01 Dec 1999
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From the Editors

by Deborah Blagg

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There is an inescapable sense of history in the Bulletin's Sherman Hall offices, where three eight-foot-long bookshelves sag under the weight of 75 years of musty, leather-bound volumes of the magazine. But as often as our editors have returned to those volumes to check a date or verify a spelling, it wasn't until this fall, when we began a somewhat systematic review of the magazine's past, that we came to realize the extent to which the Bulletin has served as a chronicle of the School's life and times.

Our research for this special anniversary issue has brought to light an extraordinary range of ideas and voices assembled by a succession of talented editors. From ardent speeches on leadership by the School's founders, to impassioned editorials about the causes of the Great Depression, to insightful commentary on the dawn of the computer age in business, the Bulletin's past stewards have created an enduring record of the School's intellectual engagement in historic events. In their regular reports on social gatherings, curriculum developments, building dedications, and retirements, they have also helped to foster a sense of community among the School's far-flung constituencies.

While it is impossible to do justice to the work of the magazine's previous editors in a few pages, we offer below some highlights from each editor's tenure. In addition, we are delighted to be able to include reminiscences from four past editors: Professor Emeritus Pearson Hunt (MBA '33), Daniel H. Fenn, Jr., Edward L. Anthony (MBA '52), and Jeffrey L. Cruikshank (51st PMD).

Volume I, number 1 of the Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin appeared on January 3, 1925, after a three-year trial as a special section of the Harvard Alumni Bulletin. The tentative plan for the publication called for a magazine that would be mailed to members of the Alumni Association nine times a year and would include material on developments at HBS, discussions of "actual problems used for written reports in the School," summaries of cases from the Bureau of Business Research, book reviews, club news, and "the personal items that have been a popular feature of the regular section in the Harvard Alumni Bulletin." The first few issues of the magazine were overseen by an editorial board.

By 1926, when George E. Bates (MBA '25) was appointed as the magazine's first editor, the editorial board, citing "considerable difficulty" in getting the magazine out on time, had cut the publication schedule to six times a year and set a subscription price of 75¢ a year, which was included in the $2 annual Alumni Association dues. Bates, who subsequently enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a faculty member, presided over the magazine while the School's first buildings took shape under Dean Wallace B. Donham's ambitious leadership.

Bates captured the pageantry of the June 4, 1927, campus dedication in the July issue, complete with photographs and speeches by Dean Donham, Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell, and the School's famous benefactor, George F. Baker. "I hope and believe that this school is to be the standard for all others," stated Baker, "but it must be remembered always that the standards of excellence must be maintained, not simply on the outside of the buildings, but in the work and training on the inside."

Not all the early issues were focused on bricks and mortar. Along with reports on club events and the developing curriculum, there were articles of a more personal nature, such as this notice of a notable professor's vacation itinerary for the summer of 1929:

"[He] expects to sail for Europe on June 1, S.S. Ile de France, French Line, Pier 57, New York City, at five minutes after midnight (cabin unknown, exact location to be kept secret anyway). Ladies only are invited to see him off."
"[He] expects to sail for Europe on June 1, S.S. Ile de France, French Line, Pier 57, New York City, at five minutes after midnight (cabin unknown, exact location to be kept secret anyway). Ladies only are invited to see him off."

The practice of featuring both social news and substantive information continued through the editorships of Edmond F. Wright (MBA '26), who took over briefly when Bates left in 1928, and former newspaper correspondent John Hunter Sedgwick (MBA '22), who began his ten-year assignment in 1929. In the first of his trademark editorials on world events, Sedgwick commented on the recent stock market crash:

"What has just taken place was the final convulsive twitch in a series of transactions by corporations and the public that can be qualified only as speculation. Men talk of squeezing the water out of securities but seem never to conceive of getting rid of the wind in their own prosperity rhetoric."
"What has just taken place was the final convulsive twitch in a series of transactions by corporations and the public that can be qualified only as speculation. Men talk of squeezing the water out of securities but seem never to conceive of getting rid of the wind in their own prosperity rhetoric."

Bulletin highlights during Sedgwick's editorship included his moving eulogy of George F. Baker, whom he called an "old-fashioned man" who "could find time in all the cares of a business that at times was vast in its proportions to think of individuals and their needs." Coverage of Harvard University's 300th anniversary came under Sedgwick's watch, as did reports on the expansion of Baker Library's collection, the continuing development of the case method, and, farther afield, the gathering of war clouds over Europe.

Early in 1940, new Bulletin editor Boyce F. Martin (MBA '30) announced the expansion of the Alumni Notes section in response to popular demand and voiced the hope that "no alumnus will be so overwhelmed with modesty that he will fail to send in items of interest about himself." Further changes were announced in 1941 when Assistant Dean Luther G. Holbrook (MBA '36) signed on as editor, and - in his role as Alumni Association president - McKinsey & Company's Marvin Bower (MBA '30) reported on the effort to "streamline Bulletin make-up and typography." Content of the quarterly magazine was dominated by the School's involvement in wartime training courses, essays on the role of business in the national defense effort, citations of alumni bravery in battle, letters from alumni POWs, and a sobering stream of casualty reports.

