News & Events

Vanderbilt Business 2024 Commencement

May 13, 2024
Maria Renz (MBA’96) delivers remarks to Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management Class of 2024 during the May 10 ceremony

By Lacie Blankenship

Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management celebrated Commencement Day for the Class of 2024 on May 10. Gathered in the Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center Field House, 141 students were awarded their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree; 91 earned a Master of Finance (MSF) degree; 37 were awarded a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) degree; 71 students were awarded a Master of Marketing (MMark) degree; and 37 students were awarded an Executive MBA (EMBA) degree. Thirty-two students from the Master of Management in Health Care (MMHC) program also participated in the ceremony; current students will complete their degrees later this year. 

Pictured: Chris Young (MBA'24) with Vanderbilt Business' Dean Steenburgh

Chris Young (MBA’24) shakes hands with Dean Steenburgh

Thomas Steenburgh, Ralph Owen Dean and Professor of Marketing, opened the ceremony with a note of personal gratitude, nodding to the conclusion of his first academic year with Vanderbilt Business. “I want to express my gratitude for the warm welcome I received since arriving at Owen; I’ve enjoyed getting to know all of you and learning more about what makes this a unique community,” he said. “Owen is a remarkable place where we look out for one another and support each other’s success.”

Steenburgh transitioned to a celebratory note, recognizing the Vanderbilt Business faculty and staff before introducing Maria Renz, the keynote speaker. “I want to celebrate the strength of the community; behind every student’s accomplishments stands a dedicated team of faculty and staff whose commitment and guidance have been unwavering,” he said.

Keynote Address

Commencement speaker, Maria Renz (MBA’96), Vice President and General Manager of Commerce for Google, echoed similar praise for the Vanderbilt community as she greeted the graduates, their friends, and their families. “Your Vanderbilt degree is a passport to all kinds of exciting opportunities,” she said. “It’s an achievement that signifies that you are committed to growing personally and professionally… Your degree is tangible proof that you have dared yourself to grow.”

Pictured: Maria Renz, Vanderbilt Business 2024 Commencement Speaker, standing at the podium delivering her keynote address.

Maria Renz speaks at the 2024 Commencement

Renz emphasized the versatility of the Dare to Grow concept and encouraged graduates to embrace the notion as a personal philosophy post-graduation. “[The Dare to Grow philosophy] implies self-awareness, resilience, and adaptability, and it isn’t easy,” she said. “Daring to grow means embarking on the road less traveled.” Renz also discussed overcoming self-doubt, taking risks, and the impact the Owen community continues to make on her personal and professional life. 

“At my commencement ceremony, I had no idea the role this community would play in my life. Trust me, neither do you,” she said. “Know that you are part of something special—a legacy of excellence that extends around the world. Cherish the friendships you have made, the mentors that have guided you, and the daring that your degree affords you.”

Want to continue the celebration?

Relive the Vanderbilt Business 2024 Commencement with us.

Awards and Recognition for Graduating Students 

Jennifer Edson Escalas, Associate Dean of Academic Programs, Dean Samuel B. and Evelyn R. Richmond Chair, Professor of Marketing, recognized the 2024 Founder’s Medalist and recipients of the Dean’s Awards for Academic Excellence. 

Founder’s Medalist 

University Chancellor Daniel Diermeier awarded Branson Horn (MBA’24) the Founder’s Medal for Vanderbilt Business. This annual Commencement Day award, initially endowed by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1877, is given to the MBA graduate who achieves the strongest record in personal, professional, and academic performance.  

Dean’s Awards for Academic Excellence

Andrew Martin received the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence in Master of Accountancy. 

Wan-Yu Lin received the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence in Master of Marketing. 

William Wei Teng Wu received the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence in Master of Science in Finance. 

Margaret Emley received the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence in Executive MBA. 

Elizabeth Snyder received the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence in Master of Management in Health Care. 

Awards and Recognition for Faculty 

Excellence in Teaching Award

Pictured: Evelyn Ward (MBA'24) and Brian T. McCann pose at the Vanderbilt Business 2024 Commencement.

Evelyn Ward (MBA’24) and Brian T. McCann

Brian T. McCann, Faculty Director of the Executive MBA Program, David K. Wilson Professorship, Professor of Management, and Faculty Director, Turner Family Center for Social Ventures, was presented the James A. Webb Excellence in Teaching Award by Evelyn Ward (MBA’24), Owen Student Government Association President Class of 2024.

The other finalists for this award were:

Yasin Alan, Associate Professor of Operations Management

Erik Olson, Assistant Professor of Accounting

Ranga Ramanujam, Richard M. and Betty Ruth Miller Chair, Professor of Management, Faculty Director of Health Care Programs, and Professor of Health Policy Secondary Appointment

Tim Vogus, Faculty Director, Leadership Development Program, Brownlee O. Currey, Jr., Professor of Management, and Deputy Director of the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation

Executive MBA Faculty Teaching Award 

Mumin Kurtulus, Associate Professor of Operations Management, was presented the Executive MBA Faculty Teaching Award by Ty Black (MBA’24).

