Babson’s Graduate Class of 2012
Babson’s Undergraduate Class of 2012
May 24, 2012
Dear Members of the Babson Community:
I always regard Commencement as an extraordinary day, and May 19 delivered the excitement and community spirit that make the occasion so memorable. Our undergraduate and graduate members of the Class of 2012 have already done much to create economic and social value—in their projects, businesses, field work, service activities at home and overseas, and more. Commencement is a clear reminder that there are simply no students quite like Babson students.
Commencement is a One-of-a-Kind Experience
On May 19, a picture-perfect New England spring day, 481 undergraduates and 489 graduate students participated in their graduation ceremonies. Maria Eitel, President and CEO of the Nike Foundation, received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the undergraduate ceremony, and Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws during the graduate school ceremony in the afternoon. The honorees spoke at both ceremonies.
Both Commencement speakers are translating their passions into action. Reid Hoffman, who has provided hundreds of millions of people with a tool to network through LinkedIn, offered his perspective on the critical importance of entrepreneurship and why the talents, skills, and mindsets of entrepreneurs are necessary now more than over. The video and transcript of his speech are available at the Remarks by Reid Hoffman page. Maria Eitel, who has transformed her deep interest in the well-being of girls into a set of action agendas, encouraged our students to be bold and wildly ambitious in order to bring about real change in the world. You can watch her speech or read the transcript on the Remarks by Maria Eitel page.
My message during the Commencement exercises was straightforward: to succeed in today’s uncertain and unpredictable world, members of Babson’s undergraduate and graduate Class of 2012 have learned to think and act like entrepreneurs. As students, they were empowered to move outside their comfort zones, to do something different, to enroll others in their ideas, to take a step and, when the path is not straight and clear, to pivot. With rapid change as the norm, they will find that learning how to pivot will be of value for the rest of their lives.
Babson Provides an Extraordinary Return on Investment (ROI)
Our newly-minted alumni will also find that their Babson degrees were a great investment. Babson’s undergraduate program was ranked #11 again this spring among colleges and universities in the Bloomberg Businessweek/PayScale survey 2012 ROI Rankings: College Education Value Compared. Babson found itself in great company as the only business college among the top 11 schools; the others are either major universities or engineering schools. The top ranked colleges are Harvey Mudd, Cal Tech, MIT, Stanford, Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth, Duke, Penn, Notre Dame, and Babson.
The numbers tell an impressive story, with Babson graduates enjoying a 30-year net ROI of $1,173,000. Our graduation rate of 91% contributes to our high ROI. All in all, the ranking provides strong evidence of the long-term value of what we do—preparing our graduates for success in their careers and lives.
The latest graduate school salary rankings are from Bloomberg Businessweek last summer when Babson MBA alumni placed #27 in the ranking of highest-paid MBA alumni. In the Boston area, only graduates of Harvard Business School and MIT’s Sloan School have higher lifetime compensation.
In this economic environment, there is, understandably, rising concern about the opportunity costs and financial return of higher education. We are committed to ensuring that our students are able to demonstrate a solid ROI in the job market at graduation and beyond. In fact, the value of a Babson degree has never been greater.
Lemonade Day: It’s Never Too Early to Become an Entrepreneur
For the second consecutive year, Mayor Menino and the City of Boston partnered with Babson to bring the national Lemonade Day program to our region. Lemonade Day teaches business basics, teamwork, and entrepreneurial skills to elementary and middle schools students as they learn how to successfully run a small business—lemonade stands. On May 5, 1,500 students—double last year’s number—operated lemonade stands in neighborhoods throughout Greater Boston.
Lemonade Day Boston at Park Street Station
The day was filled with teachable moments. Young people operating a stand at the intersection of Park and Tremont on the Boston Common learned their first major lesson in entrepreneurship when a Department of Public Works van pulled up, ready to paint the Freedom Trail line immediately in front of their stand. The students relocated to the entrance at the Park Street T station and found a treasure trove in thirsty T riders emerging from the subway. Every entrepreneur has to learn to pivot, and this pivot really paid off.
Eighty-five Babson faculty, staff, alumni, students, and parents were on hand to provide support. Matt Chatham, Babson MBA alum, former Patriots player and Superbowl champ and founder of SkyCrepers, was one of our alumni who came out to visit stands—giving pep talks, encouraging lemonade sampling by passersby, and working with the students to attract more business.
Pre-Lemonade Day activity ratcheted up interest. An important resource was Babson entrepreneur-in-residence and ABC’s Shark Tank host Daymond John, whose public service announcements aired frequently on the local ABC affiliate, reinforced by a big social media push. In addition, David Hennessey, Professor of Marketing and International Business, Laura Bucci, Assistant Director of the Alumni & Friends Network ’09 M’13, and Sam Perkins, Case Writer and Research Associate at Babson Executive Education M’93, taught the Lemonade Day curriculum this spring as part of a Citizen Schools program with the Boston Public Schools; the women’s field hockey and lacrosse teams volunteered to help enroll Boston children at locations ranging from the BCYF Girls Summit to the Boston Children’s Museum; and six MBA students, as part of a leadership course with Bob Bonnevie, Adjunct Lecturer in Management, worked with young students in mid-April to prepare them for Lemonade Day.
