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One of the most rewarding aspects of my job at Chicago Booth is the unique opportunity to learn more about the history of the school and our Executive MBA Program. By nature, universities must evolve to suit the needs of a rapidly changing world and equip students to thrive amidst complexities and ambiguity. The University of Chicago has been committed to this notion from the start and our Executive MBA Program is no exception.

Our program was established during one of the most complicated moments in our history – World War II. In 1942, an accounting professor named Willard Graham took notice of how the country was changing to support the war effort; the American workforce had shrunk dramatically as 2 million men joined the armed forces. He recognized an immediate need to strengthen American business leadership on the homefront, and proposed an MBA program for seasoned managers at the school.

In the fall of 1943, the Executive MBA Program debuted at the University of Chicago, making it the first program of its kind. The inaugural class consisted of 52 students who represented notable companies such as Marshall Field’s and Commonwealth Edison.

75 years later, we’re still changing.

We’ve seen the EMBA industry grow from our program alone to a world-wide network of more than 300 different programs. Our class sizes have expanded from 23 students to nearly 230 who represent a broad range of industries, functions and citizenships. We’ve extended our global reach, too – moving from one classroom at 19 S. Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago to the establishment of three permanent campuses in Chicago, London and Hong Kong.

We will mark this milestone in our history throughout 2018. Anniversaries are a natural time to reflect on the past but also an appropriate moment to look to the future. During the year, we will share stories that highlight how our students and alumni have thrived and created impact by relying on the tested and tried approach gained at Chicago Booth. As prospective students, I hope you will join us along the way and discover how the Executive MBA Program at Chicago Booth is truly unique.

Patty Keegan

Associate Dean for the Executive MBA Program North America

Follow Patty for posts on the Executive MBA community, curriculum insights, and the history of our program.