From the Dean
Some Closing Thoughts
Image by Matthew Gilson
When reaching the conclusion of a significant effort, there are several ways to take stock of achievements. Statistics, feedback, and memories — each plays a part. As I look to the end of my tenure as dean of Chicago Booth, there are reflections that resonate with me and, I hope, with you.
In the 111 years since our founding, the school’s 14 deans oversaw the creation of such programs as the executive MBA, broke new ground by welcoming top students regardless of race or gender, moved into the global era with permanent campuses on three continents, and expanded the influence of Chicago values around the world. Thousands of world-renowned faculty have taught here, including six Nobel Prize winners. These faculty have changed the lives of our more than 43,000 alumni from 113 countries who are now working to bring Chicago values to companies in every industry and many governments and nonprofit organizations. The power of Booth is evident throughout the business world and is being renewed continually through the crucial exchanges between our faculty and students.
And our accomplishments will continue. We are a confident school with a clear sense of our role in the world. In the past decade we have been able to retain more of our outstanding faculty than at any point in the prior 50 years. We are building new strengths, such as the Nielsen Marketing Databases and the new Center for Securities Prices indices that will be launched this year. Collectively, our centers — Becker, Kilts, Polsky, Stigler, the Accounting Research Center, the Center for Decision Research, the Center for Population Economics, and the Initiative on Global Markets — support an array of world-class research and expand professional development opportunities for students and alumni.
During the time I’ve had the privilege of serving as dean, I have gotten feedback from many of you on every aspect of your experience at Chicago Booth. Students and young alumni have felt a difference in their lives from the “stretch and support” from the school. More broadly, our community appreciates the effort to engage in big issues and offer opportunities to connect with each other throughout the world. So many of you have supported the school in a variety of ways, for which I again thank you. Specifically, the choice you have made to represent Chicago Booth and the University of Chicago in a constructive way, and put Chicago values into practice, does more to communicate the essence of this special educational environment than any event or ad could ever hope to. This has been the most meaningful aspect of my tenure as dean.
It is energizing to be part of an enterprise with such drive and high aspirations, and to be part of a learning organization that embodies the meaning of the statement that I quote so often: The best approach is only provisionally so. Of course, the ultimate feedback on our ability to become the best business school in the world and be recognized as such was David Booth’s landmark gift in 2008. David is an outstanding person: an intellectual leader in his field and a great friend to me and to the school. His explicit approval of our direction and accomplishments to date is the highest form of praise and I thank him for his generous partnership and commitment to furthering Chicago Booth’s mission and values.
Along with the November 6, 2008, announcement, there are so many fond memories of my deanship at Chicago Booth. My roles in various videos with students, playing charity Risk games until late at night, breakfasts with students, and answering tough questions from our Executive MBA students and alumni around the world on our global strategies — all of these moments energized me. Then, in a time of real economic crisis, the 2009 Management Conference perfectly embodied the leadership that the world expects from our faculty and alumni. I have been lucky to teach with two of the most amazing minds of our time, Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy. I remember the beauty of the Rothman Winter Garden on the day that we dedicated our new building to Charles M. Harper. I’ve enjoyed the contrasting views from our great facilities — Gleacher Center, the London Campus and the Singapore Campus, and Harper Center — and felt great comfort and confidence in the fact that everywhere we teach, the Chicago approach to management education guides the effort.
Those of you who have visited me in my office have seen my collection of Petoskey stones. These fossilized corals from the Devonian period have an unmistakable pattern, formed by organisms bound together by time, place, and circumstance. As I look back on what we have accomplished together, I know that our school is on a long and positive arc. The crystallization of memories, statistics, and feedback I have gathered in my time as dean is as durable and distinctive as those stones. Thank you.
Edward A. Snyder
Dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Economics