hold of terror
students react with resolve and compassion to the Sept. 11
attack on America
By Rebecca Lindell
© Nathan Mandell
Jain and Assistant Dean Rich Honack announced news of
the terrorist attacks as CIM Week began.
11 dawned bright and clear, a day as full of promise as the
hundreds of young men and women streaming toward the Jacobs
Center at the Kellogg School.
It was the first morning of CIM Week, Kellogg's famously spirited
orientation for new students. Nodding hello to their new classmates
, the students settled into their seats in the Owen L. Coon
Forum, excited to begin a new chapter in their lives.
Dean Emeritus Donald P. Jacobs greeted the crowd, welcoming
them to the "Kellogg culture." Laser beams swept
the auditorium. The students cheered and applauded on cue.
Dean Dipak Jain stepped up to introduce himself and describe
his vision for Kellogg's future.
The tightly choreographed show was proceeding according to
plan. But unbeknownst to the 540 new students in the auditorium,
the world outside had been violently transformed.
As Jain talked about the coming school year, one hijacked
airplane, then another, slammed into the World Trade Center
towers in New York. Soon another exploded into the Pentagon.
Millions watched the television images in horror. The nation
suddenly and irretrievably lost its sense of safety and complacency.
Jain, unaware of the unfolding drama, continued to speak.
"Did you hear what happened?" someone whispered
to section leader John Thee '02, who was standing near the
back of the room. "What are you talking about?"
"Some planes just hit the World Trade Center," the
student said. Thee ran down to the television in the student
lounge to see the carnage in progress. When he returned to
the auditorium, the news had spread to the Kellogg administrators
seated in the front row, but most of the students in the room
still had no idea what was transpiring.
Assistant Dean Rich Honack pulled aside Jon Neuhaus '02, the
CIM Week master of ceremonies, and revealed the horrible news.
"We need to figure out how to tell the students,"
Honack told Neuhaus. "You need to get out there and stall."
When Jain finished his presentation, an alarmed Neuhaus ad-libbed
that some speakers had been delayed. In the meantime, he said,
he'd take questions from audience about what to expect at
Kellogg the next two years.
Outwardly poised, Neuhaus was filled with foreboding. Finally
Honack stepped up to the podium. "As I am speaking, the
United States is under what appears to be a terrorist attack,"
Honack said. "CNN is reporting that a hijacked American
Airlines passenger jet out of Boston crashed into one tower
of the World Trade Center, while another jet just crashed
into the other tower. We have also just received word that
a bomb of some kind has gone off at the Pentagon." The
ebullient crowd fell silent.
"We are monitoring the situation closely and preparing
to bring you live reports," continued Honack. "If
any of you need to make telephone calls because you think
someone you know may be affected, please feel free to do so
now. We also have grief counselors waiting to meet with you
on the second floor in the Career Management Center."
Finally one student demanded, "Is this a joke?"
"Unfortunately, this is not a joke," replied Honack.
At that, fully a fifth of the Class of 2003 fled the room,
many frantically punching numbers on their cell phones. The
rest sat in confused, stunned silence.
students in Evanston raised more than $12,000 during a
fundraising social featuring student musicians. The money
will go to families of the alums who died in the Sept.
'03 sat in shock for a moment, holding in his mind the image
of his mother and father, both employees at the Pentagon.
"All I could hear was my heartbeat," he says. Then
he bolted the auditorium and raced toward the Student Affairs
Assistant Dean Fran Brasfield lent Aragon her cell phone,
which he used to leave a series of frantic messages on his
parents' answering machine. He spent the next few hours wandering
at the Jacobs Center and sitting in the atrium, praying for
the phone to deliver the message he longed to hear: "Your
parents are all right."
A hush at the Allen Center
It was the breakfast hour at the James L. Allen Center, and
the dining room hummed with voices from around the world.
The third day of International Live-In Week was getting under
Many of the 150 students in the building had traveled from
as far away as Hong Kong, Israel and Germany to study negotiations
and marketing strategy with their Evanston counterparts. All
were participants in Kellogg's International Executive MBA
programs, both in Evanston and at Kellogg's partner schools
A hush fell over the room. Someone had just delivered the
news that the World Trade Center had been attacked.
The students flocked to television sets around the building.
Others, who were already in class at the time, received the
news when Kellogg administrators interrupted their class.
Many made a beeline for the telephones, trying desperately
to make a connection over lines jammed by millions seeking
news about their loved ones.
"Everywhere you saw the same stare, the same shock, which
later turned to anger," recalls EMP student Roger Mason.
Outside a classroom, one student sat slumped in a chair, weeping
helplessly, his cell phone - for the moment useless - in his
The school summoned grief counselors and clergy to help the
students, even as the administration decided to continue the
IEMBA program. "You have to keep going," one Israeli
student told EMP Director Erica Kantor. "When things
like this happen, you don't miss a beat."
Absorbing the shock
The CIM Week committee, on the other hand, made the decision
to cancel most of the day's events for full-time students.
