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Community Messages

A selection of messages to the Babson community.

Dear Babson Community,

Commencement represents the culmination of years of hard work, recognizing both accomplishment and preparedness for new challenges. The pomp and circumstance of the day underscores how important an experience Commencement is for our graduates, their families and friends, and all who have supported them from Babson. Such an extraordinary milestone demands the participation of extraordinary entrepreneurial leaders.

I am pleased to share that Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98 will serve as this year’s undergraduate Commencement speaker. And for the first time in Babson’s history, we will have a joint graduate Commencement address delivered by Eric Johnson ’72, P’08, Chairman of Baldwin Richardson Foods and Babson Trustee, and his daughter, Erin Tolefree, President and CEO of Baldwin Richardson Foods.

Commencement 2024 Speakers

Arthur, Eric, and Erin are exemplary entrepreneurial leaders.

As the co-founder of The Home Depot, Arthur now owns and operates a large and diverse portfolio of businesses, including the nation’s largest golf retailer, PGA Tour Superstore, and the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and MLS’s Atlanta United FC. Arthur Blank’s professional and philanthropic endeavors have been substantial since graduating from Babson, and he has been distinguished by Forbes as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Living Business Minds. One of the College’s greatest supporters, Arthur has had a revolutionary impact on entrepreneurship education in our community.

His generosity and belief in the power of a values-driven entrepreneurial mindset helped launch The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this fall. The Blank Center has been a critical resource for Babson students. Since its inception, it has provided emerging entrepreneurs with access to vital resources and an evolving network while promoting entrepreneurial thought leadership around the world. I valued my time as the director of the Blank Center and have long admired Arthur and his commitment to Babson.

Fittingly, this year marks the graduation of the inaugural cohort of the Arthur M. Blank Leadership Scholars, a program supported by Arthur’s transformative $50 million gift to establish The Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership—the home of Babson’s six world-class centers and institutes. It will be an honor to hear him address our graduates this year as they begin their next chapters.

Eric Johnson ’72, P’08 and Erin Tolefree will make history as Babson’s first joint Commencement speakers. Eric and the Johnson family have left indelible marks on the Babson community. Eric is the Chairman of Baldwin Richardson Foods Company, a company he founded and the leading manufacturer of custom food and beverage ingredients and one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the food industry.

Eric, a current Babson Trustee, has long been a passionate Babson supporter and believer in the power of entrepreneurship. As a student, he founded Babson’s Black Student Union (BSU). Today, the BSU’s living space, the Johnson House, is aptly named in his honor. Eric and his family company’s generosity has established such vital campus resources as the Baldwin Richardson Foods Term Chair, the Johnson Family Term Chair, and the Baldwin Richardson Foods Scholars Programs.

Erin has spent much of her professional career at Baldwin Richardson Foods, continuing her family’s multi-generational commitment to family entrepreneurship. She first joined the company as a National Accounts Manager after graduating from college before advancing through roles including Vice President of Sales and Executive Vice President. Throughout her career, she has masterfully navigated her family’s company through growth and production expansion.

Her management skills and “people first” leadership approach served Baldwin Richardson Foods well during the COVID-19 pandemic, when she successfully guided the company through substantial challenges in supply chain demand while prioritizing the health and safety of employees. She assumed the role of President during the first year of the pandemic and was named CEO in 2023, continuing her family’s legacy of leading with impact. Erin serves on multiple boards and is a graduate of Spelman College.

In addition to our graduate Commencement speakers, Babson will bestow two additional honorary degrees during our undergraduate ceremony:

Kerry Murphy Healey, Babson’s 13th president and former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. During her presidency, Kerry led efforts to increase Babson’s international profile, championed women entrepreneurs, and oversaw a substantial $200 million renewal of our Wellesley campus. It will be an honor to welcome Kerry back to campus.

Harry Susilo P’96, G’24 ’26, founder and chairman of the Sekar Group, also will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Harry founded the Sekar Group, an Indonesian-based international conglomerate focusing on food production, property, and mining, in 1966. The company began as a small fishing operation in rural East Java and today employs approximately 20,000 people and exports products worldwide. I look forward to welcoming Harry to campus, though he is no stranger to Babson as the parent of an alumna, grandparent of members of the Class of 2024 and 2026, and a member of the Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs®.

