Taking the lead on collaboration
The Kellogg School hosts the Seven Schools Forum, a groundbreaking gathering of business-school student presidentsBy Ed Finkel
5/1/2009 - Kellogg School Dean Dipak C. Jain likes to say that the future of competition is cooperation.
In that spirit, he encouraged Kellogg Student Association President Lloyd Sommers ’09 and his successor, Bryan Law ’10, to organize a gathering of business-school student presidents at the Kellogg School.
The result: the first-ever Seven Schools Forum, which took place April 24-26 at the James L. Allen Center. By all accounts, the gathering was a groundbreaking success.
The participating business schools included Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Wharton, the University of Chicago, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Each school sent its incoming and outgoing student presidents to Kellogg for a weekend of discussion and debate.
“We want this to be the beginning of an ongoing dialogue between the schools, and not just at the student president level,” Sommers said. “It’s consistent with our culture to take the lead on this type of collaboration.”
The presidents discussed student conduct and etiquette, domestic and international student integration, communication with career management centers, alumni engagement, the relationship between the administration and student government, and metrics to assess faculty quality. KSA executive committee members also joined the group in specific sessions to share their topic expertise.
The presidents also got a taste of the Kellogg School environment. They toured the Kellogg campus, heard welcoming remarks from Dean Jain, stayed at the Allen Center, dined in Evanston and Chicago, and enjoyed a cocktail hour with senior associate deans and KSA representatives.
KSA takes an active role in evolving the Kellogg culture. Each year, Kellogg student leaders choose one major activity to be their “stamp” on the school, Sommers said, and this year’s forum was organized in that spirit. The gathering is intended to be an annual event, hosted by a different participating school each year.
The attendees lauded the opportunity to meet and share with their fellow student leaders.
“I wanted to understand what other schools have done,” said Jamie Obletz, outgoing student president at the Columbia Business School. “It’s pretty apparent that the issues and efforts at our schools are parallel. I’m amazed at the similarities.”
Akihisa Shiozaki, incoming president at the Wharton School, said the event demonstrated the power of idea sharing. “This weekend is a phenomenal effort,” he said. “It’s hard to believe we didn’t have this before. The MBA experience is not only about what a school offers but about what students do for themselves.”
The cooperative values expressed during the event have the potential to engender a higher sense of ethical leadership, added Logan Deans, outgoing president at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
“Student government can [offer] an environment for social responsibility and community building,” he said. “We can carry this back and create environments with those kinds of values.”