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Some of the 1,500 alumni and guests who attended the Kellogg School's 2008 Reunion gather with faculty and administrators May 3 outside the Donald P. Jacobs Center in Evanston.

‘Centennial’ Reunion a special homecoming for Kellogg graduates

More than 1,500 alumni and friends flocked to Evanston for annual chance to reengage with the school and each other

By Matt Golosinski and Aubrey Henretty

5/6/2008 - Get smart, and have fun while doing it. That could have served as the motto for this year’s Reunion, as Kellogg School graduates returned to campus May 2-4 for an array of social and educational opportunities.

The annual three-day celebration attracted more than 1,500 alumni, family and friends who benefited from career management workshops, MBA Updates, TG receptions, class parties and Special K Revue, the song-and-sketch-comedy extravaganza written, directed and performed by Kellogg students. Reunion attendees enjoyed tours of Kellogg facilities, including the Donald P. Jacobs Center, Wieboldt Hall and the James L. Allen Center. They also heard from Dean Dipak C. Jain, who delivered the “State of the School” address on May 3.

In his remarks, Jain reflected on the past, present and future of Kellogg, noting that 2008 is “a very special year” for an institution that began in 1908 as a small part-time program in downtown Chicago. While the school’s origins date back 100 years, Reunion began relatively recently: In 1977, about 100 graduates gathered in Deering Meadow to reconnect with each other. Today, the number of alumni seeking a lifelong relationship with Kellogg has expanded enormously, reflecting the school’s success and ambition, as well as the enthusiasm of its global community, now numbering more than 50,000 people.

Jain said that in the coming century, Kellogg will continue to promote social responsibility, global leadership, academic excellence and experiential learning. He brought alumni up to date on several recent initiatives, including Kellogg Insight, the school’s faculty research digest. “Most of us, when we write papers, we write them for academic journals,” Jain said. “And these are papers only seven people can read and understand.” Kellogg Insight makes complex theory accessible to a larger audience, he noted.

The dean highlighted other projects underway, including plans for expanding the school’s facilities, a renewed focus on student scholarships and a push to attract top students from other Northwestern University schools. Faculty recruitment and retention is also a key objective to ensure Kellogg continues as an elite management leader. Central to the Kellogg mission is its “multi-stakeholder” perspective, Jain said. The school must always consider the interests of students, faculty, corporate partners and the global community.

“We want to create a Kellogg that is not just the best management school in the world, but the best management school for the world,” Jain said. “We want to produce leaders of lasting significance.”

Before Jain took the floor to deliver his address, Associate Dean Ed Wilson ’84 presented the 2008 Alumni Professor of the Year Award to Robert Weber, the Frederic E. Nemmers Professor of Decision Sciences. Since 1988, graduates returning for Reunion have bestowed the award on a Kellogg professor considered most influential on their careers. Weber, whom Wilson introduced as his own statistics professor, joined the Kellogg faculty in 1979. An acclaimed game theorist and one-time member of the International Journal of Game Theory’s editorial board, Weber is a founding member of the Kellogg School’s Dispute Resolution Research Center.

“I confess to a guilty pleasure,” Weber said as he accepted the honor. “I read the Class Notes in Kellogg World — in every issue.” Weber added that alumni accomplishments are a great source of pride for Kellogg faculty: “In simple terms, your successes are the way we measure ours.”

Kellogg Dean Dipak C. Jain delivered a 'State of the School' address on May 3 during Reunion.
Photo © Nathan Mandell
Steven Rogers, the Gordon and Llura Gund Family Professor of Entrepreneurship, delivers an MBA Update on May 3 during the 2008 Kellogg Reunion. In total, Kellogg faculty presented seven of the 'mini-courses' over Reunion weekend.
Photo © Nathan Mandell
Past recipients of the Alumni Professor of the Year Award have included some of the Kellogg School’s most prominent teachers, including Jain, Sergio Rebelo, David Besanko, Sunil Chopra, Alice Tybout, Robert Magee, Donald Jacobs and Philip Kotler, among others. To be eligible for the award, a professor must have served on the Kellogg faculty for at least 15 years.

Reunion participants also had many informal opportunities to learn about current Kellogg initiatives. Students held a club fair to showcase the leadership pursuits they engage in; 20 of the school's more than 100 diverse clubs and groups were represented. The India Business Club offered a reception for its membership and alumni interested in learning more about the club. The Women’s Business Association, meanwhile, presented a work-life balance seminar designed to help alumni develop strategies for managing their time more efficiently. The student-alumni golf scramble presented a sporty forum for networking, while a case study session with Professor Barry Merkin revealed how the Kellogg social entrepreneurship curriculum was making a real-world difference. He told attendees about One Acre Fund, a venture launched by Andrew Youn ’06, dedicated to tackling the hunger crisis in Kenya. The organization began as a student project by Youn while enrolled at Kellogg.

Members of the Class of 1983 enjoyed a special 25th Reunion party hosted in the home of Ted and Pam Martin (both ’83). “After 25 years, so much has happened and our classmates seemed eager and willing to share their experiences,” Pam Martin said. “It was significant that so much of this sharing went far beyond the scope of each individual career path. I was struck by how many classmates were living truly ‘rich’ lives in the most meaningful sense of the word, integrating their professional lives with family, community and multiple volunteer initiatives.”

Said Ted Martin, CEO of Martin Partners, an executive search firm: "Pam and I had a great time hosting the class party. The Class of 1983 generated a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the reunion, and it was great to break several giving and participation records!"

Some 40 percent of the class has participated in Reunion-related philanthropy, raising more than $510,000 so far. In addition, the class produced the first-ever Reunion book at Kellogg, with more than 110 submissions. In all, about 150 graduates from the Class of 1983 participated in Reunion, some traveling from as far as the Philippines and Saudi Arabia.

All Reunion attendees had the chance to freshen their leadership frameworks by participating in several MBA Updates, intensive mini-courses taught by top Kellogg faculty on subjects as varied as the global economy, entrepreneurship, immigration, risk management, power and multicultural experiences, family business and healthcare.

On May 1, the day before Reunion officially opened, some Kellogg graduates and friends were already on campus, convened at the James L. Allen Center for the annual Alumni Awards dinner, where Kellogg formally thanked seven distinguished people for their service on behalf of the school. Reunion came to a close May 4 with a farewell brunch at the Allen Center, where participants shared their weekend experiences before heading home.

“The heart of what makes Kellogg special is great people working together to create a unique educational experience that lasts a lifetime,” said Wilson, associate dean for Alumni Relations. “The enthusiasm of our alumni during Reunion was apparent, and the connections that create the extraordinary Kellogg global network grow stronger each year.”