Commencement is the ultimate celebration of a successful academic career. I look forward to congratulating our graduates as they cross the stage on May 11 and to hearing the wisdom that Arthur, Eric, and Erin will share with our community.

My best,


Dear Babson Community,

The beginning of a new semester brings with it a fresh start, a new opportunity to take stock of where we are on our entrepreneurial leadership journeys. Our momentum is historic. We accomplished a great deal together last semester. Each moment of success, challenge met, and new idea brought to life was a continued reminder of why I am proud of this special community. Thank you for contributing to a remarkable fall semester.

I reflected over the winter break on our success and what this new semester might hold for Babson. While some institutions of higher education have faced declining enrollment numbers, broad questioning of the value of their degrees, and donors reassessing philanthropic support, Babson has thrived. We’ve countered these national trends across the board.

As entrepreneurial leaders, we know that in the wake of success we must ask ourselves, “what’s next?” Entrepreneurs are perpetually aspirational. I challenge you to consider what your next big step will be this semester. No matter your role on our campus, know that you are a part of a community that is ready to support you in all your personal, professional, and academic endeavors.

All of us—students, faculty, staff, and administration—have the entrepreneurial spirit. Remember that as we collectively and individually look ahead and ask ourselves, “what’s next?”

My best,


Dear Babson Community,

Each year, this day provides us with the opportunity to remember and honor the life, legacy, and impact of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s call for justice and equality is an enduring clarion call for fundamental human rights.

Dr. King taught us that the power to change lives is within us. I am reminded of his call to action, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” I believe that this question is central to entrepreneurship. As entrepreneurial leaders, we know that it’s our responsibility to add value to society and to consider how different approaches and perspectives can impact communities around the world.

We see that each day on our campus in the ways that we support one another on our academic and professional journeys. At Babson, we recognize and celebrate the notion that we are stronger because of our diversity of backgrounds, races, cultures, beliefs, and lived experiences. While I’m proud of that progress, I am especially mindful today of the opportunity to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at Babson.

In recognition of Dr. King’s continued influence and legacy, I invite you to gather at our 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Day on February 15, 2024, in Sorenson Center for the Arts. You can sign up for the event using the registration link below.

Register Here

This special event celebrates Dr. King and other Black leaders who continue to advocate for justice, equality, and peace today. This year, we welcome Babson alumnus and former president of the Black Student Union Wes Woodson ’20 as our keynote speaker. Since graduating from Babson, Wes has advanced as a renowned public speaker and mental health advocate. He is the author of the book I Have Anxiety (So What?) and is the founder of Wes Woodson Enterprises, a mental health education company on a mission to elevate the world’s self-esteem. Wes is a prime example of how Babson alumni can use their approach to entrepreneurial leadership to impact lives and create lasting change in society.

I encourage you to take a moment today to consider how you can use the lessons and values of Dr. King to ensure that Babson remains a community that celebrates our differences, respects one another always, and advocates for what is right.

My best,


Dear Babson Community,

I write with a heavy heart to share the sad news of the passing of Babson alumnus and longtime friend of the College Gustavo A. Cisneros ’68 H’19. Since graduating from Babson in 1968, Gustavo and the Cisneros family have been warm, compassionate, and generous members of our community, serving as stellar examples of the power that entrepreneurial leadership and family entrepreneurship can harness on a global stage.

A businessman from Venezuela, Gustavo led his family’s company CISNEROS for 45 years. In that time, he played a crucial role in strengthening the company’s media and telecommunications reach and successfully expanded their operations into real estate ventures while broadening the company’s philanthropic endeavors. Gustavo was the epitome of an entrepreneurial leader who sought to impact communities around the world.

He served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of CISNEROS until his passing, with his daughter Adriana serving as CEO. His dedication to Babson ran deep, and he was frequently engaged with our community—a sign of his commitment to inspiring future generations of entrepreneurs to make a difference in the world. Gustavo and Adriana graciously shared their expertise often, speaking at the Centennial celebration and 2021 Babson Connect Worldwide about their family’s business and special approach to family entrepreneurship.

Gustavo and his wife Patricia Phelps played an integral role in the founding of Fundación Cisneros, a private nonprofit institution committed to improving education in Latin America and increasing international awareness of the region’s contributions in the global cultural arena.

