Winter 2022

Letter from the Dean

We spend a lot of time and energy at the Owen School teaching students about change. There’s an underlying premise to these lessons that’s easy to understand but difficult to manage. The key to success for leaders and organizations is to make positive change while managing the changes that have been made for us – often under circumstances beyond our control – and the changes we choose to make.

Through case preparation, group projects, independent study, internships, and more, our students get to practice this balance of making and managing change. I’d like to think we do an excellent job, given our alumni’s track record of representation in the c-suites of the most successful companies in the world (and the success our graduates have securing employment; see pages 34-35 for highlights of a banner year).

As an organization, Owen faces the same challenge, and we have felt it keenly over the past 3 years. For every positive change we strive to make, whether it’s the renovation and expansion of Management Hall or naming our first EDI Director (see page 2), there are other existential changes, including economic upheaval and world conflict, that we’ve been forced to contend with, and they’ve affected us personally and professionally. There have been periods where we spend far more time managing instead of making, which happens when you try to bring great, time-intensive projects to life.

For me, seeing students, faculty, and staff walk through the doors of our nearly completed building at the start of Mod 1 brought an overwhelming feeling of pride, both in the impact of the change we set out to make and the way our community bonded together to help manage it. Management Hall buzzed with the energy of a new school year we feel every fall – even during the earlier days of the pandemic – and the anticipation of a new era in the life of the school.

The new era is off to an eventful start. Faculty are producing impactful research across a variety of fields, some of which they are forging themselves (see pages 16-19). After more than a year of work to reimagine our culture, we have introduced the “Owen Essentials” to perpetuate a strong sense of Owen’s culture for the next generation of students (see page 3). Thanks to the great success of the Chancellor’s daring initiative, Destination Vanderbilt, we have welcomed 6 new faculty, as well as several key staff, and introduced new STEM designations for our MBA and Master of Marketing programs (see pages 4-6).

We also hosted a triple reunion, the first of its kind in Owen history. We were thrilled to welcome hundreds of Owen alumni back to Management Hall and throw a truly unique Closing Bell at the Parthenon (see pages 28-29 for photos).

Through recent years, the support of the alumni community has been critical to our ability to make and manage the change, and as always, you have risen to the occasion. I’m so grateful for your support. I encourage you to stop by Management Hall soon and see the change in progress.

All the best,

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

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