What’s underway for next year? A Management Consulting Field Experience (MCFE) team in the spring assessed Lemonade Day Boston and Lemonade Day organizers will be acting on its recommendations as well as on feedback from this year’s event as they move forward with planning for 2013.
Rethink Music: Entrepreneurship of All Kinds™
Nothing better demonstrates that Babson is “walking the talk” and fueling Entrepreneurship of All Kinds than our support for entrepreneurial activities across all sectors. In April we taught the entrepreneurial mindset and method of Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® (ET&A) to executives and performers in the music industry as part of a two-day conference, Rethink Music, presented by Berklee College of Music in partnership with Babson and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Why is the music industry so ripe for ET&A? Technology-enabled access to music has disrupted the classic model for recorded music production and distribution.
A number of faculty members—Toni Lester, Professor of Law; Sal Parise, Associate Professor of Information Systems; Erik Noyes, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship; and Caroline Daniels, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship—were involved in panels, workshops, and/or working with Babson alums Rick Drumm and Joe Spinelli on the Genesis Project, a business competition. Janet Strimaitis, Managing Director of the Blank Center, joined me in teaching ET&A and showing participants how the “smart tools” of entrepreneurs can be used effectively in their industry.
As an example of a valuable outcome of our sponsorship, Erik Noyes secured video interviews with a dozen executives, artists, and entrepreneurs on innovation and entrepreneurship in the music industry. Erik is working with two undergraduate students to produce an “arts meets entrepreneurship” documentary that captures the experience of entrepreneurship in different contexts and will be used as a video-based classroom resource for framing entrepreneurship. As he sees it, this could be particularly useful as a teaching tool in Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME). Another important outcome, of course, is more positive exposure in the marketplace, reinforcing that entrepreneurship is our brand and that every industry can benefit from it.
The Busiest Summer Ever on Campus
Better utilization of our campus during the summer adds up to a significant change in the financial model of the College and provides greater flexibility for our students. Instead of devoting all of our energy to two fourteen-week semesters in the undergraduate program, we are now operating our undergraduate program 42 weeks of the year. For the MBA program, we are continuing to increase the engagement of graduate students through our Two-Year, One-Year, Fast Track and Evening platforms with offerings throughout the year. Greater utilization of the campus during the summer for these courses and other offerings not only has major implications for College finances, it also builds our brand by introducing new constituencies to Babson.
Here are some highlights of what’s happening on campus this summer: In addition to offering more summer courses for undergraduate and graduate students (with greater overall enrollment) and the Babson experience for our Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) students, we will operate the Summer Venture Program for teams of Babson undergraduate and graduate students, host the Price-Babson Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators and the Global Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education (GCEE) Summit, deliver courses through Babson Executive and Enterprise Education (BEEE), launch a new program for Chinese business managers on entrepreneurial practices, host the Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators (SEE), provide summer study programs for outstanding high school students, partner with LeadAmerica on a Business and Leadership conference for high school students, use Babson facilities for academic conferences and youth athletic camps, and more.
We also have added an entirely new program to the mix of offerings for our undergraduate students. This year the Babson College Global Leadership Development Experience will bring together a select few Babson juniors and seniors and 20 college students from around the world who are passionate about social entrepreneurship. They will spend next month working to create innovative, real-world solutions on issues ranging from health care to environmental sustainability to human rights as part of consulting projects with eight Boston-area companies. Our goal in launching this program is to create a global network of students—staying connected to one another—who will use their business education to address issues that are integral to global development.
BEEE also is delivering new programs this summer that take an ET&A approach. As a case in point, Principles and Practices for Teaching Executive Education will provide faculty at schools from the U.S. and around the world with the core tools and competencies for teaching executive education. The program is built on over thirty years of Babson’s experience in executive education for developing business leaders and our deep roots in training educators through our SEE programs.
A Few Closing Thoughts
Last October when I delivered my State of the College message, I emphasized that with the higher education environment changing so rapidly, Babson is operating from a position of strength. We are making great progress in meeting our strategic goals: We want to be known as THE educator for Entrepreneurship of all Kinds; we want to extend our capabilities to the world; and we want to ensure a fully sustainable financial model for the College.
During the academic year ahead, we will continue to ask the critical questions: “How good do we want to be and how fast do we want to get there?” How we respond to these questions as we address the new opportunities and challenges ahead of us will be the focus of an exciting conversation in our community throughout the coming year.
All the best,
Leonard A. Schlesinger