On Sunday, May 14, the students lined up outside of Franklin Field were ready to celebrate. As members of the Class of 2006, their graduation from Wharton was doubly significant, coinciding with the school’s 125th anniversary. “It’s so exciting for us because we feel like we are a part of history,” said Marian Lee, W’06, a marketing and communications student from Los Angeles.

For many, it was the crowning moment of a year filled with celebrations. “For months we have been talking about the anniversary. Right now it feels pretty good to be here and honor a longstanding tradition. We really have the sense that we are part of something larger,” said Colin McDonald, W’06, a marketing student who hails from Harrisburg, PA. At the undergraduate commencement ceremony, Dean Patrick Harker spoke about Joseph Wharton’s vision of creating leaders when he established the nation’s first business school. Later, Vice Dean Barbara Kahn spoke to the class about ethical responsibility and the importance of having a broader definition of success. Her remarks were followed by an address from student speaker Beth Mlyanarczyk, W’06, the announcement of awards, and the student roll call. Hours later, it was a similar scene as hundreds of graduating MBAs took their positions in their cohort groups outside the stadium. Reflecting on the significance of the anniversary date, the newly minted graduates expressed pride and gratitude. “It’s an honor to be graduating during a landmark year,” said Sylvia Insogna, WG’06, a finance major from Allentown, PA. “You feel the sense of tradition in everything from the alumni to the faculty to the school itself, and you can’t help but feel lucky to be a part of it.”

“We are proud of the institution and the student body,” said Anne Torrel Izrael, WG’06, a finance and strategic management major. Her husband, Vincent Izrael, winner of the Joseph P. Wharton award for Leadership and Innovation, agreed: “After two years of hard work, it’s nice to feel that tradition behind us.” The MBA ceremony included rousing remarks from WGA President Serhan Secman, WG’06, and Dean Harker. In his keynote address, Leonard Lauder, W’54, chairman of Estée Lauder Companies Inc., talked about his own intersection with Wharton history, the school’s impact on his career and his inspiration to co-found the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies with his brother Ronald S. Lauder, W’65, in 1983, anticipating the needs of a global economy in the coming decades. Both men were honored as recipients of the Dean’s Medal. The consensus among graduates was that it was precisely this sort of insight that has allowed Wharton to remain at the forefront of business education. Jean Reynolds, WG’06, a New Yorker who completed an individualized major in private equity, credited the school’s success to its powerful alumni network, top faculty, and academic rigor. “Wharton has a reputation for excellence and that’s why it continues to thrive today.”

Photos by Tommy Leonardi