Ninety years of breaking new ground in business education
From its inception ninety years ago as a regional school of business, to its role as an internationally recognized institution preparing principled leaders for global enterprise, Goizueta Business School has a long tradition of breaking new ground.
When Emory University was chartered and began construction in Atlanta in 1915, one of the first buildings erected was the Law Building—now Carlos Hall on the main quad—and one of its first occupants was the newly created School of Business Administration. Founded in 1919, the same year Emory College moved from bucolic Oxford to Atlanta, the School of Business Administration was an integral part of Emory’s expansion from a small-town college to a southern university. It took on the responsibility of teaching business law, economics, and accounting to undergraduates, and pursued its mission of preparing students of “broad social vision for business and public affairs.”
The student body grew quickly. By 1925, BBA enrollment hit 145, a number effectively sustained until the Second World War, when enrollment dropped and the business school temporarily merged with the College. Reorganized in 1946 and buoyed by a $250,000 donation from the president of the Rich Foundation for the construction of a new building, the school won national recognition in 1949 when it was admitted (the only one of 14 petitioning schools that year) to the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business. In 1961, when the AACSB began accrediting graduate programs in business, Emory’s MBA, introduced in 1954 under Dean Gordon Siefkin (1948–1958) and directed for twenty-five years by Arthur Dietz, was among the first approved.
Other marks of distinction followed. In 1958, the school launched an Advanced Management Program for upper-level executives, a six-week course held every winter at Sea Island, GA, that featured faculty from Harvard, MIT, Emory, and other universities. “The AMP became one of the most respected programs of its kind in the nation,” says James Hund, who taught at the business school for thirty years and was dean from 1965 to 1968. “It attracted prominent executives from across the country and lasted for nearly three decades.” By 1965, Emory was named one of the top American colleges and universities producing the country’s leading business executives.
Dean Hund, who served during the height of the civil rights movement, exemplified an additional kind of leadership, one long prized by the school: moral courage. In 1966, he invited a civil rights activist and economist to speak on campus as part of the Business School Lecture Series, and he also collaborated in a research project with the dean of Atlanta University’s School of Business on the contributions of African American entrepreneurs to the South’s economy.
“Taxis wouldn’t pick us up,” he remembers, “some restaurants wouldn’t serve us, and when we traveled for our research, hotels turned us away.”
Over the decades following the sixties, Emory’s graduate business program offerings multiplied. Two programs in particular reflected the school’s innovative leadership in business education: the Executive MBA (1979), the only one of its kind in the South at the time, and the joint business and theology degree (early 1980s), the first in the nation. “The EMBA program was Dean Al Bows’s [1975–1979] brainchild,” remembers Al Hartgraves, who has worked with five Goizueta deans and who served as interim dean in 1989. Dean George “Chip” Parks (1979–1986), Bows’s successor, implemented the EMBA program and also played a key role, along with MBA Program Director Brown Whittington, in developing Goizueta’s first international student exchange program with Johannes Kepler University in Austria.
Other initiatives have likewise underscored the business school’s creative drive for excellence. In 1964, Emory’s Graduate Business Association sponsored the first of many Intercollegiate Games, which selected teams from the best business schools across the nation to compete in business games using computer simulations. The top-scoring teams traveled to Emory for a final tournament over a long weekend. These annual events lasted for twenty-five years and were hugely popular, enhancing the business school’s reputation by showcasing its students in a way not unlike Goizueta’s annual, student-led Undergraduate Business School Leadership Conferences, inaugurated in 2000 and drawing participants from across the world, as well as the renowned annual MBA Marketing event.
None of these programs could have materialized without the foresight and guidance of the business school’s deans and the support of the school’s alumni and benefactors. From Dr. E. H. Johnson 1891C (1919–1940), who guided the school during its first two decades, to George S. Craft 1930C (1946–1948), who rebuilt the faculty from one member following WWII, to Goizueta’s current dean, Larry Benveniste (2005–present), the school’s leaders have spearheaded new program curricula, overseen massive building projects and renovations, created alliances with business executives across the globe, increased both the number and quality of faculty members, created enduring relationships with major donors, and established solid blueprints for the school’s future.
