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Rodney Jones-Tyson

To welcome attendees to Booth’s Fogel dinner, alumnus Rodney Jones-Tyson, ’98, had a message: “You have no idea about the opportunities that sit in front of you as a result of where you are today—the great amount of learning, and the amazing set of friendships and relationships that you’ll have,” the chief risk officer and managing director at Baird, a global financial services firm, told incoming students. “I’m really jealous.”

The annual gathering, now in its 39th year, helps pave the way for continuing inclusion and acceptance for underrepresented minorities within the business school. With masks in hand, students mingled at a cocktail hour and seated dinner with sweeping skyline views from Gleacher Center.

The in-person event was started by the late Enid Fogel, associate dean of students, and Robert W. Fogel, a Nobel laureate and the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of American Institutions at Booth before his death. As an interracial couple in the 1950s and ’60s, the Fogels faced discrimination and isolation. They started hosting the event in 1982 in their Hyde Park home to foster belonging by personally welcoming minority students to campus.

Today, their legacy continues.

Advancing a sense of belonging across the school—among alumni, staff, faculty, and students from different programs—is as critical today as it was nearly four decades ago, says Angela Pace-Moody, AB ’97, Booth’s director of global diversity and inclusion, an inaugural role created last year to support and expand the school’s D&I initiatives. For underrepresented minorities in the Booth community, forging these critical friendships and relationship cements the path to success.

Booth dean Madhav Rajan reminded the audience that this is just one of many longstanding traditions and programming initiatives at the school that tap into the power of diversity and inclusion to enable growth. “You need to have that diversity of voices,” said Rajan, who is also the George Pratt Shultz Professor of Accounting. “We could not be the school that we are today without formally making that a part of our organization.”

“There is something about entering a room and instantly feeling a level of connection and comfort. Seeing people who you know have likely shared similar experiences or are invested in your success is deeply meaningful.”

— Jessica Jaggers

The Most Diverse Class in History

This year, students across all of the Booth programs were invited to take part, allowing more than 100 people to come together in the space. Booth faculty including Linda E. Ginzel, clinical professor of managerial psychology, Amy Hilliard, adjunct associate professor of strategy, and Pietro Veronesi, deputy dean for faculty and the Chicago Board of Trade Professor of Finance, were also in attendance.

Jessica Jaggers, dean of students and associate dean of student life, fondly recalls attending the gatherings in the Fogels’ home. Students would sit balancing plates on their lap, trying not to knock over drinks on the floor. Guests who arrived for the formal event without a tie were asked to borrow one from the host. Decades later, the purpose of the gathering hasn’t changed.

“There is something about entering a room and instantly feeling a level of connection and comfort,” she says. “Seeing people who you know have likely shared similar experiences or are invested in your success is deeply meaningful.”

For students, it’s a valuable chance to see the Booth community come together.

“I was humbled by the number of Black and brown faces in the room,” says Erin Branton, an engineer who plans to pivot into brand management after graduating from the Full-Time MBA Program. “It’s one thing to hear that this is Booth’s most diverse class in history, but to be among them is a different experience.” Branton also seized the opportunity to ask for class recommendations from students in the Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs—accomplished professionals from around the country whom she normally might not have the chance to connect with.

For Franco Calle, a PhD candidate who emigrated from Peru, the gathering helped foster the need for connection as he completes his doctorate in economics. “This dinner highlighted the importance of building a trustworthy network based on friendship and a sense of community,” he says.

Evening student Gabriela Arismendi says the “dinner feels like a really warm, special event that provides an opportunity to network with Booth faculty and students.” For Arismendi, who is also a data strategist for Chicago Public Schools and plans to continue work in the government or nonprofit sector after graduation, it was also a good opportunity to expand her network beyond the students she meets in class.

Now it’s up to a new generation to build on the Fogels’ accomplishments, Pace-Moody told the crowd. “A community of advocates and allies and friends will continue on with their legacy,” she says. This year was the first time students from the entire program including Full-time, Evening, Weekend, Executive and PhD, took part.

After the speeches, Pace-Moody rang the bell, announcing, “Dinner is served,” in keeping with the Fogel tradition. The students were happy to take their first bite.

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