What Does Connection Look Like?

February 26, 2021

SOM fans know that the school is closely intertwined with its home university, and one important element of that connection runs through the alumni body, which allows SOM graduates to serve as representatives to the Yale Alumni Association (YAA). This is a window into what is happening at “broader Yale,” and a chance to connect with and learn from the alumni of other Yale schools and programs.

This year, SOM alumni serving as YAA delegates are:

  • Jeffrey Juger ’11, Chair, Alumni Advisory Board 
  • Matthew Broder ’81 B.A., ’87 
  • Dan Kent ’16
  • Nik Khakee ’96 
  • Christina Maria Mainelli ’11
  • Eddie Thai ’12
  • Mary Pat Wixted ’10 B.A., 15    

As your representatives to the YAA, we have attended and participated in several programs (all virtual, sadly) that shed interesting and different perspectives on Yale. To keep this blog post short, I’m taking the liberty of excerpting the write-ups that the YAA delegates or SOM alumni staff provided. If you’d like more information, I have also included a link to the complete write-ups as well as to recordings of the programs themselves.

On behalf of all of SOM’s YAA delegates, it is an honor to represent our school to this larger Yale alumni community.

Yale Alumni Association Assembly Kickoff Broadcast (Summary from Eddie Thai 12)
Towards the end of his talk, Yale President Peter Salovey quoted an assertion by Prof. Kathryn “Katie” Lofton, Dean of Humanities of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, that faculty in the humanities are “committed to helping navigate critical challenges in pandemic, war, social upheaval. Individual accomplishment and glory take a back seat to being present to what is going on around us, asking how we can best serve others in this particular moment.”

Not to twist those words of inspiration, draw a false contrast between SOM and other parts of Yale, or reveal myself as naively idealistic, but my feeling about the ethos of SOM was that it was never about putting either “individual accomplishment” or “serving others” in the front seat and the other in the back seat, but rather that we SOMers tend to make our decisions and chart our careers in ways where accomplishment and service go hand in hand.

You can read Eddie’s full writeup here, and you can watch President Salovey’s kickoff remarks online here.

Yale President Peter Salovey’s “University Update and Reflections on Arts and Humanities at Yale” (Summary from Jeff Juger ’11 and President, Yale SOM Alumni Advisory Board)
President Salovey noted, quite optimistically, that Yale has high standards when it comes to cultivating an inclusive community.  Everyone affiliated with Yale has the education and capacity to address injustices in society.  President Salovey also added that we judge our progress through evidence of open discussion and debate of all perspectives.  Considering the divided political environment, it is important that we find the best solutions, not ones just for the right or the left. 

You can read Jeff’s full writeup here, and you can watch President Salovey’s remarks online here.

Arts in Conversation: Genevieve Gaignard ’14 MFA (Summary from Mary Pat Wixted ’15)
A mammy head juxtaposed onto a classic porcelain figurine. Floral church pews beneath diagrams of slave ships. A woman with long blond hair standing next to a movie poster for "I Passed For White." Through installation sculpture and photography, Genevieve Gaignard's work forces the viewer to confront race in America but sparks more questions than answers. The artist's own biracial identity informs her interest in refracting racial categorization and evoking the discomfort and power of intersectionality.
You can read Mary Pat’s full writeup here, and you can watch Genevieve Gaignard’s conversation with Yale graduate Key Jo Lee (‘13 MA) here.

Yale Medal Celebration (Summary from Courtney Lightfoot, SOM Managing Director of Alumni Engagement & Volunteer Programs, and Nik Khakee ’96)
The Yale Medal is the highest award presented by the Alumni Association honoring outstanding individual service to the University. Five distinguished individuals were honored in late 2020 with the Yale Medal for their outstanding individual service to the university. The 2020 awardees are: Bruce D. Alexander ’65, Rahul R. Prasad ’84 MS, ’87 PhD, Judith Ann Schiff, Kurt L. Schmoke ’71, and Alice Young ’71. All these individuals describe rich and rewarding experiences as an outcome of their service to Yale. The virtual ceremony proved a wonderful celebration of service to Yale as well as in business and to society.  

You can read Courtney and Nik’s full writeup here, and you can watch videos about the Yale Medal recipients contributions and their personal video messages here:


Personal Video Messages.

Volunteer Recognition Events (Summary from Angela Howley, SOM Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement)
Congratulations to fellow SOMers Suzanne Francis ’80 and Jimmy Holloran ’14 who were recipients of the 2020 YAA Leadership Awards for their steadfast commitment to volunteering. 

Suzanne is past president of the SOM Alumni Advisory Board and was instrumental in helping align the board’s goals and objectives with the school’s priorities, while remaining true to the need for alumni to have a venue to express their needs and concerns.

Jimmy Holloran continues to make SOM a priority through his wide range of volunteer efforts, specifically co-chairing his 5th Reunion Gift Committee while actively participating in a separate reunion planning committee. He approached every committee task with passion and enthusiasm.

You can read Angela’s full writeup here, and you can watch the awards ceremonies honoring Suzanne and Jimmy, as well as many other Yale alums, from this page.

Yale Board of Trustees Panel (Summary from Dan Kent ’16)
Similar to our smaller, tight-knit community here at SOM, the Yale Board of Trustees is uniquely smaller than other universities’ boards - which typically are near twice the size - but the emphasis is that Yale’s trustees are more engaged and take a more active role in working closely with university leadership to help shape Yale’s practices and policies. The board also includes SOM graduates Lei Zhang (MBA ’02), and, ex officio, Ned Lamont (MBA ’80).

Catharine Bond Hill (PhD ’85), Ann Mira-Ko (Yale College ’98), John Rice (Yale College ’88) and David Sze (Yale College ’88) participated in the conversation  Yale has served as a foundation and accelerator for them and a common theme shared among the panel was their deep love for Yale’s intradisciplinary focus, particularly among the liberal arts.  Many participants noted that it’s the diversity - “the seams and overlaps, where the most interesting things happen.”  Just like we learned in the Investor, Black Scholes was developed not by an economist, but by a physicist who said that there was an overlap in physics that he could apply options theory.

You can read Dan’s full writeup here, and you can watch the Yale Board of Trustees panel discussion here.

About the author

Matt Broder