December 11, 2008
Dear Yale SOM Graduates:
As the news of the deepening financial crisis draws daily attention to new weaknesses in the global economy, it seems particularly appropriate to focus this message on the strengths of our SOM community.
The Yale School of Management is responding to these unprecedented challenges on every level, operationally, programmatically, in the classroom, in our research, on the road, and in the media. On the employment front, while we work to ensure that our current MBA students are well positioned to navigate the challenges of an altered recruiting landscape, we have also reached out to SOM alumni who may have been affected by recent events. Our Career Development Office is well positioned to identify the opportunities that exist and to assist both current students and alumni in assessment and in career and transition strategies. I encourage you to make use of SOM's resources if the need arises. As an institution, we are committed to supporting all of the members of the SOM family.
In the classroom, my faculty seem to have taken every appropriate opportunity to make these current events a teachable moment. From core courses to electives, this fall we have been doing our utmost to integrate lessons and questions from what we know already about the crisis into the syllabus. In one elective class, we had two Congressional staffers address the students via speakerphone even as the TARP legislation was unfolding. Questions about management ethics in the recent market meltdown have been raised in the core Investor class. In the spring, there will be more opportunities to study the current situation, including a segment of the Integrated Leadership Perspective (the final core course for first year students), which will be devoted entirely to a case on the financial crisis.
The faculty are also already working on research projects and fieldwork devoted to understanding the downturn. From exploring the productive relationship between a loan officer and a client that can stave off a single foreclosure action to broader research on the structure of global regulatory institutions to in-depth financial analyses of recent company failures or the housing price bubble, SOM professors are working hard to understand the circumstances, actors, and drivers that have helped to shape our current environment. In addition, our Case Research team is developing a series of a dozen interactive cases on the subprime crisis that will be available later in this academic year.
SOM faculty are also offering their expertise and opinions in many public fora. There have been several on-campus panels and presentations as the financial crisis has unfolded. SOM professors have taken part in panels for Yale alumni and other panels, both here and overseas. You may have read SOM faculty op-eds in the Washington Post or Newsweek or the New York Times. I contributed an essay on what MBA educators must learn from this crisis to a special report on Forbes.com. Many of you already know about the expert panel SOM organized with the Wall Street Journal and CNBC back in September. We have gathered these resources, and many others, together on the SOM website and we continue to update this page as new stories and views are published. We view this public discourse and information-sharing as an essential part of our educational mission.
These times, while difficult for many, present opportunities both for learning and for strengthening the bonds of community that we share. It may have been impossible to predict its magnitude, but some of the emerging themes of this current crisis, for example, the interdependency of the public and private sectors or the essential need for principled leadership at every level of an organization, come as no surprise to those of us who have learned or taught at the Yale School of Management. For over 30 years, SOM has been focused on those very themes. In the challenging times to come, we will maintain — if not sharpen — that focus.
Sharon M. Oster
Dean and Frederic D. Wolfe Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship