letter from the dean

Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future


Published: Winter 2013


kumarAs we welcome the new year, we at Chicago Booth are preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of professors Eugene Fama, MBA '63, PhD '64, and Harry Davis, two distinguished faculty members whose pathbreaking work has left a lasting imprint on the theory and practice of management, and on business education. These two outstanding minds exemplify our mission to create knowledge with enduring impact, and to influence and educate current and future leaders.

Gene Fama, Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, came to the school as a student in 1960 and joined the faculty in 1963, completing his PhD in 1964. In his doctoral dissertation, Gene proposed the theory of efficient markets - virtually creating the passive fund management industry. He coined the term "efficient market," and the term gained widespread use following the publication of his paper "Efficient Capital Markets: A Review of Theory and Empirical Work" in the Journal of Finance in 1970. He has published nearly 100 academic research papers on finance and written two widely used textbooks: The Theory of Finance (with Merton Miller) and Foundations of Finance. His work is among the most cited in all of economics and finance. He's also a talented and inspiring teacher. Former students often describe his class as a life-changing experience. He has received many awards for his work, including the Fred Arditti Innovation Award. He was the inaugural recipient of the Deutsche Bank Prize in Financial Economics, the Morgan Stanley American Finance Association Award for Excellence in Finance, and the Onassis Prize in Finance.

Harry Davis, Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management, joined our faculty in 1963. An expert in leadership, strategy, creativity, and innovation, Harry also has served as a deputy dean and interim dean at Booth. He is best known for his legacy in curricular innovation: more than 20 years ago he pioneered the Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD) program, the first core leadership program at any top-rated MBA program. LEAD is facilitated by second-year students who adapt the curriculum each year through choice of topic and presentation. It remains the only required course for students in the Full-Time MBA Program. Harry also developed Management Lab, an experiential learning course that offers students an opportunity to apply classroom knowledge in real-world situations. In addition to expanding Booth's curriculum, he was instrumental in increasing Booth's global presence, helping to establish the school's first international campus in 1994. Today, Booth remains the only business school with permanent campuses on three continents. 

We look forward to many more years of service from Gene and Harry. As we start a new year, the vision for Chicago Booth going forward focuses on five areas:

First and foremost, we must strengthen and broaden the intellectual footprint of the school. To do this, we must strengthen the faculty even more. We will need to get bigger in some areas. And we must be audacious in acquiring talent - the generous gift from David Booth, '71, and his wife, Suzanne Deal Booth, has been invaluable in helping us in this area.

Second, we must support and leverage impact and influence, by supporting centers and initiatives, through better dissemination of our intellectual capital, and expanding our Executive Education Program.

Third, as we broaden our faculty and research, it is essential that we also support a broader set of student aspirations, ranging from finance to social entrepreneurship, expanding students' choices in the program. This requires curricular innovation in both content and form, including experiential courses and courses on emerging topics.

Fourth, we must attract an even broader pool of future leaders, via scholarship support and global programs. As I have written to you, this has been a priority area of focus in the last year, and we are sharpening our global strategy to maximize Chicago Booth's already substantial global footprint.

And finally, one constant throughout the years is that we have produced outstanding alumni who are leaders in the world of business and policy. We must take full advantage of this by better supporting and leveraging our alumni. As I wrote in my last letter to you, we have implemented several measures over the last year to enhance the school's engagement with you, our alumni, and external constituencies.

As we evaluate strategies going forward, we will ask ourselves these questions: Does the strategy deliver on either dimension of our mission? Does it retain our distinctiveness (respect our culture and values, maintain our cohesion, maintain our standards)? Is it financially prudent?

You will continue to hear from me on this five-point vision. As we look ahead and track the school's progress, you can be assured that we will always use the past as a guide, holding the school to the timeless values of a relentless pursuit of excellence, rigor, and respect for the individual.

Sunil Kumar
Dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management

Photo by Matthew Gilson

Last Updated 1/16/14