The past year was a charged one in the U.S. Donald Trump moved into the White House and a heap of controversial executive orders, legislative actions, and tweets followed. Tragedies — both natural and human-inflicted — abounded. But it was also a year for hope. Women, once silent, began to speak out against sexual harassment and assault. Social justice movements emerged, grew, and persisted. And economies continue to grow inside and outside the U.S.
To be sure, B-schools do not exist in a vacuum. While having their own unique quarks, they are very much a part of the world. They are affected by natural and human-inflicted disasters. They’ve been altered by white nationalism and travel bans. And they’ve played their role in social justice movements.
This year we covered all of that. In the world of rankings, acceptance emails, and grueling admissions process, it’s easy to forget that B-schools exist as a cog in the greater business world and society. We’ve decided to dig through our 2017 archives and pull out some of our favorite articles we wrote that highlight just that. Some of the articles received tens of thousands of views and dozens of heated comments. Others received little fanfare. But they all played an important piece of capturing the B-school pulse for 2017.
During the fall of 2016, MBA students across the nation joined in the protests of the police killings of Terence Crutcher and Keith Scott by wearing black and standing or sitting in front of their B-schools. This past February, Tiffany Smith, who graduated from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management last spring, decided to take the momentum built in 2016 to action in 2017. Smith took the hashtag that united the photos from various campuses — #MBAsOpenUp — and created a coalition called MBAsOpenUp to unite other MBA students “who are passionate about diversity and inclusion, and more specifically racial equality on a systemic level – and who think that’s an important part of who we are as business leaders and people.”
The story is a microcosm of a greater movement of MBA students and faculty becoming more and more involved in campus social movements. As the article, which was written by two Dartmouth Tuck MBA Class of 2017 graduates, points out, Andy King, a strategy professor at Tuck created a petition in late 2016 for faculty and staff to voice concerns about upcoming immigration policies. At Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School, an open letter from Lilian Ngobi-Pryor, another 2017 MBA graduate, created an influx of inclusion efforts at the Tepper School.
The letter reads: “We are here not only to get this amazing management education and get these great jobs but we are also here because we are indebted to our society and indebted to ensure the sustainability and goodness in our future.”
Hurricane Harvey was the first of a wave of three massive Atlantic hurricanes. It was the beginning of the end of one of the worst hurricane seasons the Atlantic has seen in modern history. On August 25th — right as many MBAs were moving onto campuses around the country — Harvey slammed into the Texas coast with 130 mile per hour winds, unleashing more than 60 inches of rain in certain points in Texas and Louisiana in about a week’s time.
Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business was in the thick of it. Knowing the storm would make landfall nearby — and that it was a storm of epic proportions — the business school took a page from the playbook it teaches. They opened a live action communication line between staff and students working out any logistics necessary to keep students safe and help them find dry housing if necessary. Students, faculty, and staff that were safe were recruited to remain in contact with assigned lists of students that were not as fortunate.
Our coverage of the event explores the selflessness and ingenuity of Jones faculty, students, and staff — and everything from Dean Peter Rodriguez’s efforts to personally pickup and drive students and their spouses to safety to a Jones faculty member getting in a canoe and paddling the floodwaters to help other Houston residents.