01 Dec 2007


Editor's Note

by Roger Thompson

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Worth the Wait
HBS plans a memorable Centennial year

The first centennial I remember happened in my North Carolina hometown in the late 1950s. The men grew beards, wore funny hats, and puffed on awful-smelling cigars. The town held a parade and put on a grand fireworks display. I knew it was supposed to be a big deal, but as a child, I really didn’t understand why.

The upcoming HBS Centennial is different. This time I’m not just a wide-eyed bystander but a participant. Here at the Bulletin, the editorial staff and I have planned a year’s worth of issues, beginning with the one in hand, that will mirror the School’s multifaceted celebration as it unfolds over the months ahead.

No need for beards and stogies. In fact, the first graduating class of MBAs in 1910 looked rather clean-cut (see photo). But there will be a parade of sorts within the pages of the Bulletin, a cavalcade of ideas, old and new, that have put the School on the intellectual map. Some of the articles will look back on outstanding accomplishments of distinguished faculty. Others, based on a series of faculty colloquia, will take measure of the School’s current impact on the business world, at home and abroad, and look ahead to things to come. Our Centennial coverage will culminate with a report on the Global Business Summit slated for October 2008, by any measure the biggest gathering of HBS alumni and friends ever undertaken. The summit will summarize findings from the faculty colloquia and set a course for future research and discovery.

To kick off the Bulletin’s Centennial editorial year, we put the event right out front where no one would miss it — on the cover. Inside, in an open letter to the HBS community, Dean Jay Light addresses the significance of the occasion and talks about how alumni can get involved both on and off campus.

What would a centennial be without nostalgia? And who better to provide it than Baker Library? Drawing on the School’s trove of archival photos and documents, the Historical Collections staff will mount four Centennial exhibitions, the first of which commemorates the groundbreaking Hawthorne Studies in the 1920s and 1930s. We capture the spirit of that exhibition in a two-page spread of photos and text — something we’ll do for all the Centennial exhibitions. Tapping into a different kind of nostalgia, editors Garry Emmons and Julia Hanna interviewed four emeriti professors to glean reminiscences and insights based on their many years of service.

Not directly related to the Centennial, but timely nonetheless, is a new book on the history of American business schools by Associate Professor Rakesh Khurana. It candidly asks: Is management a profession? His answer may surprise you. The excerpts we present provide a sampling of his key findings. No doubt they will help set the agenda for the faculty colloquia on business education scheduled for next spring.

Consider this issue just the start of the Bulletin’s parade of ideas as we set out to chronicle the School’s Centennial. It’s one parade you won’t want to miss.

— Roger Thompson

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