More than 1,400 alumni came for events that began on Thursday, May 10, with a keynote address from Ruth Porat, WG’87, Vice Chairman, Investment Banking, Morgan Stanley, and ended on Sunday, May 13, with an All-Alumni Brunch and the traditional alumni processional during graduation to welcome new degree-holders to the alumni fold.
In between, Wharton got down to business with professional education workshops led by Wharton professors Michael Useem, David Reibstein, Richard Shell, Peter Cappelli, and Howard Kunreuther.“Faculty like to get in front of a crowd that doesn’t raise their hands to ask, ‘Is this going to be on the test?’” joked departing Dean Patrick T. Harker at a Wharton Town Hall meeting in the Dhirubhai Ambani Auditorium. On a more serious note, he pressed alumni to redouble their own involvement during the transition to new leadership.
The first-ever Celebration of Women’s Leadership, “Women at the Forefront,” hosted by leadership expert Roslyn Courtney, WG’76, attracted top executives to Wharton for a panel discussion and breakout sessions. “When you get to a certain level, whether you’re male or female, you’re all elbowing for the same next job. I have a leadership style that works for me,” said Deborah Fretz, who, as President and CEO of Sunoco Logistics Partners, is a rare female chief executive in the oil business. Fretz, a proud Penn parent of two alumnae, continued, “People often confuses leadership and management. A manager works through the system. A leader works on the system and tries to change it for the better.”
Of course, alumni mixed plenty of pleasure in with the business. On Friday evening, alumni convened at the MBA pub for the Class of 2002, a Class of 1997 mixer on the eighth floor of Jon M. Huntsman Hall, and the All-Alumni Reunion Class Mixer at the World CaféLive, the three-year-old Penn music venue that has become one of the most memorable parts of Reunion weekend. Also, in celebration of its 15-year anniversary, the Joseph Wharton Scholars (the undergraduate research honors program) invited all its alumni to West Philadelphia’s Zocalo restaurant.
The seasonable weekend ran the gamut of spring weather from sunshine to Saturday-evening showers that held off long enough for Reunion attendees and their families to enjoy a schedule of activities that offered something for everyone. Cultural and family events on Friday and Saturday included a family picnic on Lehman Brothers Quad, an art-gallery hop, a National Constitution Center tour, a kids’ tent, an alumni run/walk, and a trip to Dave and Buster’s amusements on the Delaware riverfront.
Later on, Philadelphia played host to an Emeritus Society lunch for all alumni from the classes of 1957 and earlier. An MBA Exec (WEMBA) Reunion Dinner welcomed all Reunion classes at the Ritz-Carlton, while MBA Reunion classes took over the city high and low, with dinners at locations from the Pyramid Club, which overlooks Philadelphia from the top of 1735 Market Street, to the ballrooms of the Westin Hotel. Next year’s Reunion promises a lively mix of professional programming, networking opportunities, and social engagement. Mark your calendars for May 16-18, 2008.