After almost 40 years, PTMBA Associate Dean Vennie Lyons to retire
By Chris Serb '09
It's hard to imagine Kellogg's Part-Time MBA Program without Associate Dean Vennie Lyons '72 at the helm. After 39 years, Lyons, the only director Part-Time students have ever known, is retiring.
Lyons had just earned his own MBA from Kellogg in 1972 when then-Dean John A. Barr invited him to head the school's evening program, which was undergoing a metamorphosis in the wake of the Full-Time MBA Program's move from the Chicago campus to its current location in Evanston.
"I didn't know anything about educational administration, but with my background in industrial engineering, my Kellogg MBA and mentors such as Associate Dean Edmund Wilson, I felt I could provide effective leadership to any type of organization," Lyons recalls. "I felt like an entrepreneur starting a new business venture."
And in a sense he was. During his time as associate dean, the Part-Time MBA Program expanded dramatically, from 400 students to more than 1,000. Through it all, Lyons strived to ensure that the caliber of the students, the academic offerings and the extracurricular opportunities were on par with the Full-Time MBA Program.
"More than anything, we wanted to make sure that the Part-Time MBA Program was a world-class experience," Lyons says, tipping his hat not only to the enthusiasm of the students, but also to the "continued support of the dean's office, the faculty and the Kellogg administrative team."
Lyons' agenda helped to shape and define the Part-Time MBA experience for generations of students.
"Dean Lyons felt a need to create a strong sense of community in the Part-Time Program," says Megan Byrne Krueger '90, a Part-Time graduate who is now assistant dean and director of Part-Time student affairs. "He expanded it from a few random events to dozens of clubs and hundreds of activities. He greatly enriched the students' experiences." Recently, Lyons oversaw the addition of the Saturday program to the Part-Time MBA offerings.
Kellogg Dean Sally Blount says Lyons' "quiet, thoughtful and effective style of leadership" will be missed.
"Throughout his career at Kellogg, Vennie has been wholeheartedly dedicated to the school and specifically to the Part-Time Program and its students," Blount says. "He has been a constant advocate for the program and has been dedicated to its ongoing excellence across all dimensions of the experience."
On a personal level, he enjoyed the satisfaction of watching his son Vennie Lyons II, vice president at a Chicago-based investment management firm, complete the Part-Time Program in 2010. "One of the highlights of my 40 years was to see him walk across the stage, and congratulate him as he received his Kellogg degree," Lyons says.
Although he will no longer roam Wieboldt Hall every day, Lyons has no plans to slow down. He plans to assist the administration through the transition to his successor, and will spend this summer as curriculum director for the Kellogg LEAD Program, which exposes minority high-school students to business education.
Kellogg hasn't announced any succession plans yet, but one fact is clear to Lyons' colleagues.
"Dean Lyons has always been a real champion for the Part-Time student at Kellogg," Krueger says. "Someone may fill the same role, but I don't think that Vennie is 'replaceable' at all.