Vanderbilt University and the Owen Graduate School of Management this week are mourning a beloved long-time member of the Owen community. When Tami Fassinger, 55, died August 15 in Nashville, she was chief admissions and recruiting officer — an important role that “touched every degreed program at the school.” Yet it was only the most recent title in a career with the school that stretched back to 1989 and included stints in its Career Management Center and leading roles in its admissions department and executive programs.
“Tami spent much of her career helping MBA students launch careers,” said M. Eric Johnson, Ralph Owen dean and Bruce D. Henderson professor of strategy, in an announcement of Fassinger’s passing. “Throughout her career Tami contributed to the profession. She worked tirelessly on behalf of Owen alumni. Over the past three decades, Tami was part of the Owen community fabric, helping numerous students and alumni navigate careers.”
Fassinger’s most recent focus was on innovation and exploring how to meet changing demands in graduate business education. She also oversaw the launch of the VU2MBA admission option for Vanderbilt undergraduates.
‘TAMI BROUGHT ENORMOUS ENERGY TO EVERY GROUP SHE TOUCHED’
Fassinger graduated from Vanderbilt in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in Russian. Four years later, she went to work in Owen’s Career Management Center as the first associate director of career planning, promoting the school’s national visibility. The result was both strong placement records and student praise. Fassinger went on to run the MBA Admissions team in 1994.
After a stint in the private sector, Fassinger returned to Owen in 2004 as associate dean of executive programs, directing recruitment and student services. She was responsible for the launch of the Americas MBA for Executives, now called the Global Immersion Track, and the Master of Management in Healthcare.
Fassinger was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, but continued to contribute to Vanderbilt Owen until very recently, including organizing and attending Closing Bell events for the last three years — the school’s name for weekly alumni gatherings in key cities, a 47-year tradition.
“Tami brought enormous energy to every group she touched,” Dean Johnson wrote in a LinkedIn tribute to Fassinger. “A long-time contributor to the EMBA Council, Tami was elected to its Board of Trustees in 2016. In 2017, EMBAC debuted a new award to recognize innovation in the EMBA industry, making Tami the first recipient, and subsequently naming the award ‘The Tami Fassinger Spirit of Innovation Award.’
“At that time, Michael Desiderio, EMBAC executive director, noted, ‘Tami embodies the spirit of pursuing novel ideas that help advance the industry.’”
IN FASSINGER’S NAME, A VENUE FOR MEETING, TALKING & LEARNING
Through the support of Vanderbilt alumni, particularly members of Owen’s Alumni Board, the Owen School recently built a fireplace as part of the Walker Library renovation and dedicated it to Fassinger. “Three weeks ago, she spent an afternoon there to celebrate the official naming of the Tami Fassinger Executive Fireplace,” Johnson wrote in his online tribute to Fassinger. “The Fassinger Fireplace is a venue where students can meet alumni and visiting executives to make new friends and learn about careers.”
Fassinger is survived by her husband Glen and two daughters, Leah (BE/BA’18) and Jenna, a current Vanderbilt student. “Tami and Glen were both so proud that their two daughters also joined the Vanderbilt family,” Johnson wrote. “At any social gathering, everyone knew that Tami loved her daughters, loved to cook and loved to eat! We all enjoyed many of her creations. She and Glen also enjoyed many of Nashville’s eclectic music venues and enjoyed introducing others to those places. Some of my favorite memories with Tami include the Full Moon Pickin Party and The Loveless Cafe.
“Her spirit will surely live on anytime the Owen family gathers for food and fellowship.”