Students were encouraged to take whatever steps they needed
to deal with the tragedy unfolding in Washington, New York
and Pennsylvania, where a fourth hijacked airplane had crashed.
Many continued to try to dial out of the Jacobs Center. Others
spent hours in front of video screens in R.L. Coon Forum and
in classrooms, transfixed and desperate for more information.
Some visited the clergy and counselors the school had brought
in. Others called local hospitals to find out how soon they
could donate blood.
Some sections remained together and proceeded with introductions
in somber sessions devoid of the cheering that characterizes
CIM Week. But most sections broke up for the remainder of
Many students needed the time to absorb the enormity of the
tragedy. Some were not convinced by Honack's assurance that
the events were real.
Clinton Kent '03 was among them. "At first I thought
it was a really bad CIM Week joke that they do every year,"
he said. "An entirely inappropriate joke, but a joke."
The thought flashed in his mind that this might be a crisis
management simulation, with sections being called upon to
determine how best to save New York and Washington.
"I knew CIM Week was intense, and I thought it was part
of the show-biz of it all," Kent says. "It literally
happened half an hour into the presentations that morning;
it was a perfect time for them to do something like this."
It wasn't until he called a local hospital to ask about donating
blood and the operator referred to the "national tragedy"
that Kent came fully to terms with the enormity of the situation.
Many other students found themselves in the same state of
disbelief. "It was the first day of CIM Week, and the
surroundings were so new," says Tracy Eckert '03. "It
just didn't seem real."
Acceptance came as she stood on tiptoes in the student lounge
to catch a glimpse of the collapsed twin towers on television.
The sounds of muffled weeping filled the room.
Getting the news in London
Seven thousand miles away, 21 students in The Managers' Program
had just arrived at London's Gatwick Airport from Barcelona.
The students were racing to make a connecting flight to Stockholm
for the second leg of their Global Initiatives in Management
trip to Europe. "Wow, two planes just went into the World
Trade Center," the students overheard several airport
"We had no idea what they meant," says faculty advisor
Marc Ventresca, assistant professor of management and organizations.
They quickly found out.
Several students with family and friends at or near the World
Trade Center began trying to dial out of the airport. They
couldn't get through. The group sought to remain calm and
consider its options. Should they fly home immediately? Or
continue on to Sweden?
The group decided to continue the trip, although students
who wanted to return home were given the opportunity to do
so. Soon that option was taken away as well, as Gatwick officials
began to shut down the airport. "The group decided Stockholm
would be a better place to be than a London hotel," Ventresca
When they arrived in Sweden, the group found itself the focus
of compassion from strangers and GIM contacts alike.
"People kept coming up to us and saying, 'I'm so sorry,'"
Ventresca says. "The Europeans very clearly seemed to
identify with us. They have been the targets of terrorism
too, and they understand the horror of it."
Facing a new world
By 2:30 p.m., Aragon had reached his sister, who told him
that his mother had called her and that she had survived the
attack. An exhausted Aragon accepted hugs from virtually the
entire Student Affairs staff.
Checking his answering machine, Aragon picked up a frantic
message from his mother, who reported that she was all right,
but that she could not find his father. A later, calmer message
relayed that both his parents were home, and that they were
At 6 p.m., 90 percent of the first-year class gathered for
dinner in the atrium. It was the only event on the day's original
schedule that had not been canceled, but attendance was voluntary.
"We had all these new students who didn't know each other,"
Thee said. "It would not have been best to send them
to an empty dorm room or apartment. You don't want to be alone
on days like that."
Over dinner, the students shared their feelings about the
day. "I thought it was a good way to handle it,"
says Eckert. "If we hadn't done that, I probably would
have sat on my couch and cried all night."
CIM Week committee members wrestled with how to handle the
rest of the week. Though some students felt the remaining
activities should be canceled, the committee decided to retain
as many of the events as possible.
Attendance at all events was deemed optional, and the mood
was more subdued than in previous years. The students missed
out on the first day's scavenger hunt and cheering war. A
talent show scheduled for Friday evening was rescheduled for
later in the weekend, so that students could attend an Evanston-wide
"We couldn't ignore what had happened," Thee says.
"But this was our one shot at transferring the Kellogg
culture to the incoming class. If it doesn't get done here,
it doesn't happen."
The students channeled their concern over the Sept. 11 events
into the planning of a benefit concert on Oct. 12. The $12,000
raised that night has been earmarked for scholarships for
the five children of the three known Kellogg alumni killed
in the attacks.
Kellogg would carry on. CIM Week would continue, the academic
year would begin, and another generation of students would
make their mark on the school. But many knew they would be
graduating into a different world than the one they had inhabited
For them, their predecessors and for those who will follow,
the strength and support of the Kellogg family will be more
essential than ever.
"This is the time to stay united and not lose our spirit,"
Jain says. "Because the day we lose our spirit is the
day we are defeated."
Memoriam" for those alumni lost in the attacks of Sept.