Executive MBA

75th Anniversary

75 Years at the Forefront of Change

Join us for a yearlong celebration as we mark the 75th anniversary of Chicago Booth’s Executive MBA Program. Relive our history through decades of pathbreaking education, and discover why change is in our DNA.


The First Program of Its Kind

In 1943, the world’s first Executive MBA program was pioneered at the University of Chicago to fill a need for experienced managers on the home front. It was a bold innovation—it would be 20 years before another institution started an Executive MBA program. Since then, our program has evolved to fit the needs of a changing landscape. Today, we bring The Chicago Approach to more than 230 Executive MBA Program students on campuses located in Chicago, London, and Hong Kong. As we reflect on our 75th year, we invite you along for a journey that explores where we’ve been and where we’re going.

75 Years of the Executive MBA

  1. 1943 - Inaugural Class

    The world’s first Executive MBA program enrolls its inaugural class of 52 in a two-year evening program that meets two nights a week at 19 South Michigan Avenue.

    The program is “an immediate success story,” according to UChicago professor Walter David “Bud” Fackler, who would later become director of the program. “There was an important market niche to be served,” Fackler added, “and there was a good product presented by a small but excellent faculty.”

  2. 1944 - GI Bill

    The GI Bill―officially the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944―is enacted, providing tuition benefits that send millions of returning veterans to college and low-cost loans that help them launch businesses.

  3. 1947 - 70% Growth

    As the fifth cohort enters, the program has grown by 70 percent compared to its inaugural class, to a total of 81 students.

  4. 1948 - Executive Program Club

    Alumni launch the Executive Program Club to build on the strong bonds within cohorts and stimulate ongoing learning through enduring events like the Business Forecast Luncheon.

  5. 1952 - Management Conference

    The Executive Program Club organizes the inaugural Management Conference to share new thinking, perspectives, and trends in business with alumni. The event becomes a tradition at the business school that continues today.

  6. 1955 - New Traditions

    The graduating cohort begins a tradition of crowning students in the cohort behind them with propeller beanies and requiring them to adopt a prepared credo.

  7. 1956 - The Chicago Approach

    Newly appointed dean W. Allen Wallis and associate dean James Lorie evaluate the state of the school and business education in general, then revitalize coursework to emphasize theoretical concepts underlying business management. The result becomes known as “The Chicago Approach” to business education, an approach rooted in rigorous inquiry and intense collaboration.

  8. 1963 - First African American Student

    The program enrolls its first African American student in the year’s incoming cohort of students.

  9. 1970 - Walter “Bud” Fackler

    Professor Walter “Bud” Fackler becomes director of the Executive MBA Program, a role he holds until 1987.

  10. 1970 - Black Students Organize National Conference

    African American MBA students at the University of Chicago conceive and organize the first national conference of black students enrolled in MBA programs.

  11. 1975 - Frequent Flyers

    Student Martin Richmond completes his degree after flying an estimated 50,000 miles to attend. He moved to New Jersey mid-program, and commuted by air from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Chicago for almost a year. Another group of five Wisconsin students fly from Appleton to Chicago’s Meigs Field in a Piper Navajo plane piloted by Timothy E. Hoeksema, arriving at 190 East Delaware in time for 9 a.m. classes.

  12. 1981 - Executive MBA Council

    The Executive MBA Council is founded to share knowledge and best practices among the 50 existing programs. Bud Fackler, who for years had generously advised schools starting up EMBA programs, was a key organizer.

  13. 1987 - Bud Fackler Award

    Bud Fackler receives an inaugural award from the Executive MBA Council. Named in his honor, the award recognizes his contributions to the council and EMBA programs worldwide and is still given today.

  14. 1993 - Fackler Professorship

    Longtime program director Bud Fackler dies, inspiring alumni to raise funds that ultimately funded a professorship in his name in 2007. Nearly 800 contribute to what was then the largest pooled gift in the university’s history.

  15. 1993 - Expanding to Europe

    In June, the business school and Argentaria, a banking and financial services company in Spain, announce the launch of the International Executive MBA Program, based in Barcelona. Deputy dean Harry Davis, a leadership expert, and his successor Robin Hogarth are instrumental in the global expansion to Europe.

  16. 1994 - Downtown Campus Opens

    The program moves into the university’s modern new Downtown Center on the banks of the Chicago River, leaving the facility at 190 East Delaware.

  17. 1994 - First International Cohort

    The first international Executive MBA Program cohort begins classes at the new campus in Barcelona. The curriculum includes 10 modules over 16 months.

  18. 1995 - First Joint International Session

    The European cohort―50 students from 14 nations―travels to Chicago for course modules with their counterparts. The international joint sessions remain a unique component of the program.

  19. 1996 - Gleacher Center Named

    The Downtown Campus is named Gleacher Center in honor of a gift from Eric Gleacher, ’67.

