Kellogg, social bonds are as important as stocks and bonds.
Steve Robb Photography
Among those contributing their perspectives on the Kellogg
culture are (left panel, clockwise from back left):
Andrew McDill '02, Associate Dean for Student Affairs
Ed Wilson '84, Ursula Wright '01, GMA 2000 President
Brian Poger '01, Rob Barry '01, Director of Development
Liz Livingston Howard '93, Dean Donald Jacobs, and (right
panel) Jason Moss '01, Director of External Relations
Rich Honack '94, Assistant Dean of Administrative Services
Carole Cahill, Director of Alumni Relations Megan Byrne
'90, Kanna Kunchala '01, EMP Director Erica Kantor,
and BMA Vice President Tracy Pruitt '01.
Brownrout '98 didn't plan on launching her MBA career this
way, but when an unexpected illness kept the first-year student
sidelined at home for two weeks, the support of her new Kellogg
peers proved invaluable.
day at 5 p.m., when classes finished, I received a barrage
of well-wishing phone calls, e-mail, class notes and homework
delivered to my apartment from section mates and professors,
along with an endless supply of Jell-O and brownies,"
recalls Brownrout, the class representative for 1998.
of concern could only occur in a business school whose core
values -- the bedrock of its culture -- emphasize social bonds
in addition to stocks and bonds. A place where teamwork and
a collaborative spirit imbue the entire rich fabric of student
Glockner Seymour '84 observes: "There is something about
Kellogg that builds strong and lasting friendships, and back
in 1984 it wasn't the football team! There was wonderful energy."
says Dean Donald Jacobs, students don't sit on their hands.
They're trusted and encouraged to assume an active part in
making the school run. "There's an openness here,"
explains Jacobs, who paved the way for Kellogg's dynamic faculty-student
interaction by instituting an "open door" policy,
a communication model that permeates the school's culture.
"There's a willingness to listen to the students. These
are people with experience; they're not a bunch of 22-year-olds
who have never been out in the world. So we have a governance
issue here where students take part in running the institution."
run it they do.
nationally recognized symposia such as the Digital Frontier
Conference, to orchestrating the intensive week-long student-to-student
orientation known as CIM Week, to organizing some 100 clubs
dedicated to every kind of activity -- healthcare to hockey,
politics to philanthropy -- the students create a real legacy.
governance is what separates Kellogg from other top business
schools, according to Brian Poger, president of the Graduate
Management Association for 2000. "You bring in a set
of professionals who are in their careers five years out and
they're used to taking on challenges," notes Poger. "In
most schools, the administration [when confronted by student
initiative] says, ''That's great, but that's not your job.
We're here to teach you.' At Kellogg, they say, 'That's great,
sounds like we have 1,200 free helpers.' What the students
get out of this is practical leadership experience. That's
the beginning, culture was just a word
doesn't just happen. Kellogg had to overcome numerous obstacles
before realizing its dream of community, according to Ed Wilson,
associate dean for student affairs. He recalls the school's
virtually "nonexistent" culture of 30 years ago.
"Most of our students back then went to work, came to
school, then went home," remembers Wilson. "There
was very little student life. This was not unusual for
Graduate schools were like Marine boot camps, with administrations
who held the attitude, 'We are the school, you are the student,
we dictate the rules.' Today, Don Jacobs treats the students
this inert culture, Kellogg resorted to a novel strategy:
turning its liabilities into strengths. Three decades ago,
times were tough for the business school, Wilson recalls.
Enrollment was decent, but funding remained scarce. The recruitment
of top-flight faculty -- and, in turn, top-tier students --
was a luxury reserved for more affluent peer institutions.
Likewise, the school functioned with a very lean staff. So
Kellogg asked its students for help, enlisting them to assist
administrators in leading tours and coordinating an applicant's
on-campus visit. Students demonstrated such willingness and
skill that they gradually assumed a greater role in the school's
operation. Soon, students began helping interview applicants
-- in essence, co-determining who gained admittance to Kellogg.
was unheard of at the time, says Jacobs. "A lot of the
culture came about because of necessity," he admits.
"We were poor then. We went after younger, less expensive
faculty that we then groomed to fit our culture. In students,
we looked for the late bloomers, those who were better than
other people understood them to be. As it turned out, this
strategy created something special."
considers Jacobs "a hero who has no fear" and whose
mission has been to build a community of scholars and students.
But before Jacobs assumed the reins as dean, other pieces
of the culture puzzle first had to fall into place. In Wilson's
opinion, 1972 represents the turning point for the school's
culture. That year, the business school migrated from its
downtown Chicago campus to Evanston, where a new building
awaited. Unlike the downtown facilities which were shared
by medical, legal and business students, Leverone Hall brought
business faculty, students and staff all under one roof. The
suburban locale's green meadows and stunning lakefront views
also encouraged a sense of community largely absent on the
urban campus of the time. (Today, the Chicago campus, home
to Kellogg's evening program, is
also a bustling hub of culture.)
landmark changes, says Wilson, began with the school's former
dean, John Barr, who pushed to increase funding and develop
closer connection with business. Barr founded the school's
Alumni Advisory Board, stocking it with friends from the corporate
world who would offer guidance -- and hire graduates. Corporate
leaders began appearing as classroom guests, further cementing
the bond with the academy. Next, the school built a department
called Organization Behavior, which emphasized group learning.
This move broke new ground.
in 1972, people would look at students working in groups and
say 'I think they're cheating over there,'" laughs Wilson.
"This school took interactive learning and group project
work to new heights very quickly."
co-creating the academic landscape
Kellogg's most impressive programming has evolved as students
work with faculty to find fresh approaches to their studies.
