Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Summer 2001Kellogg School of Management
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GMA Reunion
© Nathan Mandell
Spring brought Kellogg's annual Reunion Weekend, but this year also saw past and present GMA presidents (above) arrive in Evanston to exchange ideas with the school's administration.

Historic "summit" convenes quarter-century of Kellogg leaders

by Matt Golosinski

Aumni representing 25 years of Kellogg student leadership descended on Evanston during Reunion Weekend in May for an unprecedented meeting of the school's Graduate Management Association (GMA) presidents. The inaugural "GMA Presidential Summit" attracted 20 former student leaders from as far away as London, Paris, Singapore and Australia. As part of more than 500 overall reunion attendees, these participants met to share their reminiscences, offer suggestions on strengthening alumni bonds, and salute Dean Donald Jacobs during a dinner at the James L. Allen Center, the highlight of which was a surprise "parade" of presidents that formally greeted Jacobs. Before the dinner, graduates also shared their favorite memories of Kellogg with him. The principle architect of the event was Edmund Wilson, associate dean for student affairs. Wilson, along with 2000 GMA President Brian Poger '01 and Assistant Dean of Administrative Services Carole Cahill, revisited the idea for the summit, which was first proposed a few years ago. Over several months, the team negotiated the details and formidable logistics of assembling the former presidents from all corners of the world. Their collective efforts resulted in an event that Laura Smith '02, GMA president for 2001, called "remarkable."

"The summit gave me an opportunity to learn from the experiences of our past presidents while also providing a forum to seek their advice on current GMA issues," said Smith. "We found many similarities throughout the years of leadership represented at the summit, especially with regard to the ongoing relationship between Kellogg students and the school's administration."

Wilson concurred, emphasizing that the student leaders had contributed significantly to the school's progress over the last 25 years. "It was humbling to be in their company," said Wilson. "They returned to campus for an historic meeting of incredible proportions and to pay tribute to Dean Jacobs while sharing their views of institutional history."

The cornerstone of the summit involved a daylong exchange of ideas between the former GMA representatives and the current Kellogg administration. Participants joined Jacobs in dialogue about the school's programs and initiatives, noting effective strategies as well as areas where alumni could make more of an impact. Jacobs apprised the group about his decision to step down as dean and return to teaching. He also revisited some highlights of his tenure, including the decision to build the Executive Education program and the James L. Allen Center, a move which Jacobs said "forced academics out of their ivory towers to communicate to laypeople in the corporate world." Jacobs also assessed Kellogg's faculty, calling it "superb" and remarked that the Kellogg on Strategy textbook is used widely at business schools.

  Dean Jacobs with GMA alums
© Nathan Mandell
Dean Jacobs shares a story with former GMA presidents Spurgeon Robinson '94 (left) and Kent Walker '92.

After emphasizing the need for Kellogg to continue enhancing its alumni base through special programs -- both social and educational -- Jacobs invited questions and comments from summit participants. In response, Sandy Haviland Jr. '90 recommended that Kellogg enhance online search features for the alumni database that would allow graduates more effective networking opportunities. "I like meeting Kellogg alumni who live or work near me," said Haviland, adding that a search feature that facilitates this process would be very helpful. Haviland also suggested that Kellogg continue to explore creative synergies with Northwestern University. Citing the Kellogg-based biotechnology center, Haviland envisioned "a collaboration with the athletic department to create a sports marketing center," among several other possibilities.

Christian Barry '98 agreed about the importance of "leveraging the increasingly large Kellogg alumni baseŠusing digital tools to significantly upgrade our connectivity." Barry urged fellow alums to get involved with their local alumni clubs and to update their contact information frequently on the school's Web site so that the Kellogg database remains a valuable networking tool.

Several alums expressed enthusiasm for Kellogg's increasingly global presence and were gratified to learn that additional international branding efforts were among the school's top future priorities. Participants also said they came away from the summit with a renewed vigor about their roles as alumni, and even greater awareness of the important role that Kellogg continues to play in their lives.

"Reflecting on what was the most special part of my visit, I couldn't isolate just one event," said Luke Parker '93, who traveled from Australia for the summit. "Then it dawned on me that the most special part was re-experiencing the 'vibe' of Kellogg. The atmosphere here is very, very special."

Wilson expressed his hope that the presidential summit will play a key part in strengthening the school's community by becoming an annual event, as well as an element of the school's advisory program.

"The GMA presidents served us well while enrolled here, and they are representing us still," Wilson said. "We need to find ways to use their leadership talents to the fullest extent on Kellogg's behalf."

©2001 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University