  20. 1999 - Expanding to Asia

    Renovations begin to restore and modernize the historic House of Tan Yeok Nee in Singapore to house the program’s expansion to Asia. Jack Wadsworth, ’63, then chairman of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Asia Limited and chairman of the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation, and his wife, Bette Sue Pendery-Wadsworth, help defray the cost of modernizing the 115-year-old mansion. Cheng Wai Keung, ’73, chairman and managing director of Wing Tai Holdings Limited, heads the consortium that acquires the building.

  21. 2000 - First Asia Cohort

    The first Asia cohort enrolls in Singapore, making the school the first US institution to offer an Executive MBA Program on three continents taught by its own faculty.

    Along with the new campus and cohort, the school’s long-running Management Conference premieres in Asia. A dinner featuring remarks by US ambassador Steven Green, dean Robert Hamada, and 1993 Nobel laureate Robert W. Fogel is followed by a day of panel sessions and a tour of the House of Tan Yeok Nee.

  22. 2005 - Relocating to London

    The European program relocates from Barcelona to London and a state-of-the-art campus in the City.

  23. 2007 - Hyde Park Angels

    Seven recent graduates from the North American program form the Hyde Park Angels, an early-stage investor group, in cooperation with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

  24. 2008 - Booth Gift

    The school is named in honor of David Booth, ’71, recognizing his unprecedented $300 million gift.

  25. 2009 - Curriculum Update

    The program adopts concentrations in finance, marketing, and strategy. Students also begin participating in a Global New Venture Challenge competition, a unique platform designed to expand the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge to Executive MBA students on our Chicago, London, and Singapore (and later Hong Kong) campuses.

  26. 2010 - Patty Keegan Honored

    Patty Keegan, associate dean for the Executive MBA North America Program, is honored with the EMBAC Bud Fackler Service Award, recognizing her contributions over 15 years with the program.

  27. 2014 - Relocating to Hong Kong

    The Asia-based program relocates from Singapore to Hong Kong in a move to expand and strengthen the school’s presence and influence across the region.

  28. 2016 - Executive Assessment Test

    The Executive MBA Program partners with the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) and other leading business schools around the world to create the Executive Assessment Test, an exam developed specifically for EMBA candidates.

  29. 2017 - Rustandy Center Established

    Tandean Rustandy, ’07, establishes the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation with a $20 million gift, endowing Chicago Booth’s hub for research and programming that tackles complex social and environmental problems.

  30. 2018 - Executive MBA Programs Flourish

    The degree program pioneered at UChicago 75 years ago is flourishing worldwide. The industry’s Executive MBA Council reports 300 member programs across more than 30 nations today.

  31. 2018 - New Hong Kong Campus

    The Executive MBA Program in Asia will move into the Chicago Booth campus at the University of Chicago Center in Hong Kong.


Our History by the Numbers




Percent that the program grew in its first five years



Industries represented among our students, who represent 46 nationalities



First and only business school with permanent campuses on three continents

Highlights from our History

icon 75th Anniversary Executive MBA Program

75 Years at the forefront

75 years ago, Booth recognized the need to train executives to lead in an uncertain world. In 2018, we celebrate our program's history and look ahead to the future.

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icon Booth's Impact on the EMBA Industry

From Chicago to the World

We ask Michael Desiderio, Executive Director of the EMBA Council, for his thoughts on the 75th anniversary of Booth's Executive MBA Program and the future of EMBA globally.

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An unpredictable journey

25 years ago Chicago Booth's Executive MBA Program chose to boldly go where no other business school had gone before.

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Booth Alumni: Who Is Your ONE?

The Executive MBA Program is a close-knit community. Alumni referrals are our number one source of applications each year. When you refer a student, you shape the future of the Executive MBA Program. To celebrate our anniversary, we’re challenging each of our graduates to refer one candidate and pass along Booth’s cutting-edge education to tomorrow’s leaders.

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Get to Know Our Program

Throughout our 75th anniversary year, we invite you to discover how The Chicago Approach continues to prepare senior leaders for the demands of a rapidly changing world. Attend an event, delve into cutting-edge research from our faculty, or explore stories from our students and alumni. Learn more about Chicago Booth’s Executive MBA Program and the lifelong impact it creates.

Attend an Event

Meet Our Students

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From a Senior Leader’s Perspective

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Evolving Human Capital

Today’s breakthrough gadget will be tomorrow’s museum piece. So what endures? The human element. It’s what legendary UChicago economist and Nobel laureate Gary Becker outlined in his classic, Human Capital.

Explore human capital » 

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Forging a Unique Path in Leadership

Decades ago, the prevailing theory held that leaders were born, not made. Booth was among the first business schools to prove that wrong, and accelerated leadership education into the modern era.

Explore leadership »

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Change is in Our DNA

What do the first credit card, the first personal computer, and the first Japanese car sold in the United States have in common? Booth’s Executive MBA Program predates them all. Amid a century full of rapid advancements in business and culture, our program has always prepared students for what’s next.

Explore change »