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Reunion 2008
Photo © Nathan Mandell

Reunion Spotlight

Grads gearing up to reconnect, celebrate power of the Kellogg alumni network in 2009

By Katie Taylor

Kellogg School alumni around the world are preparing for a great chance to reminisce and reconnect when they return to Evanston May 1-3, 2009, for Reunion Weekend. The classes of 1959, 1969, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2008 will head back to campus for the festivities.

These classes have the distinction of celebrating their reunion during the Kellogg Centennial. A special Centennial video will be shown during Reunion Weekend, which will coincide with the conclusion of the school’s year-long anniversary programming.

Many Kellogg alumni said they are looking forward to Reunion to reflect on memories of their time at the school.

Rick Mayer ’69 said he and his classmates went without some of the amenities that today’s students enjoy, given the massive technological advances over the last 40 years. Despite those differences, Mayer maintains that one thing remains the same.

“The Kellogg alumni network is one of the school’s greatest assets,” Mayer said. “I’ve had countless partnerships and business relationships formed through the friendships and networks that developed out of my Kellogg experience.” 

The other piece that brings Mayer back is having fun.

“Kellogg graduates, long known for their ability to network and socialize at events like TG and Special K, are more than just brilliant minds. They know how to have a good time — and Reunion provides the perfect setting,” Mayer said.

Doug and Sue Warshauer, both ’94, fondly remember Kellogg as a place where their family started, as they met there 15 years ago.

“We love coming to Reunion to see the many great friends from Kellogg who we don’t see enough because they are spread across the globe,” Doug Warshauer said. “The class of ’94 was such a tight class and Reunion always reminds us how special our Kellogg experience was.”

Carin Gendell ’79 recalls that a month before her class graduated, the J.L. and Helen Kellogg Foundation gave Northwestern University a $10 million grant, which resulted in changing the business school’s name to the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Gendell said that even given the major impact of this philanthropy on the school’s curriculum, culture and brand, alumni understand the importance of continuing to give back and reconnect. Celebrating Reunion milestones provides a special time for alumni to support the school, leave a legacy and say thank you for the opportunities afforded to them in business, she said.

Professor Mort Kamien with Willie the Wildcat  

Sparking old friendships also are why Kellogg alumni are excited to attend Reunion.

“My two years at Kellogg were great, both personally and professionally,” said Brian Hand ’84. “I made a lot of friends that I remain close to today, and the education I received helped shape my career. Having come from an engineering school, I found the Kellogg environment refreshingly creative, the students friendly and warm, and the curriculum engaging.”

Dwight Hilson ’84 said he cherishes his Kellogg friendships because they are unique.

“We all knew that graduation would send us off to far corners in pursuit of our aspirations, and we can never keep in touch to the extent desired,” Hilson said. “Yet, our 25th Reunion offers that special opportunity to come together again and rekindle friendships that have never really gone away. I hope when we are all together next May we will leave saying: ‘I never made any friendships better than the ones I made at Kellogg.’”

Although New Yorker Jim Palos ’89 is no longer based in the Midwest, being part of the Kellogg Alumni Council and a Reunion committee member keeps his ties close to his alma mater.

“I’m at Kellogg several times a year and spend time with students, faculty and administration,” Palos said. “It’s so reassuring to see that while Kellogg has advanced on so many fronts, the Kellogg culture – which ultimately defines the institution – has remained the same. In fact, it’s only gotten stronger. Kellogg is essentially about people.”  

It’s been 50 years since H. Don Nelson ’59 graduated from Kellogg, known then as Northwestern School of Business. He said his degree afforded him many career opportunities, including stints with General Electric and Texas Instruments. He retired in March 2000 as president and CEO of U.S. Cellular.

“I had these opportunities because of a solid educational base and willingness to meet new challenges to consumerize technology and manage change,” Nelson said. “Kellogg remains a key reason for my business success as well as my happiness in retirement in Williamsburg, Va., as I continue to be involved with corporate boards and the Graduate School of Business at William and Mary.”

Memories of their class team spirit inspired 1979 Reunion chairmen Jerry Cohen and Harry Kraemer Jr. to get involved with the celebration.  Cohen cites the unique experiences and friendships he developed at Kellogg as his motivator for attending and organizing Reunion.

“I made a lot of friends that I remain close to today, and the education I received helped shape my career,” said Cohen, also a member of the Kellogg Real Estate Advisory Board and the Kellogg Alumni Council.

Kraemer, the 2008 Lavengood Professor of the Year, said he also is grateful to Kellogg for all of the professional opportunities his degree provided him. Kraemer joined the school’s faculty three years ago and said that teaching was a small way to give back to an institution that had meant so much to him. 

“I owe Kellogg my gratitude,” Kraemer said. “Just having the opportunity to teach and have an impact on students who I believe will be running future global organizations, private and public, is an honor.”

More than 100 Reunion alumni volunteers are working hard for the May festivities. The Donald P. Jacobs Center will serve as the activity hub for the weekend with Deering Meadow acting as the site of Friday’s Reunion TG. Friday’s festivities also include campus tours, MBA Updates, the Part-Time MBA reception at Wieboldt Hall and Special K performance. Saturday’s events include Dean Dipak C. Jain’s State of the School address, the alumni barbecue and Saturday night class parties throughout the North Shore and Chicago, including the EMBA party at the James L. Allen Center.

For more information about Reunion Weekend and Reunion celebrations for all classes, visit

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