Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Summer 2001Kellogg School of Management
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  Dean Jacobs and family
© Nathan Mandell
Dean Jacobs was joined by his family, (left to right): Diane and David Jacobs, Leesah Jacobs-Givot and Ann Jacobs Kolb.

Salute to the "Dean of Deans" caps illustrious Jacobs tenure

By Matt Golosinski

On May 6, Kellogg hosted a gala dinner to salute Donald P. Jacobs, the "dean of deans." Nearly 700 guests, including Kellogg faculty, staff and students, as well as dozens of corporate leaders, CEOs and educators, attended the dinner at McGaw Memorial Hall. People traveled from as far away as Japan, France, Germany, Israel and the United Arab Emirates to honor Jacobs, who retired July 1 after a 26-year tenure as dean. Jacobs will remain a professor at Kellogg and will serve as director of the Zell Center for the Study of Decisions, Risk and Risk Perceptions, a new research center based at the school.

Praised for his intelligence, tenacity and vision in transforming Kellogg into one of the world's premier management education brands, Jacobs was honored by friends and colleagues throughout an evening that culminated in a tribute video produced by the Leo Burnett company.

Each guest received a 112-page hardbound book filled with hundreds of congratulatory letters and photographs highlighting the dean's career. Many of the notes recalled not only Jacobs' academic initiatives but also his warm, personal attributes -- especially his ability to leave an indelible impression on colleagues and their families.

Patrick Ryan '59, chairman and CEO of Aon Corp. and president of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees, served as master of ceremonies for the evening as eight esteemed guests recalled their memories of Jacobs' deanship and celebrated the man behind those professional achievements. Excerpts from the evening's speeches included the following remarks.

Jacobs with Sushant and Dipak Jain  
© Nathan Mandell
Jacobs with Sushant and Dipak Jain

Gene Lavengood, Kellogg professor emeritus of business history:
"Don Jacobs is not only the remarkable head of the Kellogg family, but probably the senior dean in the world. While there's a staggering array of publicly observed effects associated with his deanship, there is also a less conspicuous side of Don Jacobs. Early in his tenure, Don took to speaking of the school's faculty and staff as family. He called us other things too, but his favorite reference was to family. He wanted to think of us as bound together, not only in a common enterprise, but in a kind of kinship that presumes mutual care. He created a community that regards itself and everyone in it with true affection."

Henry Bienen, president of Northwestern University: "I've worked for Don Jacobs for six years and he's one of the best bosses I've ever had. All kidding aside, I had a terrific working relationship with a great dean and a tremendous institution builder. I formed a warm friendship and had my fair share of good cigars and brandy with Don...I thank him deeply for his leadership, his friendship and his great zest. We're all in your debt, Don."

Wade Fetzer '61, chairman of the Kellogg Alumni Advisory Board: "Don Jacobs is a risk-taker who doesn't believe in red tape. He can see around corners and moves quickly to address lacks. For example, he helped establish Kellogg's high-tech curriculum in three months. Don has also been the architect of the school's open culture."

Michael Miles, chairman of the Kellogg Advisory Board: "Don shares the extraordinary strengths and skills that have enabled a select few individuals to lead great institutions. He's a great listener: to students, faculty, the advisory board and recruitersŠHe has tremendous energy and is dedicated to quality in everything he does."

  Carole Cahill with Nancy and Phil Kotler
© Nathan Mandell
Carole Cahill with Nancy and Phil Kotler

Pierre Tabatoni, member of the Academie de France: "I express admiration for Don Jacobs' realism and leadership. You have made history in management...As a friend of 25 years, Don has never ceased to surprise me, and sometimes puzzle me, which is a rare gift in a friend...He maintains full authority while expecting from everyone initiative and personal drive...He has built an impressive international network in which Kellogg students are actors and ambassadors. Although he rarely uses the rhetoric of change, he's a very active proponent of change and a formidable strategist."

Joseph Levy Jr. '47, chairman of Levy Venture Management: "There is one word that best describes Don. The word is Œcaring.' He cares for his family, faculty, students, friends and co-workers. Don is the nicest person I've ever met."

Dipak Jain, representing the Kellogg faculty: "It has been a wonderful experience working with Don. I have learned a lot. Don's contributions in terms of faculty development and intellectual growth at Kellogg are especially noteworthy...Don has always emphasized that learning is a lifelong activity, and not only for business executives, but for faculty as well. He can discover the hidden skills of a faculty member to broaden that person and offer encouragement, pushing us in the right direction, away from the silos we work in...Don's intuition is always right on the mark."

David Jacobs '90, representing the family: "I remember my father's objective was to create a cohesive family at Kellogg where [both] the work comes first and the family comes first. Our family has been a part of all the [Kellogg] milestones, and [the Kellogg community] has been a part of our extended family... We're extremely proud of you, Dad, and we love you."

©2001 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University