Dear Yale SOM Alumni,
It is with a sense of great honor and profound responsibility that I begin my role as acting dean during Dean Ted Snyder’s sabbatical leave this academic year. I write to share a few thoughts about the year that lies ahead and invite your views on matters you consider important to the work of Yale SOM.
Mission, Goals, and Priorities: Our work at the School has been guided by an abiding commitment to the School’s mission and objectives. The mission has always mattered at SOM and in some ways it matters even more today. Strikingly, in the 2016 alumni survey, 94% of you indicated that the school’s mission is central to our identity. The School’s senior leadership team will carry the focus on mission forward with both confidence and humility, and I think, with uncommon collegiality.
We find ourselves at a moment in the School’s young life when almost every aspect of the School’s work is imbued with an extraordinary sense of momentum and excitement. In his letter announcing the sabbatical leave, Ted enumerated a series of goals for the coming year, including 1) strengthening our four current degree programs while developing the new Master of Management Studies degree; 2) along with continued faculty development, building out the school’s research infrastructure; and 3) deepening our engagement with SOM’s advisory boards and other important external stakeholders. I look forward to providing updates on the progress of these goals in the coming months.
In the remainder of this note, I offer updates on some recent developments and conclude with a few additional thoughts.
Alumni Engagement: Our alumni engagement is exemplary and the envy of peer institutions. This year, your participation in the annual fund, at 53%, set another record high since 1987. This is about twice what we see at most peer schools and greatly exceeds participation at all other schools at Yale including Yale College. You also participate actively in helping us recruit new students and guiding their career choices. Your participation in reunions and chapter activities continues to grow, including the 139 alumni events that took place last year. I hope that you will continue to engage with the school and encourage you to bookmark the alumni website for event information, access to the alumni directory, school news, and more.
Degree Programs: Today we welcome our newest group of MBA and MAM students. Our new class of 68 EMBA students already started a month ago with an immersive two-week residential module. During the last five years, we have experienced an extraordinary surge of interest in all our programs. Consequently, the quality, depth, and diversity of our applicants, and hence of our matriculating classes, have never been better. I think you will share our collective pride and joy in our students when you engage with them! Our momentum is being better recognized in the media as well, for instance in this piece.
Faculty Update: We are equally excited about the extraordinary group of nine new professors who are joining our faculty this year. Their areas of scholarship include finance, organizational behavior, economics, and entrepreneurship. Among them are senior faculty who have previously held appointments at the University of Chicago Booth School, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
We will also celebrate the careers of five long-term faculty members as they prepare to retire at the end of this academic year: Professors Jonathan Ingersoll, Sharon Oster, Douglas Rae, Subrata Sen, and Arthur Swersey. There are events being planned now to give alumni the chance to thank them before they depart.
Major Gifts to the Yale Program on Financial Stability: The Program, led by Professor Andrew Metrick with the mission to create, disseminate, and preserve knowledge about financial crises, received a major gift to expand its work and launch the “Crisis Response Project,” which seeks to codify best practices and provide training to help governments fight future financial crises. The Program has also expanded its Advisory Board, chaired by Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, to include some of the world’s most respected experts on the financial system.
I conclude this long letter with a few additional thoughts. Having now spent five years at SOM, I can’t claim to see things from a newcomer’s perspective, but I will nevertheless frame my comments in terms of what I find truly special about Yale SOM, and the challenges that lie ahead.
The faculty’s insistence on our students’ learning and the interest we take in students’ professional aspirations and personal lives. This is quite rare in my experience and very much worth preserving. MBA programs even at great universities can fall prey to a downward spiral of mutual cynicism between faculty and students about the other’s preoccupations and motivations. We have not only avoided that, we have a culture in which students are respectful of the faculty’s scholarly pursuits and bring a great deal of intellectual curiosity to their professional education. As our programs have grown and as our stalwart senior faculty near retirement, we need to pay careful attention to preserving this aspect of our culture.
Our integrated curriculum remains the boldest, most creative, and I might say, the noblest MBA core at any business school in terms of content, structure, and delivery. It reflects a tremendous commitment by our faculty to understanding management challenges in their irreducible complexity, and it requires a large faculty effort for its renewal and delivery. Ten years since its inception, this approach remains unrivalled by peer institutions. But our natural efficiency-seeking tendencies and scholarly specialization are a challenge to maintaining our commitment to the integrated curriculum and we will need continually to rededicate ourselves to its noble aspirations.
We have made great strides in globalizing our programs and giving our students rich global educational experiences. I believe that our long-term success as a graduate professional school depends vitally on how well we educate our students on the challenges of leadership across the globe and how well we connect them to professional opportunities in both the developed and the emerging economies of the world. Our leadership of the Global Network has spawned the creation of innovative educational opportunities for our students and we will need greater faculty involvement in these initiatives in the future to sustain innovation and to fulfill our aspiration to become the most distinctively global business school in the US.
I end with a note of deep gratitude for your engagement with the School and for your generous willingness to support the School’s mission. Your professional careers are likely to take you to regions and sectors across the globe, but I hope you will continue to return to campus to recruit, attend reunions and conferences, give guest lectures, etc.. When you do, future generations of students, faculty, and staff will welcome you back as the group of people whose voices and experiences carry a special resonance with those of us still on campus.
Yours is—it goes without saying—the deepest stake in the long-term well-being and excellence of the School. Indeed the School’s success will be measured in large part by yours. While new generations of students will continue to reinvigorate and reshape this young school, your involvement will provide direction and leadership for Yale SOM’s future, and ensure continuity of the School’s mission of educating leaders for business and society.
With kind regards,
Professor in the Practice of Management