You can return after 40 years – perspectives from my U of Chicago Booth School of Business Reunion – Part 1 of 2

Doing what I love most on my birthday – teaching diversity and inclusion prior to attending my 40th MBA class reunion.

What fortuitous luck! I had been assigned to teach the National Diversity Council’s DiversityFIRST Certification class in Chicago during my 64th birthday and immediately prior to my 40th MBA class reunion. So after having not been back in 35 years (I did go to a 5th year class reunion dinner) I signed up.

Yes – you can “go back home” as the say after four decades; it was a wonderful experience. I actually did not meet anybody from my class who I knew while in school, but I did meet many wonderful new classmates and other people. And a highlight was going back to three special classes taught by current professors for alumni. I loved the intellectual stimulation! Part 2 will focus specifically on the content of those classes.

The first stop was going to the newish Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago on Thursday May 2nd; that building did not exist when I was in school 40 years ago. I loved the energy right away while riding the elevator with two professors who were discussing the importance of having passion for whatever you are doing – such a vital message for all of us.

The University of Chicago downtown Gleacher Center – my first time being there!

That evening was the huge cocktail reception with all the classes. Luckily I was able to run into three alums from my class (and two of their spouses) among the crowded noisy room of hundreds of people. One of the three was from Germany, underscoring the international flavor of the University of Chicago’s program.

Friday May 3rd was the annual Management Conference now normally held in conjunction with the reunion. Booth School of Business Dean Madhav Rajan kicked off the luncheon session (where I sat with some additional 40 year graduates including one from France) with a summary of Booth’s uniqueness and progress. Points included:
• Booth’s analytic data-driven approach to decision making is perhaps unique among business schools.
• The Booth School of Business has 3 Nobel Prize Winners on the faculty, which is 3 times the number of all the other top business schools combined!
• 42% of the current entering class are women (compared to about 15% when I was there.)
• He emphasized that our learning needs to have a positive impact on public life.

This is one thing I love about Chicago Booth – it is not all about greed and getting rich – the theme of having a positive impact on society kept permeating the weekend’s activities, including addressing poverty.

Attending a class at the new Gleacher Center

The Dean’s address was followed by an interview session with investor extraordinaire Howard Marks, 1969 Booth graduate and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management with over $120 billion in assets. Mr. Marks’ comments were sprinkled with his down to earth style and a great sense of humor. And we all received his latest book, “Mastering the Market Cycle.” Then we went back to various classes (read about the ones I intended in part 2) and that night I enjoyed a wonderful intimate dinner with the 25, 40, 45 and 50 reunion classes and a panel a distinguished Economic Professors.

And the weekend closed with meeting many younger diverse graduates and students later Saturday at the Booth LGBT gathering before heading to the airport for my late night flight home.

Here is Part 2 (link) where I write about the classes I attended Friday afternoon and the return to the Hyde Park main campus on Saturday.

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Stan Kimer, Booth MBA ’79, retired after a 31-year career at IBM and then formed his own diversity and career development consultancy, Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer.