May 26, 2011
Dear Members of the Babson Community:
May 14 was an ideal spring day for Commencement. The weather provided the perfect backdrop to this celebratory event for our graduates, their families and friends, and many other members of the Babson community. Throughout Commencement weekend, students were recognized for their broad array of accomplishments and leadership, and there was a strong sense of Babson spirit displayed by all. It was inspiring from start to finish—a fitting culmination to an exciting year.
There Is Nothing Like Commencement
469 undergraduates and 466 graduate students participated in their graduation ceremonies. At the undergraduate ceremony in the morning, Biz Stone, Co-founder of Twitter, and Bill Drayton, Founder and CEO of Ashoka, spoke and Biz Stone received an Honorary Degree. Bill Drayton also spoke in the afternoon at the graduate school ceremony and received an Honorary Degree at that time.
Both honorees have been at the leading edge of ideas that are driving social change. There is no doubt that Twitter is changing the world 140 characters at a time. In his remarks, Biz Stone encouraged students to create their own opportunities and “to be as creative as you like, as often as you like, because creativity is a renewable resource.” He also said that “in order to succeed spectacularly, you must be ready to fail spectacularly.” Bill Drayton advised students not to accept entrenched ideas in organizations that resist change. He urged them to take the skills they have learned at Babson and—respectfully and politely—challenge and push the status quo. The messages of both of our speakers were not only mutually consistent; they also reinforced the fundamentals of a Babson education.
What was so striking to me at Commencement this year is how connected both the undergraduate and graduate Class of 2011 are with their classmates. They have done different (and many amazing) things together, which has instilled a close camaraderie. During their years here, approximately 10% of the senior class joined Dean Dennis Hanno on the January Ghana (off-shore course) experience, which these students cite as a life-changing experience. At the graduate school, even in their last incredibly busy week, students took a day off to work together on Babson Gives Back—a series of service projects at 7 different sites across the Boston area.
The connections that our newest undergraduate and MBA alumni have made throughout their Babson education will be a lucky network for them in the future. As I said at Commencement, people can create their own good luck—and one essential ingredient is building and maintaining a strong network of luck—long-lasting attachments with people. Unquestionably, their lucky Babson network will help promote opportunity in the lives of our graduates.
Babson’s Reputation Has “Taken Off”
One reason we attract such extraordinary students is the continued growth in the College’s reputation, however you measure it. We are accustomed to being ranked No. 1 in entrepreneurship education, and we continue as the undisputed leader in the field. As the two most recent examples, in March our graduate school was ranked No. 1 in entrepreneurship by U.S. News & World Report for the 18th consecutive year. And, for the first time ever, in April Bloomberg BusinessWeek added entrepreneurship as a new category to its undergraduate specialty program rankings. Babson was No. 1.
Also, Babson’s leadership across multiple disciplines is increasingly being recognized. You may have seen some of the rankings and surveys that follow in messages I emailed to the community this spring. Collectively, they tell a powerful story of how Babson is viewed across the world.
- Bloomberg BusinessWeek, in its “Best Undergraduate Business Schools of 2011,” ranked Babson No. 20. We also ranked in the top ten in the following four disciplines:
- No. 3 in Sustainability
- No. 6 in Financial Management
- No. 7 in Corporate Strategy
- No. 7 in International Business
- Bloomberg BusinessWeek, using PayScale’s survey of 693 colleges and universities across the U.S., ranks Babson as No. 11 for the return on investment for its graduates. The 30-year net ROI for Babson graduates was calculated as $1,468,000.
- Inc. Magazine named Babson’s Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) course to its 10 Best Entrepreneurship Courses of 2011.
- Our graduate school was named by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine as one of the “Best Business Schools for a ‘Green Business’ Education.”
- Based on a broad-based survey of Boston area businesses, Babson was named by the Boston Business Journal as one of the three most admired educational institutions, along with MIT and Harvard.
- A report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching praises 10 American colleges of business as models for integrating the liberal arts and practical training—and Babson is one of them.
- We are among the top 10 private colleges and universities in the country with the best graduation rates; that is, the highest percentage of students graduating in four years.
- A survey released earlier this month of parents of seniors who graduated last May reveals an extraordinary level of satisfaction with their investment in a Babson education. 97% of parents report that they are satisfied with their sons’ and daughters’ undergraduate education—76% are very satisfied and 21% are satisfied.
- In its 2011 rankings, Financial Times ranks Babson Executive Education as No. 6 in the U.S. and No. 15 in the world—and our faculty are ranked as No. 6 worldwide.
Although Babson would be as distinctive and unique regardless of its rankings, the improvement in our standing strengthens our academic reputation and increases the value of a Babson degree—especially in parts of the U.S. and the world where the College is less well-known. At the same time, we are also growing the Babson brand in Greater Boston in new and important ways.
Lemonade Day: A Home Run for Babson Locally
On May 1, Babson, partnering with Mayor Menino and a number of youth-based agencies, launched Lemonade Day in Boston. The program was started in Houston in 2007 by Prepared 4 Life. Since then, over 66,000 young people, ages 5-15, have set up lemonade stands in 14 cities around the U.S. on the first Saturday in May and learned hands-on lessons in what it takes to run a small business. Before “opening for business,” each young person prepares by working with an adult mentor, using an entrepreneurial workbook. Children are encouraged—after covering their expenses and paying back investors—to open a youth savings account so they can save a little, spend a little, and give a little, donating a portion of their profits to a local charity of their choice.
When May 1 arrived, more than 700 lemonade stands were set up in Greater Boston and volunteers included FME students, staff, alumni, and sponsors. Next year Babson’s Alumni & Friends Network, which organized the event, plans to get an earlier start—building on this year’s success and broadening the participation of students, alumni, staff, other volunteers, and sponsors.
Babson Expands to New Locations
In March, we celebrated the opening of Babson’s graduate student hatchery space—called the Boston Hatchery at MassChallenge—on Boston’s waterfront in the Innovation District. These hatcheries function like incubators where student entrepreneurs have access to professional and semiprivate workspace to test out their ideas and grow their businesses, as well as have access to mentors and other entrepreneurs. Our MBA student businesses go through an application process to be selected, and teams are awarded hatchery space one term at a time. Going forward, the hatchery offers an ongoing opportunity for Babson startups to be linked to a broader community of entrepreneurs—the first step in what we expect to be a larger Babson role in the Innovation District.
Babson also established a presence in San Francisco this spring. In April, we celebrated the grand opening of a “home” in San Francisco’s South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood. The new facility, equipped with the latest classroom technologies and tele-presence capabilities, houses Babson’s Fast Track MBA program. It is home to 53 new students who started the program in April and 32 students who started in March 2010. The facility will also give us needed space as we expand our West Coast MBA program.
More ... Better ... Different—Upcoming Programs/Activities on Campus This Summer
Our robust array of programs and offerings during the summer months give new meaning to a vibrant Babson campus throughout the year. We have more programs than ever before; they reflect “best in class” teaching and research; and we are offering new programs tailored to the needs of different constituencies. A case in point are the programs, described below, offered for the first time for high school students.
Greater utilization of the campus during the summer has positive implications for College finances, builds our brand by introducing new constituencies to Babson, and represents further progress toward our 3 strategic goals—be known as THE educator for entrepreneurship of all kinds; extend our capabilities to the world; and ensure a fully sustainable financial model for the College.
Following are highlights of upcoming summer activities on campus:
- Babson will host the first annual Global Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education (GCEE) Summit for members and prospect institutions. Member schools are:
Two soon-to-be members currently finalizing agreements are Centrum Catolica in Peru and Shiv Nadar Foundation in India.
- Abu Dhabi School of Management, UAE
- Bangkok University, Thailand
- Institute of Business Administration, Pakistan
- School of Business Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile
- More than 400 undergraduate and graduate students from 11 countries will be on campus for various one- and two-week offerings of the Babson Entrepreneurship Program, now part of Babson Executive and Enterprise Education, which teaches core concepts of Entrepreneurial Thought and Action.®
- 63 entrepreneurs and educators from 15 countries representing all regions of the world will come to campus for the Price-Babson Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators. While historically this flagship program has run once a year, in 2011 it is running twice, with both offerings filled to capacity.
- Bridging the Cultural Divide through Entrepreneurship, modeled on our FME course and led by Babson Professor Ted Grossman, will focus on the potential to bridge political and cultural differences through entrepreneurship. 44 Israeli and Palestinian students will learn entrepreneurship skills and how to establish businesses over 7 weeks on campus. They will split into two comingled groups to write business plans for ventures that they will launch when they return home. Through distance learning, we will communicate with and mentor them weekly when they are back in the Middle East. Also, every few months they will be reunited to meet venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs in the region.
- LeadAmerica and Babson are partnering to launch the Leadership and the Entrepreneur Conference. The 10-day conference will immerse college-bound high school students in Babson’s entrepreneurial environment so they can develop their creativity and presentation skills, as well as learn to sell themselves and their ideas.
- Three new Summer Study Programs are being offered for the first time this summer to outstanding high school students. Two 7-week college-credit courses are residential programs: 1) the Babson Idea Generation Program, for students who want to create innovative practical solutions to social, economic, and environmental issues; and 2) the Babson Entrepreneur Development Experience for students who want to start businesses. A third one-week non-residential course is the Service Learning Experience for sophomores who want to spend their summer doing service learning.
- We have dramatically increased summer course offerings for our undergraduates. They will receive more than 2,500 credit hours for courses they are taking this summer—almost a quadrupling over the past five years.
- The Grow. Achieve. Prepare (GAP) student cohort who enrolled in January will complete FME and other coursework. These 33 students will finish their first year by August, beginning their sophomore year in September with the rest of their classmates.
- Students from three graduate school programs will be attending classes: 59 students from Babson, EMLYON (France), and Zhejiang University (China) will complete the last semester of the Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP), the world’s first Masters program in global entrepreneurship; students in the one-year MBA program began classes in May; and our evening program students continue taking classes throughout the summer.
- Eleven teams of undergraduate and MBA students and recent alums will be participating in the Summer Venture Program. This 10-week intensive experience is designed to accelerate the development of student entrepreneurial ventures. Teams receive housing, work space, mentors, a speaker series, and other resources to help their businesses. The program concludes with a Demo Day where each team presents in front of professional investors and the Babson community.
- Seven MBA and undergraduate businesses will be using hatchery space in Olin and Coleman Halls during the summer to refine their business models or grow current revenues. Hatchery space provides professional office space and an ecosystem with other entrepreneurs.
- Numerous academic conference groups—both domestic and international—will use Babson facilities throughout the summer, including 450 high school students from the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine.
- 13 different youth athletic camps will operate throughout the summer, totaling approximately 2,000 local children ages 5-15.
A Few Closing Thoughts
The past year has been simply incredible. Any way you look at it—reputation, student engagement, increased interest from around the world, renewal of our curriculum, high profile events, to name just a few areas—this has been a “take-off” year for the College. The momentum will continue throughout the summer, and next fall will bring even more opportunities for us to do big things together.
Have a terrific summer. As always, please feel free at any time to email me your questions, comments, or suggestions.