Gustavo’s commitment to Babson was longstanding, and his impact will be felt by generations of students to come. He served on Babson’s Board of Overseers for nearly a decade beginning in 2001 and was awarded the Babson-Camus Global Family Entrepreneurship Award in 2022. This award was well deserved—Gustavo’s family counts among them 12 graduates of the College, including his late cousin and member of the Weissman Circle of Distinction Oswaldo who tragically passed away two years ago. Gustavo and Oswaldo both used their Babson educations to significantly strengthen the economy of their home country of Venezuela. Their legacies in Venezuela—and at Babson—will not soon be forgotten.

I am glad that Babson has long recognized and appreciated the impact that Gustavo had on our community. In recognition of his leadership and service to the College, he was the first Babson graduate to be inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs in 1981. In 2019, we were proud to bestow upon him an honorary degree.

Gustavo and his family have impacted communities around the world by creating social and economic value through their business and associated philanthropic endeavors. This tragic loss will be felt by many beyond our Babson community. Please join me in extending our deepest sympathies to the entire Cisneros family during this difficult time.

With sympathy,


Dear Babson Community,

We are nearing the end of another invigorating semester at Babson. With undergraduate exams underway and graduate courses approaching their conclusion, I wanted to extend my warm wishes to our entire community before we join family and friends for the holidays.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I’m reminded of Babson alumnus Tim Ryan’s (’88) inspiring 2023 commencement address. Tim’s message to the graduating class was to remember that the communities they enter will look to them for love and continuous support.

After a semester full of meaningful interactions, new relationships, and strengthened bonds, I see how Tim’s message comes to life within our own community. Here’s just a glimpse of the ways Babson comes together:

Happy Holidays from Babson College

Supporting one another with love is a core belief of the Babson community. From my family to yours, I wish you a happy and safe holiday season and a healthy new year. I look forward to seeing what we’ll accomplish in the new year.

With love,


Dear Babson Community,

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on this semester as we prepare to go our separate ways and celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with families and friends. It’s been busy on campus, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished so far. The energy across our community has been invigorating and has reminded me what makes Babson special.

Our historic Wall Street Journal top-10 ranking and continued placement atop U.S. News & World Report’s entrepreneurship rankings are evidence of Babson’s leadership position across higher education.

Thought-provoking events enriched our co-curricular experience and brought unique context and perspective on the entrepreneurial process and mindset. The conversation with Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary and Professor Jack McCarthy taught us that embracing failure is a critical component along the path to success. The keynote address during Global Entrepreneurship Week by Life is Good Co-Founder John Jacobs reminded us of the power of approaching challenges with optimism and opportunity. And the deep scholarly engagement of our faculty instills entrepreneurial leadership skills in our students each day.

Major milestone celebrations like the launch of Babson ELevates—the next phase of our campaign following unprecedented success in eclipsing previous goals of $300, $400, and $500 million—brought friends and supporters from around the world to campus to see how their generosity leaves lasting impacts.

While I’m grateful for these moments of celebration, I know that there is so much more to be thankful for that may go unnoticed. I’m particularly thankful for the many ways that we support one another as we learn, teach, and work together.

I’m also aware that current events and conflicts around the world may leave us feeling uncertain during a time that should be filled with rest, rejuvenation, and thanks. I encourage you to continue to support one another during this break and for the remainder of the semester. Togetherness is something that our world so deeply needs.

Know that I am thankful for each member of our special community. I hope that you have a relaxing and fulfilling Thanksgiving break.

My best,


Dear Babson Community,

I’m reminded each year that Veterans Day is a day for gratitude. I know that many in our community have family members and friends who have served. Like you, I’m grateful for their service, commitment, and sacrifice.

My family has experienced that commitment firsthand. My sister served in the Air Force, my father-in-law in the Marines, and my father in the Army. My father spent years in the South Pacific and fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal during the Second World War. I appreciated his service when I was growing up, and I appreciate it even more today.
Veterans have long played a vital role in the life of Babson. Throughout the early 1940s, the College closed and was turned over to the Navy Supply Corps School to provide important spaces and resources to train more than 2,000 reserve officers on campus. After the war, many veterans looked to Babson to begin the next chapters of their lives and pursue fulfilling careers. That cohort brought with them a lifetime of experiences and skillsets that enriched the college experience for our entire community.

I am glad that the spirit of this cohort remains with us to this day, with veterans continuing to contribute to our campus. To all those who have served, I offer a sincere thank you on behalf of the entire Babson community.

