I’m pleased to report that Owen—as many of you already know—placed 25th in the latest MBA rankings published by U.S. News & World Report this past March. That showing marks our second-highest ranking in the history of this important survey and reflects the hard work and dedication of many in the Owen community. Together we have built great momentum for the school that I believe will soon put us in the top 20.
Whether you tend to agree with rankings or not, they are an important driver of applications, our hiring ability, and frankly, alumni engagement. That said, they’re far from perfect.
Beyond the well-documented cases of schools in various disciplines gaming the system—or in some cases, simply providing false data—rankings will never be able to tell the full story of a school. As I’ve discovered, GMATs and GPAs tell you very little about the individuals who ultimately emerge as strong, ethical leaders.
As a business school dean, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the rankings race. While I fully intend to continue to compete vigorously, as we move forward you should know this: 1) The greater good of Owen will always come before rankings; and 2) No matter how high we climb, there will never be a quantitative measure that can capture leadership, determination and a commitment to purposes beyond ourselves—all qualities that, to me, mark Owen students and alumni.
In that spirit, allow me to highlight several pieces in this issue of Vanderbilt Business, starting with the cover story about Brent Turner, MBA’99. As you’ll see, Brent is often humorously self-effacing. But working alongside him, one soon discovers that he’s a masterful relationship builder, putting the right people and the smart strategies in place to get a job done. He’s also a doer who is unafraid to set lofty goals and then follow through on them with great dignity and determination. We’re lucky to have him as such an active alumnus and productive partner.
Elsewhere in the magazine, Alex Nicholson, EMBA’01, tells the story of how and why he decided to pursue a business degree in his 50s after years spent running his family’s business. And Linus Hall, EMBA’00, will make you thirsty for more after reading about his experience starting and growing Yazoo Brewing Co.
There’s also a report on innovative work happening at Owen, including the groundbreaking new rule for measuring and capturing customer loyalty created by Professor Bruce Cooil and alumnus Tim Keiningham, MBA’89. In addition, you’ll read about an exciting new Silicon Valley endeavor that’s being started by two soon-to-be Owen grads, Mahni Ghorashi and Ilya Tokhner.
These stories help showcase the incredible vibrancy of the entire Owen community, from current students to our world-class faculty and administration to our invaluable alumni. For me, this is the soul of Owen—something no ranking could ever measure.
James W. Bradford
Dean, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management
Ralph Owen Professor of Management