News & Events


Letter from the Dean.

Dean Eric JohnsonThis time every year, for 50 years, students have walked into the Owen Graduate School of Management for the first time. Eager and maybe a little nervous, they meet classmates, professors and administrators in the classrooms, in the lobby, at any number of professional and social events. They do their level best to absorb and process all the information delivered to them in classes, info sessions, club meetings and closing bells. They open their minds and hearts to new experiences, career possibilities and fields of study.

More often than not, they quickly arrive at the understanding that, during the coming months or years at Vanderbilt, they will learn a lot about who they are and who they want to become. Perhaps most important, they will measure that gap between themselves and their aspirations and, in time, better understand what it takes to close it.

Some of those classmates, faculty and staff will become lifelong friends, advisers, and maybe even business partners. Students will build the skills they need to launch the next phase of their careers, and then they’ll leave for the professional world as quickly as they arrived at Owen. Brief as the business school experience can feel, our bond with the community
remains long after that first day of school.

That’s the power of personal scale. The faces, facilities and offerings have changed during the past 50 years, but our approach to business education, in the most fundamental sense, has not. In this issue we trace the evolution of Owen, from the Cosmopolitan Funeral Home (later renamed Alexander Hall) to the present day, when arriving students find themselves with countless opportunities to discover and develop their interests in almost every area of business.

I hope the stories in this issue underscore how our past has influenced the future of the school. Student clubs formed in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s carry on today, adapting to current interests and needs. We remain a close-knit community that addresses the educational needs of the day, with an expanding portfolio of programs that speaks to our expertise and enriches our student body. Our alumni base, nearly 10,000 strong, comprises leaders across every industry who have realized their aspirations.

Reading these stories, I can’t help but turn toward the next 50 years at Owen. The future of business education certainly will require more innovation, new program structures and methods of delivery, not to mention the facilities to support them. Change is inevitable. So is our commitment to world-class education on a personal scale. The first day of school
50 years from now may look remarkably different, but that feeling, that personal connection, should remain the same.

I look forward to celebrating Owen at 50 this October at Reunion. Thank you for all you do to give back to Owen. If you have a moment, please visit our
50th anniversary website to celebrate our history at

All the best,

Ralph Owen Dean Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy

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