My best,


Dear Babson Community,

I’m pleased to share that Babson has once again been named the No. 1 undergraduate school for entrepreneurship by U.S. News & World Report for the 27th consecutive time. This astounding achievement is a testament to our position as the flagship institution in the country for educating entrepreneurial leaders.

We compete in an increasingly competitive market, as others have begun to see the power that entrepreneurship can harness as a catalyst for positive change. The continued growth in entrepreneurship education only validates what we have known from the beginning: The future is fueled by entrepreneurial leaders, and Babson will continue to proudly serve at the forefront in educating, connecting, and mentoring these leaders on their mission to change the world.

This No. 1 ranking adds to our incredible momentum, fueled by the stellar placement by The Wall Street Journal as a top-10 best college in the country. I have heard from numerous members of the Babson community that this ranking truly puts the College in an unprecedented tier, and I could not agree more. This ranking is even more impressive considering the Journal’s shift in how rankings are calculated, taking into consideration student outcomes and focusing on graduation rates and graduate salaries. Our students’ success has played an important role in this accomplishment, and faculty and staff play a crucial part in helping our students achieve at such a high level. This ranking is made possible by your hard work and dedication to Babson’s mission and strategy. Thank you for playing a role in our success.

We’ve long known that we are pioneers in entrepreneurship and business education—a status that’s been reaffirmed by this No. 1 ranking—but today, the world is validating Babson’s place as a leader across our entire industry. While our longstanding positions as No. 1 in entrepreneurship at both the undergraduate and MBA levels are accolades that we proudly embrace, the Journal’s ranking represents a broader affirmation of the role that each member of our community plays in setting Babson apart from our peers.

This is only the beginning. We look forward to accelerating our leadership position. By thinking innovatively and not seeing any challenge as too large, we can ensure that Babson remains a top destination for students and professionals who seek to change the world.

I look forward to the many ways we will build on this momentum and expand our reach and impact. Know that we could not have reached this remarkable milestone without each member of the Babson community.

My best,


Dear Babson Community,

I’m proud to share that Babson was ranked as the 10th best college in the country by The Wall Street Journal. This top-10 ranking is clear validation of Babson’s strength in the market, not just in entrepreneurship and business education, but across all of higher education.

This ranking represents a significant rise in the Journal’s standings, with Babson ranking in previous years just outside of the top 100 colleges in the country. An article accompanying these rankings lauded the measures we take to ensure our students’ success in their careers through our core curriculum and key focus on entrepreneurship. Our unique first-year programming created through Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship played a significant role in our achievement, with a current student noting that the FME experience set Babson apart from other schools she considered.

Importantly, the Journal also recognized Babson for our commitment and achievement related to career preparation, clear proof of the impact of our Center for Career Development and the Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership and its Centers and Institutes. This achievement is recognition of the important and intense curriculum that our world-class faculty deliver. Babson alumni ranked 4th in earnings above a high-school graduate’s annual salary, just behind MIT, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania.

This stellar ranking comes at a time when many colleges and universities are facing steep enrollment challenges and broader questioning of the value of a college degree. It is validating to see that the strategic vision that we created together as a community is yielding clear and definitive results for Babson.

As we well know, the Babson community is perpetually aspirational, never resting on our achievements. Validation of our strength in the market reminds us that we will need to continue to think innovatively and ambitiously. I am grateful for your partnership in these endeavors, and I look forward to continuing to assert our position as leaders in entrepreneurship and business education.

My best,


Dear Babson Community,

It is an exciting time to be at Babson. We’ve been busy this summer planning for the year ahead. While markets and society in general prove to be fraught and dynamic, Babson remains poised to continue our ascension as a positive force.

This community is an empowered one, made special by the many different backgrounds and ideas that coexist on campus. We’re stronger at Babson because of our diversity of experiences, opinions, and beliefs, which bring with them an opportunity to embrace our differences and learn creative approaches. Babson values you and all that you contribute to this community, our community.

Creativity will serve us well in the year ahead. From the classroom to the conference room and the boardroom, we’re continuously thinking of innovative ways to approach tomorrow’s biggest challenges. Embrace the opportunity to have an impact on how we learn and work together throughout the year. Step out of your comfort zone. That is when entrepreneurial leaders work best.

As always, there will be roadblocks along the path to success. Remember to be there for your peers and colleagues along the way. We are most successful when we work alongside one another.

I’m excited for the year ahead, and I hope that you are, too.

My best,