It’s been quite a year. 2016 is one many are just trying to close out and get through, a year that saw two of the Western world’s most surprising elections, more worldwide terrorist attacks, and continued and escalating tension between and within nations. And there was no dearth of colorful quotes from our reporting. Doom and gloom aside, business schools — and the students, faculty, and administrators who comprise the campuses — are often entertaining and witty, and almost always intelligent and quick to share opinions.
As a result, it was tougher to keep the below list within a suitable word count than it was to nail down the moving, zany, hilarious, and disturbing things said to us this year. Below you will find insights that will inspire and infuriate you. There will be quotes and storylines that give hope and others that prove society has a long way to go. In all, 2016 was a year full of turns and twists — good and bad — and a whole lot of motivation to continue to grow and be better.
Below, in no order, are our favorite quotes from 2016.
Adlai Wertman probably could have made up over half this list. The former investment banker turned director of the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab is a quote machine. Late last year, Poets&Quants spent the day with Wertman on USC’s Los Angeles campus, where Wertman is the academic director, learning about the school’s Master of Science in Social Entrepreneurship degree. Wertman was instrumental in the establishment of the program, and his life is a case study in a complete career shift.
“For me, going to Wall Street was a mistake. I never should have done it,” Wertman told Poets&Quants in his USC office. “You can ask my wife, I barely had a happy day in 18 years on Wall Street. I just happened to be good at it. But I was pretty miserable.”
“Nobody leaves Wall Street voluntarily,” Wertman continued. “Some can’t hack it, get fired, or quit. But it’s Wall Street, man. You’re the investment bankers. You’re the kings of the universe. Nobody leaves. But I always assumed I was going to leave and do community work. It was just a matter of when.”
It’s not the typical thing for a professor to say in front of a room full of MBAs before the semester’s final presentations. But those were the words spoken by Will Rosenzweig during the culmination of the first-ever Food Venture Lab course offered on a business school campus. Rosenzweig, an adjunct professor at the University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business and the dean of the Food Business School at the Culinary Institute of America, introduced the class during the fall semester of 2016. It was the first-ever course at Berkeley Haas that included students from all MBA programs — and it was so popular that the school had to move it from a small seminar classroom to a large lecture hall. The popularity served to signal the growing popularity of food business among elite B-school campuses.
“We’re living at a moment where it feels like everything about food is changing,” Rosenzweig later told Poets&Quants. “From what we’re being told to eat, how things are being grown, the conditions in which food is being grown is changing dramatically — the way food is getting to market, the way food is being delivered to people’s homes and plates.”
It’s no secret higher education in the U.S. has an ongoing sexual harassment and assault problem. From Greek life to athletics to faculty and administrators, the issue continues to be pervasive and disturbing. Nor are elite business schools immune. This past year, Columbia Business School was at the center of a $20 million lawsuit involving senior finance professor Geert Bekaert and researcher Enrichetta Ravina. The two collaborated on a project for two and a half years before Ravina came forward to allege that Bekaert had made multiple unwanted advances despite her making it clear they were unwelcome. In March, Ravina filed the lawsuit against Columbia University, alleging gender discrimination, a hostile work environment, quid pro quo sexual harassment, retaliation, failure to promote, and wrongful discharge.
“He asked me if I had a boyfriend and if I lived with him,” Ravina told Poets&Quants in March. “I said, ‘Look, this is a dinner among colleagues and I appreciate our work together and want to continue to work together.’ He started laughing.” Allegedly, Bekaert then “put his hand” on Ravina’s back before he “slid it down.”
“I was extremely worried,” Ravina continued. “He was a senior colleague and was assigned to me by my department. He seemed friendly the next day and didn’t seem offended at all. Then, he started telling me about his sexual exploits and how many women were giving him compliments.”
Comedian and Dartmouth Tuck MBA Paul Ollinger is always good for a laugh. And his book, You Should Totally Get An MBA, is full of them. Released in April, Ollinger’s book is a first-person account of his experience and his conclusions about whether, indeed, an MBA is actually worth all of the money and time. Like Adlai Wertman, Ollinger could fill this entire list.
“My brain felt like it was in the same shape as my middle-aged body,” Ollinger wrote in an article for Poets&Quants when we asked him to take the GMAT cold after last taking it more than two decades earlier. “Which means that my frontal lobe is balding and my cerebellum sports man-boobs and a muffin-top. Perhaps it’s natural atrophy, but it couldn’t have been helped by 15 years of trans-scalp Rogaine absorption.”