letter from the dean

Supporting and Leveraging Our Alumni

kumarThe academic year is off to an outstanding start. In the first quarter alone, Eugene F. Fama, MBA '63, PhD '64, Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, was awarded the 2013 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his innovative work in asset prices; Chicago Booth-originated Braintree was acquired by eBay for $800 million; and we established the Harry L. Davis Leadership Laboratory to ensure the school's preeminence in experience-based learning.

The school also launched its first Massively Open Online Course (MOOC), taught by John H. Cochrane, AQR Capital Management Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, on the subject of asset pricing. About 27,000 enrolled in the free, nine- week course. The topic was chosen as a test platform for continuing education of our alumni and engagement with industry and academia at a global level. We expect this course will be offered again, and there will be others like it.

Booth has a long history of producing outstanding alumni who are leaders in the world of business and policy. The school must take full advantage of this. As I have shared with you in my five-point vision as dean, this is one of my top priorities for the school: to better support and leverage our alumni.

Our goal is to engage alumni deeply and meaningfully with the life of the school and with one another. In the last year we have taken several important steps toward improving engagement with our alumni and external constituencies. We have begun sharing our intellectual capital in new ways, thereby making faculty research accessible to alumni. In launching RECONNECT, we reframed reunions and Alumni Celebration in the context of continuous learning by combining them with Management Conference. This new format, designed to meet the needs of our diverse alumni community, drew more than 1,800 alumni, guests, and students in May 2013.

Also this year, we identified a clear opportunity to enhance the impact of our alumni efforts by reorganizing alumni relations and aligning it directly with the MBA programs. In Tracy McCabe we have found a leader to help us to move forward in this new direction. Tracy joined Booth in June 2013 as executive director for Alumni Relations. He is responsible for the school's alumni activities around the world, including developing and executing a strategic plan for volunteer management and engagement. The Alumni Relations team works closely with the Dean's Office, Marketing, and Development on communications to enhance the school's connection with alumni.

Under the new structure, Booth's development arm, led by Joe Buck, has been renamed Booth Advancement and is focused primarily on fundraising, an especially crucial role as Booth and the university gear up for a major campaign. As a result of the work of Joe's team, the school saw a substantial increase in fundraising in both the Annual Fund and overall fundraising progress last year, and that trend continues this year. As associate dean of Advancement, Joe continues to lead the development team and he oversees management of the Council on Chicago Booth and the Global Advisory Board.

Our new structure is a significant step toward enhancing the level and quality of engagement with our alumni, who are vital to the success of our school. Going forward, we'll see alumni engage more deeply with the school's priorities, by formalizing connections to admissions and student programs; leveraging alumni and corporate engagement for global visibility of our brand; and equipping alumni organizations and creating new ones that increase value exchange through the alumni network.

This year we expanded programs such as 20/20, where alumni share their experiences with new Booth students, and Executive-in-Residence, in which distinguished senior executives share their knowledge and experience with students and alumni. We held our third Booth Summit, an immersion experience designed to reengage alumni with the school. We continue to make updates to the alumni database and enhancements to the alumni website.

The Alumni Relations team's emphasis in the coming years will include creating an "engagement map" for alumni, providing more access points to engage through interests, life stage, and affinity; bolstering alumni organizations and creating new ones with formal connections to the school's intellectual capital, programs, and initiatives; further developing regional connections, particularly in markets of greatest potential to serve the interests of student admissions and careers, faculty research, and alumni networks; and taking online communities to a higher level of impact for alumni and the network.

Fulfillment of this strategy requires strengthening our infrastructure and improving our ability to execute. We are in the process of implementing a new Community Directory tool, adding tools for the school and its alumni organizations to improve communications, and improving systems for event registration.

Finally, I would like to thank those of you who responded to my invitation to take the alumni survey in the fall. Your feedback has provided valuable insight into what motivates alumni to engage with the school and one another, and it will shape the impact of our alumni-engagement strategy going forward.

Sunil Kumar
Dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management

 Photo by Matthew Gilson

Last Updated 1/16/14