Hartgraves recalls in particular the pivotal leadership of Al Bows (1975–1979) and John Robson (1986–1989), both now deceased.
“Al Bows was the first dean to develop a national student recruiting strategy for the MBA program, and he was the first to gain significant outside funding, establishing the school’s first two endowed chairs” says Hartgraves. “He also oversaw a complete renovation of the Rich Building, including a new Management Center and Computer Center,” providing the school with much improved facilities for its mission of training students in sophisticated reasoning, entrepreneurial innovation, and ethical leadership.
John Robson, adds Hartgraves, came to Emory with “a clear mandate” to sustain and strengthen Emory’s position as a leading business school both nationally and internationally. Robson, says Hartgraves, “brought Emory into the national business spotlight and set the school in the direction it has been pursuing for the past 23 years.” In keeping with Robson’s commitment to the highest standards of excellence, one of his most significant contributions was the hiring of many of Goizueta’s longstanding senior faculty members, who played an integral role in the school’s emergence as a global leader of business education.
No school can thrive without alumni support and benefactors, and Emory’s business school was fortunate to have the leadership of Dean Ron Frank (1989–1998), who cultivated a strong relationship of trust and mutual respect with Roberto C. Goizueta, CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. As Hartgraves notes, “The most important single event in the school’s history was when Roberto Goizueta gave the school his name and influence (and later his bequest), because it clearly sent a message to the business and academic worlds that one of the world’s most respected companies and its CEO were committed to the school.”
Roberto C. Goizueta’s legacy broke new ground in several dimensions, including, of course, The Goizueta Building, which was dedicated in 1997 just a month before Mr. Goizueta’s passing, and The Goizueta Foundation Center, dedicated in 2005, which houses the school’s doctoral and executive education programs.
Dean Frank also directed the planning and implementation of Goizueta’s Evening MBA program, launched in 1992. Responding to the needs of the local business community, which at the time had no elite private MBA option available to it, the Evening MBA, says Frank, “increased the focus of the school’s education efforts for experienced professionals and diversified the market that it served.”
Tom Robertson (1998–2004), who accepted the deanship when Frank stepped down, says that Frank “made his job easy,” in that the school was on solid financial ground and was ranked as one of the best graduate schools in the US. “It allowed me to think about the big picture,” says Robertson, who established Goizueta’s PhD program and the Modular Executive MBA (MEMBA) in 2002. The doctoral program enhanced Goizueta’s profile in multiple ways, adds Robertson, “from intellectual climate to the creation of new knowledge, to increased publications, to senior faculty appointments.”
Robertson, who is now dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, notes that the MEMBA—among the first of such programs in the US—“has attracted business managers and executives from across the world,” helping to position Goizueta as a major international player.
Maryam Alavi, the John M. and Lucy Cook Professor of Information Strategy, served as interim dean when Robertson stepped down in 2005 and was instrumental in bringing Dean Benveniste to Goizueta. During that time, she both helped secure the school’s sustained leadership and developed the model that set the foundation for the school’s recently launched Leader Development Program.
Committed to the school’s pursuit of excellence despite the current economic downtown, Dean Benveniste has continued to strengthen the school’s academic foundation through the establishment of the Center for Alternative Investments, which also houses the Real Estate Program, and through greater collaboration with Emory Healthcare.
“We need to make sure we continue to be as innovative as we have been,” Benveniste says, “and to advance the collective achievements of the last ninety years.”
As Ron Frank puts it, “No dean is an island, and none of Goizueta’s accomplishments as a leading international business school would have been possible were it not for the quality, commitment, and support of the faculty, administration, student body, alumni, and friends.”