Passion and pride could have served as the unofficial theme at the Raymond A. Mason School's historic gathering June 2-3 when over 600 people returned to campus to celebrate the 50th anniversary of William & Mary's MBA program.
The largest alumni gathering in the business school's history, attendees from eight countries and 40 states came together to reconnect with the people and place they hold dear.
"Having received my degree in 1959, I am able to look back and reflect on how a William & Mary education provided me with the knowledge, skills, confidence, sophistication and language necessary to succeed," said Business School Foundation Board Vice Chairman and school namesake Raymond A. "Chip" Mason as he welcomed alumni and friends to Saturday night's dinner celebration. "William & Mary also provided me with a remarkable network of fellow alumni with whom I have shared a profoundly rewarding life."
Saturday evening's event took place under a soaring, lantern-lit tent in the Sunken Garden, where attendees reconnected and shared stories about their MBA experiences. It was the culmination of a busy two-day schedule which included a Friday night cocktail party in Alan B. Miller Hall and a selection of educational presentations and engaging discussions on topics ranging from navigating digital transformation to strategies for tackling wicked problems. Two of the topics, the complexities of managing large diverse organizations, and, of course, the importance of creating a culture of Principled Achievement, were faculty led discussions presented by panels of truly remarkable MBA alumni.
"William & Mary MBA students are connected by a shared passion for personal growth, a commitment to learning, and the need to be part of something bigger than themselves," said Mason as part of his remarks, following a brief video of the business school's history. He also recounted how the MBA programs have changed over the years.
"Over 30 percent of each MBA class is comprised of former and active duty military. Women also now comprise more than 35 percent of every MBA class - 50 years ago there were none. Our international students bring cultural insights into our classrooms which continue to enhance the global educational experience for everyone."
During dinner, another video presentation highlighted current students and the impact a William & Mary education has had on their lives.
Chairman of the Business School Foundation Board, Paul Saville '77, announced that more than $10 million had been raised in honor of the 50th anniversary, including incredible gifts to support MBA scholarships from Bruce MBA '77 and Beth Fisher and an anonymous donor from the MBA Class of 1982. Saville also announced a historic gift from Foundation Board member Ed Tokar MBA '71 which will be recognized by naming the graduate wing of the Alan B. Miller Hall in Tokar's honor.
A third video highlighting alumni reflections on the impact of their MBA experience preceded the evening's final speaker, Dean Larry Pulley '74.
"We now have over 6,750 MBA alumni living lives of principled achievement and making a difference for good in the world," said Pulley. "It has been a grand 50-year run thus far, and we are poised for even greater achievement in the future. We have become nimble, entrepreneurial, and creative among business schools -and a catalyst for innovation."
Pulley continued by thanking alumni for their tremendous commitment and support, "Thank you for coming back - and for being who you are - and being ours. You are the source of our pride in our past-and the reason for our grand hope for the future. I hope you know that wherever life takes you and whatever comes your way, you will always, always, always, be welcome here. I am, and have long been struck as much by the caliber and character of who you are as by the separately stellar things you have accomplished."
To cap an already remarkable evening, attendees were treated to music by the United States Army Band Brass Quintet, and a brilliant firework display over the Sunken Garden and Crim Dell.