Letter from the Dean

Alumni Engagement and Global Strategy


Published: Fall 2012

KumarIn my first letter to you more than 18 months ago, I laid out my mission to enhance and broaden the school's impact and reputation in all of its intellectual endeavors, consistent with our history and values. Two areas of focus emerged as priorities right away. First, it was very clear that an effective global strategy was needed to ensure that Chicago Booth maintains its preeminence in global management research and education in a rapidly changing world. And second, it was clear that the school's engagement with its alumni, as well as external constituencies such as the media, needed to be more e.ective in order to enhance its impact and reputation.

I convened two committees to help evaluate and make recommendations on these fronts. I am grateful to the faculty, staff, and many alumni who provided input to these committees over the past year. Having recently received the two committees' reports, we have begun the process of implementing their recommendations.

The Alumni and External Relations Committee's observations and recommendations focus on two key areas: idea visibility and alumni engagement. On idea visibility, we have implemented most of the committee's recommendations to better leverage the school's outstanding intellectual resources. Even as the committee was deliberating, we took steps to broaden the dissemination of knowledge created at Chicago Booth and thus improve public discourse. As I mentioned to you last fall, we launched a weekly online column, Business Class, developed by Chicago Booth's Initiative on Global Markets in partnership with Bloomberg News. Earlier this year we opened a television studio in Harper Center, from which our faculty members have conducted dozens of interviews aired on networks including Bloomberg, CNN International, CNBC, Fox, PBS, and BBC,among others.We took another significant step in enhancing idea dissemination by creating a new position,executive director of intellectual capital. The executive director will be charged with translating Chicago Booth's intellectual content and distributing our ideas for maximum visibility and impact.

On engagement, the committee heard from many of our alumni. I am grateful so many of you have a lasting a.ection for, and connection to,the school and have shared your ideas for enhancing this relationship.We found that you wanted us to place greater emphasis on your reunions, with more activities planned. Based on these recommendations, we are in the process of reorienting one of the school's largest and most popular events, Management Conference, and connecting it to your reunions. You also told us we could do a better job of communicating with you and could improve opportunities for alumni to stay connected.We have moved forward on updating our database using public sources such as LinkedIn, with almost 16,000 alumni records validated.

This summer we launched the first phase of an initiative to significantly upgrade our website. This first phase incorporates a more dynamic presentation of our content on the home page, an overhauled and more user-friendly experience in admissions sections, improved search, and greater integration of social media throughout. Subsequent phases will provide a range of enhancements to the alumni section, including: opportunities for alumni to engage online with Booth in speaking to students, recommending prospective students, and interviewing prospective employees; the ability to search and sign up for events; and improved access to career-related services.

The committee also recommends best practices that our alumni can adopt to help you stay connected and promote the school. Some of these include: writing an item on yourself or a friend that will appear in Class Notes, displaying a visual symbol of your Booth affiliation in your office, mentoring or advising a student or alumnus, talking to your classmates, helping to recruit a Booth student for employment, encouraging a prospective student to apply to Booth, and taking an alumnus or student to lunch. The committee and I hope you will consider adopting these.  

In evaluating our global programs, resources, and infrastructure, the Global Strategy Assessment Committee formulated an aspiration for Chicago Booth: for everything the school does, the world should be the proper context. Our recruitment of faculty and students, our research, and our programs all should be global in reach and impact. In an extensive report, the global committee laid out a wide-ranging set of recommendations. The committee believes that it is important that we do not overextend our most important and scarce resource, namely, our faculty, or dilute the impact of our research and educational efforts by simply expanding what we do across the globe. Rather, its report provides specific recommendations for improving the efficacy and impact of our current programs, and a few carefully considered new activities. I agree with this approach wholeheartedly. In our culture, quality easily trumps quantity; the correct approach for us is to identify a set of key markets where we would like to have impact on management thought, practice, and education, and then serve these markets with a few high-impact programs and activities.

The global committee recommends improving access to our Executive MBA Program for potential students in the Latin American market, assessing the ability of our Asia Executive MBA Program to serve a geographically diverse student body, and better integrating the EMBA Program with our other degree programs. Also, the committee recommends that we establish an enhanced role for nondegree Executive Education. Based on these recommendations, we are evaluating our strategy in Asia, assessing the factors that determine the distribution of alumni, and evaluating whether we can broaden it across Asia. We also are examining ways to strengthen ties to Latin America in our EMBA Programs to better serve this important market. This spring I formed a committee to evaluate the Executive MBA curriculum, looking at all aspects of the program including electives, concentrations, and the relationship between the EMBA curriculum and the curriculum requirements in our other MBA programs. Broadening the objectives and scope of our nondegree Executive Education programs also is under way.

The global committee also recommends better integration, coordination, and measurement of our activities. Based on its recommendations, we have initiated a major data-warehouse project and will institute multidimensional performance evaluation of our external-facing teams. We also have begun to implement better coordination of our outreach activities and are in the process of formulating country-specific development and club strategies for our key markets.We have tasked sta. with thinking about opportunities to leverage all of our campuses for all of the school's activities.

In addition to these recommendations already being implemented, the faculty and I continue to deliberate a few other, important recommendations from the global committee for new activities. I will share updates with you as these plans evolve.

I hope you had an enjoyable summer. Just as we welcome these changes, we also are pleased to welcome an outstanding new crop of students and faculty to Chicago Booth this fall. We have an exciting year ahead.

Sunil Kumar
Dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management

Photo by Matthew Gilson

Last Updated 11/14/12