Pictured: Mumin Kurtulus standing and smiling after his name was called in recognition of the Executive MBA Faculty Teaching Award.

Mumin Kurtulus after being recognized with the Executive MBA Faculty Teaching Award

The other finalists for this award were:

Michael R. Burcham, Faculty Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Professor of the Practice of Management

Brian T. McCann, Faculty Director of the Executive MBA Program, David K. Wilson Professorship, Professor of Management, and Faculty Director, Turner Family Center for Social Ventures

Rita B. Sowell, Adjunct Professor of Management (Statistics)

Dean’s Faculty Awards

Richard H. Willis, Associate Provost for Research and Innovation, Anne Marie and Thomas B. Walker, Jr., Professor of Accounting, and Senior Associate Dean for the Faculty, announced the recipients of the Dean’s Faculty Awards. 

Kelly L. Haws, Anne Marie and Thomas B. Walker Chair and Professor of Marketing, received the Faculty Research Impact Award in recognition of her sustained contributions to the field. 

Pictured: Vanderbilt Business' Richard H. Willis and Jennifer Edson Escalas from left to right. Willis and Escalas are sitting on stage at the 2024 Commencement.

Richard H. Willis and Jennifer Edson Escalas sit on stage at the 2024 Commencement

Daniel Cohen, Frances Hampton Currey Chair and Professor of Accounting, received the Faculty Research Productivity Award in recognition of his prolific scholarly contributions. 

Daniel Bias, Assistant Professor of Finance, received the Faculty Teaching Award in recognition of his innovative approach to teaching, including the development of a virtual teaching assistant based on ChatGPT. 

Emeritus Status 

Willis also recognized 3 faculty members who have been bestowed Emeritus status by the University’s Provost, Chancellor, and Board of Trust.

  • Mark A. Cohen, Justin Potter Professor of American Competitive Enterprise, Emeritus
  • Luke M. Froeb, William C. Oehmig Professor in Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Emeritus 
  • Craig M. Lewis, Madison S. Wigginton Professor of Finance, Emeritus 

Other Awards, Recognition, and Celebrations

Pictured: Some of Vanderbilt Business' most recent alumnae pose for a photo.

Graduates gathered on stage to take photos with their classmates after the ceremony

Following the May 10 Vanderbilt Business 2024 Commencement ceremony, Owen hosted the annual Berries & Bubbly event at Management Hall. This event was an opportunity for all programs and their guests to come together and toast to their accomplishments. At ceremonies held on Thursday, May 9, several other students were recognized for their achievements. 

Martin S. Geisel Leadership Award 

Ty Black (MBA’24) was recognized with the Martin S. Geisel Leadership Award, awarded to a graduating student who demonstrated strong leadership.

Matt Wigginton Finance Award 

James Keck (MBA’24) received the Matt Wigginton Finance Award, awarded for outstanding performance in finance. 

H. Igor Ansoff Award 

Evelyn Ward (MBA’24) was presented with the H. Igor Ansoff Award, which recognizes original and creative contributions to the school. 

Flournoy A. Coles Jr. Prize 

Ishan Desai (MBA’24) was awarded the Flournoy A. Coles Jr. Prize in recognition of international studies. 

Financial Executives Institute Award 

Alex Reynolds (MBA’24) was recognized with the Financial Executives Institute Award for outstanding academic performance in accounting and finance. 

Owen Service Award

Pictured: Shanna Adam (MMark'24) is in her graduation regalia. She is smiling big and throwing up the "Anchor Down" hand-sign while holding her diploma.

Shanna Adam (MMark’24)

Seventeen graduating students received the Owen Service Award for outstanding effort and energy in leadership, community involvement, and student life. 

  • Mohamed Hamza Abbassi (MSF’24)
  • Kevin Deng (MAcc’24)
  • Therese Donnelly (MBA’24)
  • Ishan Desai (MBA’24)
  • Samuel Ederle (MBA’24)
  • Elizabeth Eason (MBA’24)
  • Belle Gates (MMark’24)
  • Matthew Gordon (MBA’24)
  • Samantha Hoefs (MBA’24)
  • Jeffrey Kohl (MBA’24)
  • Gabriela Moran (MBA’24)
  • Mackenzie Murray (MBA’24)
  • Tanishka Parker (MBA’24)
  • Austin Simmons (MSF’24)
  • Alexander Sproviero (MBA’24)
  • Stephen Theisen (MBA’24)
  • Jack Wang (MSF’24)

Other Stories