Summer 2023

Letter from the Dean

This has been an exciting year of firsts as we settle into the new building and reconnect our community. From hosting guests at Café 96 to holding Commencement celebrations in the Ingram Great Room, it is exciting to see the building supporting our mission and strategy.

I am also excited about the news that Tom Steenburgh will be joining us in July and believe the Owen community will thrive under his leadership. Tom is the right person to keep pushing Owen ahead and I look forward to working with him.

When I think about the last 10 years, people are what come to mind. From the early years of the Owen School, people like Tommy Walker, who paid his last visit to the library with his family to remember happy times and commit to an even bigger investment that allowed us to renovate and make the library our most popular space. Evelin Richmond, who visited shortly before her 100th birthday, to hear about our plans for expanding and renovating the building Dean Richmond oversaw. Bess Henderson, who came to celebrate Bruce Henderson’s impact on the strategy consulting industry. And, of course, many other early supporters like the Smith and Averbuch families, who doubled down on their investment in Owen in our latest campaign.

Those supporters were joined by many more, including Board of Visitors leaders David Ingram, Tom Barr, John Brock, Adena Friedman, Paul Jacobson, A.J. Kazimi, Gigi Lazenby, Doug Parker, Neil Ramsey, Sean Rogers, Julie Stadler, and John Underwood. Their early commitment to the vision put wind in our sails and brought many more people together. Passionate Alumni Board leaders like Bruce Brochenborough, James Herrin, John Hawkins, Wes Murray, Matt Peterson, Erika Rogers, Maria Renz, Jon Stevens, Emily Tobin, Brent Turner, and Dave Zinsner built community engagement in cities throughout the U.S. The endless enthusiasm of Heiki Miki and Derek Young helped us form the Asia Alumni Board and extend our community thousands of miles from Nashville and build partnerships with alumni like Prashant Khemka and Huimin Wu. And people who helped us launch important programming, like Cal Turner with the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures, Jack and Carolyn Long with the Center for Entrepreneurship, and Beth Torres with the Owen Board Fellows Program. As we cut the ribbon on the new building in April, we reached commitments to name 40 spaces in the building, including every new classroom—commitments from families from across the globe that represent the next 50 years for Owen.

I also think of amazing students like Sarah Berhalter, who traveled with me on Project Pyramid trips in Asia and Central America. Sarah went from leading a project team in Kathmandu to leading people and engagement strategy at Boston Consulting Group. Or trailblazers like James Murray, who helped launch Humans of Owen and went on to build a startup that addresses inclusive mental health and wellness.

Sadly, I also think of the friends we lost along the way. Longtime faculty like Germain Böer, Gary Scudder, Jim Schorr, Hans Stoll, and Marty Weingartner. And dear friends like Tami Fassinger and Mike Saint along with students who died far too young like Taylor Force and Nii Amar Amarfio. They all live on in the Owen community. Who could ever forget Germain’s challenge—Never Give Up!

Lastly, I am deeply grateful to my closest colleagues in the Dean’s Office who helped guide Owen through the travails of building renovations, the dark days of COVID, and the celebrations of success—Richard Willis, Nancy Hyer, Lindsay Donald, Nate Luce, Sue Oldham, Stella Vazna, and Cherrie Wilkerson.

The best is yet to come!

M. Eric Johnson
Ralph Owen Dean
Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy

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