Jason Nordin '01, GMA's 2000 vice president of academics,
explains that the secret to this interaction lies in balancing
the students' and the administration's agendas. "There's
a real art to doing this," says Nordin, who notes the
importance of GMA remaining as unbiased as possible to facilitate
collaboration with the school.
success in enhancing Kellogg's culture may be measured by
the wealth of student activities and organizations, many of
which spring up quickly in response to a perceived void in
the curriculum. "The flexibility in student life is definitely
one of the reasons I came here," says Marie-France Nuyen
'01, GMA's vice president of business development for the
last academic year. "We can be so flexible because all
of us can cite the core values easily, so we know what we
want to stay true to."
student-inspired organizations include Kellogg Outdoor Adventures
(KOA), a week of camping and social bonding in locations from
Alaska to Spain. KOA allows second-year students to transmit
the school's culture to the incoming class. Kanna Kunchala
'01, one of KOA's recent trip leaders, says students aren't
allowed to discuss either where they worked or attended college
during KOA. "There is time enough for that in Evanston,"
he says. "KOA is an opportunity to get to know each other
as individuals who bring more than a résumé to the school."
Kellogg programs exist to enhance student life. They include
the Special K Review, which allows students to demonstrate
their dramatic talent in an annual sketch comedy performance
that draws capacity crowds, and philanthropic programs such
as Business With a Heart and Kellogg Service Initiatives.
One of the most notable student course initiatives is Global
Initiatives in Management (GIM). The hugely popular class
began a decade ago in response to students' desire to test
classroom theory in a real-world setting. Today, GIM sends
hundreds of students and faculty advisers to some dozen countries
each year for two weeks of intensive field research -- and
© Nathan Mandell
Special K performers psyche up before a show.
a significant component of the Kellogg culture, and one not
confined exclusively to the student body. Erica Kantor, director
of Kellogg's Executive Master's Program (EMP) remembers learning
the importance of this element right at the start of her tenure.
"I was hired by Ed Wilson," says Kantor, "and
during my interview he ended the session saying, If you work
here, above all else, you gotta have fun!' This is my boss
ordering me to have fun!"
alongside academic rigor at Kellogg, in part thanks to the
school's informal nature -- another quality that sets it apart
from peer institutions. Says Liz Livingston Howard '93, assistant
dean and director of development: "Kellogg is about the
most informal large organization I've ever seen. There's very
little bureaucracy. The dean's open-door policy contributes
tremendously to this. Anybody can request time on his calendar,
and that's unusual for a CEO." Rich Honack '94, assistant
dean and director of external relations, concurs. "There's
an open culture here with a horizontal management style, as
opposed to a pyramid style. It's enjoyable. It's friendly.
At Kellogg, everyone's voice is heard. There's a freedom to
express your view with no fear of getting your head chopped
off if you make a suggestion."
offers so powerful a model that Honack says there's a temptation
for students to export Kellogg's interactivity into their
workplace, something that doesn't always meet with success.
The EMP-28 graduate remembers bringing work-related issues
to his Kellogg peers for discussion -- an arrangement that
produced results. "But you want most workplaces to be
like Kellogg, and they're not," Honack says. "It
can be frustrating when a potential employer tells you 'that
was a nice academic experience you had, but it won't translate
here.' I disagree. I think it can."
a cultural key
Byrne '90, assistant dean and director of alumni relations,
the Kellogg culture is about diversity. As a liberal arts
undergraduate applying to Kellogg, she wondered if her skills
would find a home among the b-school crowd. She was pleasantly
surprised. "During my interview I wasn't even sure what
to wear," laughs Byrne, who came to Kellogg after launching
a career in the fashion industry. "I didn't have any
business background. I even asked the person interviewing
me, 'Do you take people from the fashion industry?' She just
laughed. I learned that diversity was something of great value
in the Kellogg community."
that diversity informs virtually everything that occurs at
Kellogg. Perhaps it's most apparent in the array of student
organizations, including those formed around an ethnic core.
"As an African-American student at Kellogg, I've found
the community here to be an environment where I can learn
and express my views on various levels," says Tracy Pruitt
'01, vice president of the Black Management Association (BMA).
Pruitt believes the BMA offers him the chance to define himself
among his peers, something he considers "crucial to foster
the understanding necessary to survive in the business world."
Pruitt recalls being immediately impressed by the school's
culture, and its faculty. "The faculty is not here just
to teach," he says, "but to add value outside the
classroom and beyond graduation."
of the leaders of the school's Gay and Lesbian Management
Association, Robert Barry '01 also feels that diversity is
a key aspect of the Kellogg culture. "I'm always proud
to say that I and others have found Kellogg to be an extremely
accepting environment for gay and lesbian students -- largely
because the culture values acceptance in general."
can prove elusive, but for Kellogg students, it has a visceral
feel. Culture is something that surrounds them every day in
a hundred ways. It's never complete, and each incoming class
is charged with ensuring that the culture flourishes. Consequently,
there's always room for new ideas.
notes Jacobs, only works as well as it does because of the
trust between students and administrators. "You have
to have faith in the students you accept," says the dean.
"You have to be willing to trust that the kind of people
you admit to the system will not bastardize it."
Moss '01 exemplifies the prevailing attitude among the student
body. "It's not sufficient to go to class, get on closed
lists, have a solid summer internship and walk away with a
kick-ass job. If that's someone's Kellogg experience, they
have failed," insists the chair of CIM Week 2000.
is about a larger picture. That's the mystique and secret
of the school's culture."