It was a night of reflection and celebration as more than 250 alumni and guests gathered in Alan B. Miller Hall to commemorate the 30th anniversary of William & Mary’s Executive MBA program (EMBA).
Soon after the cocktail hour began, the atrium filled with excited chatter as classmates shared big hugs and favorite stories from their time together.
“I’ll never forget the first day of class,” said Gino Venditti, EMBA ’04, who traveled to the event from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “They told us to remove or hire out anything extraneous in our lives. They said, ‘if you have a lawn, hire someone to cut it; if you are planning a family vacation, hire someone to go for you.’”
It was the first time back on campus in 30 years for Rocky Holliday ’86, a member of the first EMBA class. “All the skills and passion I needed to form my business came from William & Mary. It is wonderful to see what the program has become.”
Elizabeth (Cole) Graves, EMBA ’90, came hoping to catch up with classmates and professors. “This program was the best thing I ever did for myself in my life. I am so happy to be here tonight to celebrate.”
As dinner was served in the courtyard, the evening’s emcee, Associate Dean for MBA and Executive Programs Ken White, welcomed the crowd.
“When the Executive MBA program launched, it was one of the first programs like it in the country,” said White. “The program now has more than 1,000 graduates and it is humbling to see so many of you here tonight.”
Professor Larry Ring reflected on the program’s early years and shared a video tribute to the late John Jamison who served as dean of the business school from 1983 to 1990.
“He had a vision of what the Mason School could become. He strove to bring business into the business school and the founding of the EMBA program is part of his legacy,” said Ring.
EMBA alumnus Carol Rice Bibb, EMBA ’95, spoke about the most important attributes necessary to become successful - integrity, drive, knowledge, confidence and courage - and how her time at William & Mary helped her grow in each of these areas.
“My William & Mary EMBA experience came at the perfect point in my career. It helped me build a base that allowed me to do things, which had been unimaginable,” said Bibb who built a successful career as one of the few female leaders in the chemical engineering field. “It always makes me proud, when asked by my colleagues about where I went to school, to tell them that I received my graduate degree from William & Mary.”
Dean Larry Pulley took the podium next. He thanked Jeffery R. Gardner ’97, and his wife Christine for their $250,000 gift to fund teaching and research and he spoke about how the EMBA program has been transformative for so many.
“We have something going on here that is unique and uniquely valuable,” said Pulley. “We prepare people for lives of principled achievement; it’s what has distinguished our alumni for 300 years and counting. We created and for thirty years have provided something special and I commend you, our alumni, for taking full advantage of it.”