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More than 1,400 alumni — the largest number ever — traveled from 28 countries to attend Kellogg Reunion 2009.

More than 1,400 alumni — the largest number ever — traveled from 28 countries to attend Kellogg Reunion 2009.

A milestone celebration

A record-breaking number of alumni return to Kellogg for Reunion 2009

By Jennifer Beck

5/11/2009 - They came from far and wide to reminisce and catch up with old friends. They traveled from places like Australia and China and Singapore, all seeking to re-engage with the school that one alum said has “influenced almost everything I’ve done” since graduation.

The Kellogg School’s centennial-year Reunion turned out to be the largest ever, drawing more than 1,400 alumni from 28 countries to renew old friendships, revisit the campus and take part in professional enrichment opportunities.

The weekend featured a variety of events for returning graduates, including seminars by Kellogg faculty, workshops, receptions, and an all-class barbeque.
The weekend featured a variety of events for returning graduates, including seminars by Kellogg faculty, workshops, receptions, and an all-class barbeque.
Photo © Nathan Mandell
Alumni were entertained by a performance of the Special K comedy revue, presented by full-time Kellogg students.
Alumni were entertained by a performance of the Special K comedy revue, presented by full-time Kellogg students.
Photo © Nathan Mandell
Dean Dipak C. Jain catches up with alums during Reunion 2009.
Dean Dipak C. Jain catches up with alums during Reunion 2009.
Photo © Callie Lipkin
Alums cited many different reasons for attending the May 1-3 event, but common to all was a desire to reconnect.

“I wanted to see the school and how it has progressed,” said John Baird ’59. At almost the other end of the half-century mark, Kei Noguchi ’08 said she enjoyed the chance to “catch up with friends” now scattered around the world.

The event drew 122 alumni from overseas. Among them was Luiz Cruz ’99, who traveled from Brazil to attend his first reunion since graduation. On campus for the first time in 10 years, Cruz was eager “to see everybody” and take part in the weekend’s many events.

Reunion 2009 offered many opportunities for learning as well as networking and socializing. A full slate of MBA Updates, taught by Kellogg faulty, provided alumni a chance to get up to speed on some of the most salient issues today. Topics included the financial crisis, healthcare, marketing, immigration and family business.

Bin Liu ’04 attended the MBA Update “China and India in the Asian Century,” taught by Lakshman Krishnamurthi, the A. Montgomery Ward Professor of Marketing. Liu, who credited Kellogg with helping him change careers, said he was looking forward to reconnecting with his “favorite professor.”

Other highlights included a State of the School address by Dean Dipak C. Jain, career management workshops, and “The Global Economic Outlook,” a panel discussion presented by graduates from the class of 1979. The speakers included William Ecker, president and CEO of the Hartz Mountain Corporation; Harry Kraemer, executive partner at Madison Dearborn Partners; Steven J. Sherman, partner at KPMG Economic and Valuation Services and chair of the KPMG Global Valuations Committee, and Thomas J. Toy, co-founder and managing director of PacRim Venture Partners.

The event proved particularly successful in engaging 1979 alums, who organized the first-ever 30th Reunion committee.

“It’s a chance to support the school, interact with the students, see classmates from my class, and meet classmates from other classes,” said committee member Susan Rosenstein ’79, who noted the importance of building connections between students and alumni.

The weekend featured many opportunities to do just that. The graduates visited classes and joined student-guided tours of the campus. On Friday evening, the Special K Revue, the annual comedy show staged by current MBA students, entertained the alumni audience. (This year’s theme: “How to Lose a Job in 10 Days.”)

The popular Reunion barbeque drew alumni across classes, many with families, for lunch on Deering Meadow on Saturday afternoon. The festivities included a children’s area with face painting and activities to entertain the record 334 alumni offspring in attendance.

Jeff Marsh ’94 said he was particularly pleased by the “great mix of people.” His Kellogg experience, he said, has “given me the confidence to tackle anything.” Ron Boninger ’89, attending his first Kellogg reunion, shared a similar sentiment. “It has influenced almost everything I’ve done,” he said of his time at the school.

New this year were class “e-books,” an electronic collection of news and notes that allowed alumni to reconnect prior to Reunion and offered those unable to attend an opportunity to share with their class.

Developed by Kellogg’s Alumni Relations Department, the e-books logged more than 500 submissions — and sparked many new connections between those in attendance at Reunion 2009, and those who were there in spirit.