Pearson Hunt's first issue as editor corresponded with the end of Wallace Donham's long tenure as Dean in the summer of 1942 and the appointment of his successor, Donald K. David. One of Dean David's first challenges, outlined in detail in the Bulletin, was the overcrowded campus. With four Army and Navy training programs at Soldiers Field in addition to the MBA Program, more than thirteen hundred students were living in dormitories originally designed to house fewer than nine hundred.

In 1943, the School decided to send the Bulletin to all alumni - even those who weren't paying their alumni dues. To cut paper costs and attract more advertising, Hunt increased the trim size of the magazine. Over the next few years the Bulletin's content reflected Dean David's emphasis on research to prepare managers for the transition to a postwar economy. In 1945, Kidder, Peabody & Company titan Albert H. Gordon (MBA '25) contributed a prescient essay on the economic impact of peace. Gordon predicted "a major reorientation of economic life throughout the world, which will be brought about through the elimination of enemy nations as political and economic powers, and through the emergence and development of other nations. There will be many major changes in the flow of trade and of capital investment." (Please see Pearson Hunt's essay by clicking here.)

When Donald M. Wright became editor in 1947, he had just taken over as the School's director of alumni relations. Wright introduced more cartoons and drawings into the magazine and more student articles as the MBA Program grew. A new cover design premiered under Wright, who often showed a flare for humor, as in this 1948 column:

"Ever since your alumni director discovered that he had inherited an editorship along with his other problems, the Bulletin Policy Committee has been advising him to make a regular feature of two or three pages of interesting stuff about the School and the alumni [that has] the tone and spirit of 'The Talk of the Town' in the New Yorker magazine. The only trouble with that is that your present editor cannot write as well as the New Yorker editor. If he could he would probably be using his talent to better advantage than he is at present."
"Ever since your alumni director discovered that he had inherited an editorship along with his other problems, the Bulletin Policy Committee has been advising him to make a regular feature of two or three pages of interesting stuff about the School and the alumni [that has] the tone and spirit of 'The Talk of the Town' in the New Yorker magazine. The only trouble with that is that your present editor cannot write as well as the New Yorker editor. If he could he would probably be using his talent to better advantage than he is at present."

Wright continued as chairman of the magazine's policy committee through the mid-1950s, but Dan Fenn assumed the title of editor in 1955, around the time Dean David retired and was replaced by Dean Stanley F. Teele. Fenn's style favored bold headlines, dramatic photography, and lively alumni profiles. He was not afraid to tackle controversial topics. An article titled "Why Businessmen Should Vote Democratic," by New York City mayor Robert F. Wagner (MBA '36), elicited a torrent of dissenting letters in 1956 and was followed with a similar article from the Republican point of view. Fenn also increased the number of internationally focused articles and pieces on tough subjects, such as executive burnout. In answer to alumni who thought the magazine was becoming "too intellectual," Fenn responded:

"The significant information about you is what you are thinking and what you are doing professionally - not that you were in Miami lately where you hoisted a few with old Joe."
"The significant information about you is what you are thinking and what you are doing professionally - not that you were in Miami lately where you hoisted a few with old Joe."

(Please see Dan Fenn's essay by clicking here.)

In 1961 Fenn left the magazine to become a staff assistant in the Kennedy White House. He was succeeded by Bill Falcon for a few issues before Ted Anthony assumed the job in 1962. Anthony, who had publishing experience in the military and at the Small Business Administration in Washington, kept the Bulletin on a steady course for nearly twenty years, as the School's focus and programs evolved under Deans George P. Baker and Lawrence E. Fouraker. Anthony and Managing Editor Elinor Perry presided over a tremendous growth in Bulletin class notes, as the class secretary network flourished in the late 1960s. His detailed reports on faculty research, campus construction, and the School's growing international reach were regular features, along with articles by faculty members and administrators discussing the School's changing priorities.

Anthony's genteel editorial style and his devotion to HBS is apparent in this excerpt from coverage of Professor Georges F. Doriot's 80th birthday gala in 1979:

"The ambiance of the occasion was much like the friendly warmth of a close-knit family gathering. Many of those in attendance knew one another as well as knowing the General. Professor Doriot himself - lean, straight, and well-tailored as ever - was besieged by platoons of former students reaching out to congratulate him on his fourscore years and to wish him many more."
"The ambiance of the occasion was much like the friendly warmth of a close-knit family gathering. Many of those in attendance knew one another as well as knowing the General. Professor Doriot himself - lean, straight, and well-tailored as ever - was besieged by platoons of former students reaching out to congratulate him on his fourscore years and to wish him many more."

(Please see Ted Anthony's essay by clicking here.)

Jeff Cruikshank succeeded Anthony in 1981, and his own narrative (click here) provides an eloquent summary of the magazine during his tenure. Under a succession of dedicated editors, the Bulletin has helped to create an extended community at HBS, linking generations of alumni to each other and to the people, ideas, and events that define Harvard Business School. Much has changed at the magazine in the past 75 years, but as the Bulletin rolls into the next century in a flurry of e-mails, faxes, and digital scans, its purpose is remarkably unchanged.

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