Dear Fellow Alumni:
I recently had the pleasure of addressing and welcoming new Wharton students, both the undergraduate and graduate candidates. During my talks with them, I asked and then attempted to answer the question: What is Wharton?
Let’s start with what most people know. We know that Joseph Wharton founded the school in 1881 as the very first institution of business education and that our 125th anniversary is approaching next year with plenty of celebration to come. Of course, we know that both the undergraduate and MBA programs are consistently cited as the world’s most prestigious programs. It is also well known that we just completed a record-setting $425-million capital campaign, strengthening our endowment and creating a state-of-the-art center of learning right in the center of campus, Jon M. Huntsman Hall.
I continued my discussion with the new students by addressing a topic that is not as well publicized and talked about when Wharton is the subject: Wharton, simply, is about people.
Wharton is a combination of the most extraordinary people one can imagine — incredible students, world-class faculty and staff, and the tightest and most connected alumni around — forming an irreplaceable mosaic of brilliance, talent, experience, youthful enthusiasm, 30,000-foot, big-picture thinking and practical hands-on “in the trenches” opportunities. It’s also very much about the connections that each of these groups of people make within their groups and, more importantly, among the other groups.
What kinds of connections? Let’s examine just a few:
• An alum in New York who meets five new meaningful business contacts working in a “leads council” set up for that very purpose.
• A group of alumni who attend an alumni conference in Shanghai, then hatch an idea for a new private equity fund.
• A student, who benefits from an externship visit to a New York law firm run by an alum, gets a summer internship there, helps design the firm’s marketing plan, and assists with the planning and implementation of a student conference filled with alumni speakers that the student met as a result the externship.
• Jobs, jobs, jobs: An alumnus scoured the private equity community and helped to create 75 previously unavailable internships during the depths of the recession.
• An alumni information database, the Wharton Alumni/Student Network, that is available to all MBA students and upper-class undergraduates, with the ability for each alumnus to indicate that they are willing to be contacted by students and fellow alumni.
What else are Wharton people doing? More and more, we are wearing our pride visibly. Despite Penn’s background, which values modesty, we have not hesitated to mention the Wharton name wherever possible. Wharton faculty are seen regularly on news and cable channels, writing books, conducting ground-breaking research, and touring the world speaking about today’s most relevant topics. More and more of our biographical information prominently mentions the Wharton name. And, of course, the School has received an enormous amount of free publicity thanks to alumnus Donald Trump’s tremendous success with “The Apprentice.”
I hope all of our alumni will think about what Wharton means to them and how to extend these feelings worldwide. Help us all promote and protect the Wharton brand. Wear the Wharton name (buy some shirts!).
Reconnect by coming back to campus, whether to speak, visit, or just explore with the administration how you can give back, not just with your money, but with your time, experience and talent (as this issue’s cover story illustrates).
If you are not sure how to get started, feel free to email me directly (see below). We as alumni have a special obligation to make sure that we continually leverage our history with Wharton. This will happen if we all make the effort to reach out and benefit from our experience with this great institution.
As always, if you are currently an active member of Wharton’s alumni network, thank you for your dedication. If you are interested in getting involved and would like to find out more information about volunteer opportunities, please contact the Alumni Affairs office at email@example.com. There are many ways in which you can make a difference. Start by going to wave.wharton.upenn.edu to update your information and find a Wharton alumni club in your region or your area of interest.
I look forward to continuing our dialogue with you in this column this year. Please feel free to call or email me directly with any questions.
Thank you for your support of the Wharton Alumni Association.
David N. Feldman, Esq., W’82, L’85
Chairman, Wharton Alumni Association
Club Spotlight: The Wharton Club of Dallas/Fort Worth
When you’re passing through the Dallas/Fort Worth area, drop by one of the Dallas/Fort Worth Wharton Club events and say “howdy” to the 800+ alumni in North Texas! The DFW Wharton Club hosts monthly events during the school year, and all visitors are welcome. The club’s typical alumni events consist of networking followed by brief presentations by key executives from local businesses. Presentations are generally followed by Q&A sessions, so there are plenty of opportunities for interaction. Past speakers have included Robert Crandall, the former CEO of American Airlines, and Robert Cavanaugh, the CFO of JC Penney. The club also has had scores of alumni turning out for our popular panel discussions. Over the last two years, the club has hosted panels on topics such as Customer Relationship Management, Working with Executive Recruiters, and Wireless Technology. In response to member requests for more informal opportunities to meet fellow alumni, the club has re-launched its Wharton Club Happy Hours.
One of the Dallas/Fort Worth club’s broader strategies has been to interact with other area clubs, with the goal of providing members with more opportunities for networking among local business leaders. They have successfully invited other Ivy League alumni clubs to selected events and partnered with their clubs’ events. For example, the club recently partnered with the HBS and Columbia alumni clubs to produce a program featuring Michael Jordan, Chairman and CEO of EDS.
The DFW Club has an outstanding line-up of events for the fall. The Dallas Business Leaders speaker series will include:
• Business Intelligence – Strategic Insights (PepsiCo)
• Travel Industry Post 9/11 (Travelocity)
• Reverse Mergers – Going Public Without an IPO (David Feldman)
• Internet Security (Entrust) and
• The Kinko’s Turnaround Story.
So, when you’re planning a trip to Dallas or Fort Worth, take a look on the DFW club web page www.whartonfw.org to see what events are planned. The club looks forward to offering a big Texas welcome to any students, alumni, faculty and prospective students who would like to attend.