Back to the Classroom Desks
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Back to the Classroom

Designed to build on a Booth MBA, a new series of courses—on topics from entrepreneurship to leadership, and more—help alumni stay sharp.

It’s late October, and students in a packed classroom at Gleacher Center are debating the merits of the Bank of Japan’s implementation of qualitative and quantitative easing. But these are not typical students—they’re already graduates who have returned to the classroom for the first installment of Back to Booth, a new series of two-day courses taught by faculty.

The series was born when Sunil Kumar, dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management, envisioned ways to more deeply connect alumni with the school. Back to Booth comes as an addition to existing opportunities that allow alumni to take up to three complementary quarter-long courses, or attend discounted Executive Education programs that are typically five days long.

“It’s a nice sweet spot, we hope, for our alumni who want a deep dive but can’t commit to a whole course or a whole week,” said associate dean Renu Kulkarni, whose Executive Education department has partnered with Alumni Relations to bring the series to life. It was made possible through a generous gift from the Fred G. Steingraber/A. T. Kearney Endowment.

“An important tenet of Booth is to engage our alumni meaningfully in the life of the school and with each other,” executive director of Alumni Relations Tracy McCabe told the inaugural Back to Booth class. “Nothing represents the life of the school more than the intellectual capital that you have exposed yourselves to today.”

Anil Kashyap, Edward Eagle Brown Professor of Economics and Finance, taught the series’ first two-day course, Understanding Central Banks, in October.

A second course, Global Launchpad, was an entrepreneurship “boot camp” held at EGADE Business School at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico City. It blended classroom instruction with coaching from clinical professors of entrepreneurship Waverly Deutsch, Ellen A. Rudnik, and Craig Wortmann, as well as Robert H. Gertner, Joel F. Gemunder Professor of Strategy and Finance, and Tecnológico de Monterrey faculty. Jean-Pierre Dubé, Sigmund E. Edelstone Professor of Marketing, taught the third course in the series, Marketing Analytics, held at Gleacher Center.

Based on feedback, plans for the series could include more topics with additional faculty members, an engaging online component, and courses in London and Hong Kong.

“There’s no limit to how many Back to Booth programs you can come to,” Kulkarni said. “It’s lifelong learning that is available to you at a highly subsidized rate, and that you can take when it suits your schedule and career interests.”

The Takeaways

Anna Totdahl, ’02, Investment vice president at Newark, New Jersey–based Prudential Financial

“Understanding Central Banks was one of my favorite classes when I was a student here. It’s one of those classes that I could do with a refresher in—because with everything going on in the markets, there’s no way to have learned it all. The experience of being in academia is completely different from your day-to-day work. Having the opportunity to bounce ideas around, and hear different points of view and different opinions, is invaluable.”

Kevin Heaney, ’15, Broker and partner at Chicago-based Optima Options

“As a student I had taken Professor Kashyap’s The Analytics of Financial Crises. I really appreciated his teaching style, so given the opportunity to take a course from him again, I jumped at it. I wasn’t able to take Understanding Central Banks while I was enrolled at Booth, so I got lucky that this was the inaugural event for Back to Booth. What I really appreciated was that it combined educational value with networking value for alumni.”

Next Courses

Harry L. Davis, Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management, and Linda E. Ginzel, clinical professor of managerial psychology, will teach Insight and Action Skills: Leadership Agility, February 22–23. Nicholas Epley, John Templeton Keller Professor of Behavioral Science and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow, will teach Designing a Good Life, March 24–25.

—By LeeAnn Shelton