 21st century: In Evanston this week, we had a terrific first-time event where the community celebrated all of Kellogg's scholarship recipients.

This made me reflect on Kellogg’s legacy and how my own professional history is so intertwined in it. The school is 102 years old, though it didn’t get much notice on the national and international stages until the late 1980s, about 25 years ago, as I was beginning my own graduate studies here. Since then we have experienced a "generation" of incredible success as Kellogg has firmly established itself among the top U.S.-based management schools in the world. We've done this through innovative teaching and cutting edge research.

This fall I've had many energizing conversations with students, alumni, faculty and administrators who share my passion for Kellogg and are eager to help usher the school into its second generation of excellence and success. In the course of these conversations, I’m frequently asked what this next phase will look like and how we will get there. While I think it’s premature to fully speculate before we embark on a formal strategic planning process in 2011, I can make several observations. Most importantly, to thrive in this century Kellogg will need to educate managers and future leaders who have the capacity to navigate unprecedented levels of social and economic complexity and uncertainty. To do this, we will need to equip these managers with a clear understanding of the power (and drawbacks) of markets balanced with an understanding of the nuances and pragmatics of effective management. These leaders will need to be locally grounded, investing in their communities, and globally attuned, understanding their decisions will have ripple effects across the world. They will need to be courageous--willing to stand for their convictions while having the pluck to take wise and bold risks. 

I believe that Kellogg's heritage of the last generation uniquely equips us to take on these challenges. We are a school that has long valued the power of the team, the organization and the community in making change happen--recognizing that even the most charismatic and creative leaders can't effect positive change without a strong organization behind them; we are school that attracts grounded young managers who have bold ambitions; we are a school that wasn't shy about going a different way in the 1980s to create a new model of education that all of our peers eventually followed.  

We have much to work with as we launch Kellogg into its second generation of excellence and innovation in management research and education. It's an exciting time to be at the helm.

I welcome your comments, feedback and ideas at

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