This past weekend amid the gothic arches of the University’s Rockefeller Chapel we held our 506th convocation ceremony. During the ceremony the President of the University Robert Zimmer and new Booth Dean Sunil Kumar awarded MBA degrees to 274 graduates of our Executive MBA program. With our new graduates, families and other supporters in attendance it was both a solemn and joyous occasion. Just a few weeks prior we kicked off the celebratory period culminating at convocation with program closing ceremonies at our campuses in Chicago, London and Singapore.
The last event of the of celebrations was an elegant ball held in the Great Hall of Chicago’s famous Field Museum of Natural History attended by over 400 people and even a few dinosaurs. And what a celebration it was - classmates from around the world reveling in their collective accomplishment. Many a camera worked overtime and the dance floor was never empty.
We had students and family members travelling from six continents. Just in the matter of a few hours at a reception in the Rothman Winter Garden of the Harper Center, I recall meeting guests from the Ivory Coast, Botswana, Australia, India, Vietnam, Austria, Norway and Kazakhstan. How far we’ve come from 1943, when Chicago Booth launched the first Executive MBA program, when the crowd would have had a more local feel.
As I stood back and observed what was going in front of me I was struck by what the Executive MBA program had done over the course of the past 21 months. A new global community was created! It was apparent to me, from what I witnessed over the weekend, that our graduates had found not only new friends, but also new business partners, new investors, new co-workers, new advisors, etc. One American graduate even told me that one of his Italian study group mates was the Godmother for his new baby!
While perhaps the addresses of the group sound a lot more exotic these days, when I speak to older generations of alumni I realize there are enduring elements. The “old guard” still found new friends, business partners, investors, etc. within the Booth community. It’s a well-known and highly sought after benefit of taking on the rigor of an Executive MBA program.
As their new journey as graduates of Chicago Booth begins we hope the riches of the new community which were cultivated during their student days serve them well for many years to come no matter where that journey takes them. This will bind the current generation of Booth graduates with past generations and those that have yet to make the journey.