Autumn on the University of Michigan campus delivers a vivid palette of breathtaking color. But only two colors really matter to Michigan Ross students and alumni: maize and blue.
In October I traveled from coast to coast, visiting alumni in California and New York. Then I welcomed graduates back to campus for our annual Reunion Weekend. What an impressive array of human capital, our institution's greatest asset.
As for that human capital, prospects look increasingly good going forward. I'm pleased to report that Ross was one of only two schools nationwide to experience a recent increase in applications to our Full-time MBA Program. Numbers were up 7.6 percent for the class of 2013, an admissions statistic I am confident was enhanced by the efforts of our alumni who live and work in more than 88 countries.
My visit to the Bay Area for the school's West Coast Forum illustrated the gamut our graduates span in the venture capital and entrepreneurial communities. Investment banker Sandy Robertson, BBA '53/MBA '54, landed in Silicon Valley in 1965 and went on to co-found the boutique bank Robertson Stephens, one of the "four horsemen" of technology investing. The bank ultimately closed in 2002, but Sandy always will be known for helping to fund an entire sector of the American economy (think Dell, AOL, Pixar, etc.). At the other end of the spectrum, entrepreneur Benzi Ronen, MBA '98, recently took skills he gleaned from tech giants Netscape and Microsoft Corp. and founded Farmigo Inc. This burgeoning startup harnesses social media and the popular locavore movement to bring together consumers and farmers in a purely entrepreneurial model of food production and distribution.
Just days later I was at the historic Waldorf-Astoria, marveling at the energetic alumni representing Ross in the hub of global finance. Our New York club president Cecil Shepherd, MBA '00, is a VP at JP Morgan Chase & Co., yet somehow he finds time to be one of the school's most enthusiastic ambassadors, networking with students, supporting applicants, and reminding fellow graduates that an engaged alumni base benefits us all.
So often as dean, one is consumed with the day-to-day affairs on campus. We are meeting with students, faculty, and staff, striving to create the most productive experience for the entire community. But our thoughts are never far from our alumni. As dean at Ross, I'm fortunate to have access to a worldwide network of innovators who not only are transforming business, but are working hard to ensure that maize and blue outshine every color in the spectrum.