A Message to Alumni
September 20, 2002
Dear Yale SOM Graduates,
It is with great pleasure that I write to you from the Dean's Desk of the inaugural issue of the electronic Alumni newsletter. This e-news is one of a series of new programs we developed over the summer with the guidance of the Yale SOM Alumni Association Board and the SOMAA. Our goal is to increase the quality of communication and level of services we offer our alumni.
As you know, last year was an extraordinary one -- for the world and for the School. We are in the midst of great changes in society and in business. The impact of September 11 has produced a sharp discontinuity in global politics and economics from the last two decades, and everyone -- governments, businesses, nonprofits -- is navigating in uncharted waters. In addition, corporate scandals have undermined our trust in a system we valued as one of the best in the world.
The School is responding in a quintessentially Yale SOM manner -- looking at corporate governance across private, public, and nonprofit sectors and across national borders, by mobilizing faculty members to address these issues in the classroom and in the media, and by getting to real fundamental questions that won't evaporate with tomorrow's headlines.
Last spring, we opened the International Institute for Corporate Governance (IICG.) The IICG came into being just when the business world was shaken by the Enron and WorldCom debacles. Most immediately, we are addressing the imperatives of fixing the problems in the U.S., as well as addressing the need for higher corporate governance standards abroad, which can improve the economic and social opportunities of millions of people. The research of IICG Director, Professor Florencio López-de-Silanes, shows why, in a financial crisis, the exchange rates and stock markets of countries with poor governance crumble -- as they have in Indonesia and in the Czech Republic -- while those with higher governance standards suffer far less -- as have Poland and Chile. In this newsletter, and on our website, we offer you the ability to download the latest published research on many of the most critical issues facing business and society today.
We also have launched a new lecture series this year, entitled "Governance, Accountability and Transparency," which examines the complex issues associated with corporate governance from a variety of vantage points. Visiting professor and corporate governance expert Ira Millstein opened the series the first week of class. Lectures will also be given by Professors López-de-Silanes(finance and economics), Sharon Oster (competitive strategies for businesses and non-profits), Rick Antle (accounting), Dick Wittink (marketing), and Doug Rae (politics). The complete lineup with subject matter is available on our website, as well as the ability to listen to the series on-line. In addition, all of our high level executives who speak at the Leaders Forum this year will address corporate values during their talks, which are also available on-line.
I know all this activity will lead to a dynamic exchange of ideas among members of the Yale SOM community -- alumni, faculty, and students -- and my hope is that it will foster what Associate Dean Jeff Sonnenfeld (organizational behavior), who teaches leadership and heads our Chief Executive Institute (CELI) calls " a culture of open dissent...strong enough to withstand clashing viewpoints and challenging questions." You can read more of his thinking in a new Harvard Business Review article (What Makes Great Boards Great, Sep 1, 2002).