Dear Kellogg alumni,

When I think back to how I pictured my first year as dean of the Kellogg School of Management, the phrase that comes to mind right away is: How little did I know?

The pandemic certainly upended expectations, but it was the crisis triggered by the pandemic that provided the real chance to learn. There is just something about a crisis that gives you the chance to peek inside an organization and see its mechanisms at work under stress. It reveals so much. Under normal circumstances, you can study and see how things run. And year after year you do some of the same, some different. A crisis makes you rethink it all. Some things go wrong, and you have to adjust. You have to change and rebalance, all while trusting one another.

The crisis triggered by COVID-19 revealed so much about Kellogg’s core strengths in action. It reinforced for me what I always believed was true about this special place. Put simply, this year has been an incredible learning experience for me.

When I arrived at Kellogg, I had a strong sense of the institution's values. As I got to know more of you, I saw that a foundation of collaboration, an unwavering faith in building diverse teams, and a passion for creativity has yielded generation after generation of alumni who are easily recognizable as Kellogg leaders. What never ceases to amaze me is how truly embedded this value system is throughout our entire community.

It's not just the students and alumni who have shown these traits. As you’ll see throughout the stories in this issue, faculty and staff have pivoted in ways beyond expectation. I cannot imagine any other school with such a strong and enduring identity.

That value system is more important than ever as we also reckon with systems of bias and racism. As much as we are reaching outwards, we are also turning inwards, addressing the work we have to do at Kellogg and taking action. By fostering a more inclusive community on campus, we are preparing our students to be inclusive leaders no matter where they go when they graduate. This will serve them well as the world becomes even more interconnected than it is today.

As I look back and reflect on this past year, I do so with immense pride in all that the Kellogg community has accomplished. I am delighted to share just some of the inspiring stories from 2020 in this new digital-only Kellogg magazine. We focused the issue entirely around questions you asked: What is Kellogg doing to support students, faculty, alumni and staff in this time of crisis? How is the school contributing to the Evanston and Chicago communities? How have students and faculty pivoted, and how is administration fostering these changes? I hope you enjoy reading about the assumptions we challenged, the limitations we rejected, and the lessons we learned along the way.

I truly believe that what I told the Class of 2020 applies to so many members of our community during this time of disruption: This is not a time for incremental change. This is not a time to focus on the small things. Now is the time to differentiate ourselves, because it's the Kellogg way to see disruption as opportunity for progress. This is where the Kellogg spirit shines.

The best is yet to come.


Francesca Cornelli