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News & Events

Kellogg bestows more than 1,400 MBA degrees in 2005

Convocations celebrate student achievements, accent global responsibility

By Chris Van Nostrand

6/1/2005 - Inside Northwestern University’s Welsh-Ryan Arena, flags representing all 11 Big Ten schools hang from the rafters. On June 18, a banner from the Kellogg School of Management also flew, in honor of its convocation ceremony that brought together several thousand people to celebrate the academic accomplishments of the 909 Full- and Part-Time MBA graduates who walked across the stage to receive diplomas. In all, Kellogg conferred 1,410 degrees upon the Class of 2005 across all programs — including 178 graduates of the Executive MBA program that held its convocation a week earlier.

The afternoon ceremony began with rousing comments from Northwestern President Henry Bienen. “It’s wonderful to be the president of a university that boasts the best business school in the world,” he told the near-capacity audience in the venue that seats 8,100. In their remarks, convocation speaker Jim Scherr ’89, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and Kellogg Dean Dipak C. Jain reminded the new alumni of the global leadership roles that they must be willing to accept.

Dean Jain’s lessons drew mainly upon his experience as a survivor of the tsunami that struck Thailand in December. He told the story of the animals who ran to safety after sensing the earthquake that precipitated the disaster. “In a time of crisis, the people who make the right decisions are the ones who keep their feet on the ground, or keep in touch with reality.” As future world leaders and ambassadors of the Kellogg School, said Jain, the graduates’ reality must include responsibilities beyond economic fulfillment: “We are all here to make this world a better and a safer place to live.”

Mr. Scherr, who was named CEO of the USOC in April, returned to Welsh-Ryan as a speaker more than 20 years after wrestling in the arena as an undergraduate student. The former NCAA champion and Olympian challenged graduates “to dream a vision, to pursue that vision to the best of your ability, and through that journey make a difference in the world.” Much as Olympic athletes connect others to their dreams and change their communities as a result of their exposure, said Scherr, Kellogg graduates must take advantage of the platform provided to them as leaders to improve the lives of others.

The Gene Lavengood Professor of the Year, Steven Rogers, who received the coveted honor via student vote, provided a humorous moment when accepting the award. “As Elizabeth Taylor said to each of her six husbands that she divorced: ‘I’m not gonna keep you long,’” quipped Rogers, a perennial faculty favorite known for his entrepreneurial expertise and candor. “I sincerely thank you for this wonderful award . . . And in conclusion, my feelings can best be described by a quote from one of America’s greatest thespians, Sir Samuel Davis Jr., who would have said in response to the introduction today: ‘It’s really groovy when young cats like you dig me.’ God bless you, have a great life.”

Members of the Kellogg School’s EMBA program also graduated, a week earlier, in the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. The keynote address was delivered by Etienne J. Veber, who until most recently was CEO and president of Merisant Worldwide Inc., a global leader of branded zero-calorie sweeteners including Equal and Canderel. Mr. Veber continues to sit on the Merisant board of directors and received his Kellogg MBA in 1988. His talk focused on the importance of today's business leaders having a global focus and the ability to adjust to change.

Amy M. Schuman gave the student address for EMP-59, while Donald L. Hammond enjoyed similar honors for EMP-60. Graduates also heard comments from Dean Jain and Assistant Dean and EMBA Director Julie Cisek Jones. EMP-59 selected professors Sunil Chopra and Richard Honack as "Outstanding Professors," while EMP-60 selected professors Artur Raviv and Sergio Rebelo for the same honors.

Joining the EMBA graduates at their convocation were 15 graduates from the Kellogg School's joint IEMBA program at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. These students graduated with their colleagues in Hong Kong in April but also chose to be recognized at the Kellogg convocation since they have joint degrees.

Following the convocation, all graduates, along with families and friends, were hosted at a reception at the James L. Allen Center.