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News & Events

2017 EMBA Graduation

Kellogg Names Teaching Award in J. Keith Murnighan’s Honor

By Elizabeth Samson

  • J. Keith Murnighan Teaching Award
  • EMBA Graduation cohorts 102 and 103
  • EMBA Graduation cohorts 102 and 103
  • Associate Dean of the EMBA Global Network Greg Hanifee, Justin Tramaine Marsh EMBA Cohort 103, Dean Sally Blount, Kenneth R. Meyers ’94, President and Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Cellular, Brian Seth Morrison EMBA Cohort 102 and Senior Associate Dean of Curriculum and Teaching Therese McGuire help students celebrate graduation at the December graduation of EMBA Cohort 102 and 103
  • EMBA Graduation cohorts 102 and 103
  • EMBA Graduation cohorts 102 and 103
  • EMBA Graduation cohorts 102 and 103
This past December, EMBA cohorts 102 and 103 graduated from the Executive MBA Program. The ceremony began with Dean Sally Blount and Associate Dean Greg Hanifee delivering opening remarks and welcoming graduates and loved ones in the audience before introducing the convocation speaker, Kenneth R. Meyers ’94, President and Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Cellular.

One aspect of the ceremony that differed from past convocations was the bittersweet rebranding of the awards for outstanding professors. Six months prior to graduation day, the Kellogg community lost a teacher, mentor and friend, Professor J. Keith Murnighan. Murnighan was the Harold H. Hines Jr. Distinguished Professor of Risk Management at Kellogg, and had an uncanny ability to connect with each cohort he taught. The students of cohorts 102 and 103 experienced this firsthand, and established a scholarship fund in his name to honor the late professor and continue his legacy. As an additional honor, Kellogg named the outstanding professor awards after Murnighan, which were presented to four professors at graduation.

The inaugural J. Keith Murnighan Award for Outstanding Professor in a Core or Advanced Course was given to Mitchell A. Petersen, the Glen Vasel Professor of Finance, on behalf of the Evanston cohort 102. Brian Seth Morrison ’16 presented it, likening Petersen to the award’s namesake, Murnighan, stating “It is fitting that this award is named after a great friend of 102, the late, great Keith Murnighan, an extraordinary teacher, because Professor Petersen has become very much a friend to us. He has celebrated with us, advised us and laughed with us.”

In his acceptance speech, Petersen reminisced about Murnighan, saying, “This means a lot to me, in part because Keith meant a lot to me. This means a lot to me because you also mean a lot to me. You've become an important part of my life, and you've let me into yours.”

Miami cohort 103 awarded the J. Keith Murnighan Award for Outstanding Professor in a Core or Advanced Course to Alexander Chernev, professor of marketing. Class speaker Justin Tramaine Marsh ’16 explained that his cohort’s decision was due to the impact Chernev’s words had on the cohort’s relationship with one another. When asked about how an assignment would be graded, Chernev assured the students that, to him, the grade was secondary because life will grade them. “At that exact second, you could almost see the weight of the program lifted off our shoulders,” said Marsh. “From that moment on, we grew much closer as a cohort, and really embraced…the program.”

Awards for Outstanding Professor in an Elective Course were also given. Cohort 102 selected Sergio Rebelo, the Tokai Bank Chair in International Finance. According to Morrison, “Professor Rebelo has transformed the clinical, dry world of economics into a rich and vivid tool to understand the forces that shape everything from nations and economies to families and individuals.”

Cohort 103 selected Jose Maria Liberti, clinical professor of finance, for his “contagious energy and passion for the subject matter.”

Although bittersweet, the December graduation ceremony provided a time for students and faculty to reflect on the life and legacy of J. Keith Murnighan. Throughout lighthearted anectodesanecdotes and impassioned speeches, there were sentiments of enduring respect and honor in presenting such a distinguished award in Murnighan’s name.