This election year, WashU Olin students, faculty and staff are making values-based, data-driven decisions as they vote early, vote in person or return their absentee ballots. Our community is driven by the desire to change the world, for good, by voting with their values and researching what’s on the ballot.
For some in our community, this election was their first. Kristy Chan, EMBA advisor, shared that she was “excited to vote for the first time as an American citizen!” Others waited in long election day lines, volunteered at the polls or helped to get out the vote.
Check out scenes from WashU Olin’s community of values-based, data-driven voters.
Katherine Dudley, BSBA ’22, is a Wood Scholarship recipient, part of Olin’s Scholars in Business Program. This year, Howard and Marilyn Wood have generously committed to match all new and increased gifts and multi-year pledge payments for undergraduate and graduate scholarships—up to a total of $400,000, through June 30, 2021. Dudley shares how the Wood Scholarship has impacted her studies.
I remember my first visit to Washington University. When I walked on campus I just knew this school was the best fit for me.
I remember telling my mom on the campus tour, “This is it. This is where I have to go to school. I love everything about it. It’s perfect.”
My mind buzzing with possibility, I started working on my application the day I got back home. I applied early decision, which meant that I checked my email obsessively throughout the beginning December, hoping with my whole my heart that WashU would welcome me to its freshman class.
There was one day, though, that I did not check my email. It had been a busier day than usual, and my dad took one of my three sisters and me to watch a collegiate volleyball game. We arrived home to the house decorated with red and green balloons and streamers: My mom had seen the news of my acceptance to the school of my dreams. My future never felt brighter!
Then came the tough part. How could my family possibly afford to send me to WashU?
I am the oldest of four girls, and I grew up rarely seeing my dad due to his ever-changing, chaotic work schedule. He was always there for me—and when it came to my education, he said, “That school is worth every penny of the tuition. If she can get in, I’ll make it work. I’ll add shifts, I’ll do whatever it takes because Olin is worth it, and so is Kat’s future.”
For me, to hear his response now fills me with joy that my dad was so proud and loved me so much that he was willing to add to his work load. Yet, hearing his response also adds new perspective. Extra shifts would mean that he would be away from my mom and sisters even more than he already is.
With my family and future at Olin in mind, I got to work writing essays for scholarships. I applied for each of the five scholarships available to Olin students. And in the same way the news of my acceptance to WashU became an unforgettable moment, Dean Malter’s phone call to personally tell me he loved my essay changed my life once again. In my essay I had written about my experience with Athleta, a national athleisure fashion company, and the nonprofit that I started in my hometown called Koats4Kids. Both experiences reflected my passion for helping kids and teens through clothing.
I was on the treadmill completing a track workout at the local rec center when my mom ran over shouting, “Kat, Kat, Dean Malter is on the phone!” I immediately pulled the emergency treadmill cord, jumped off, grabbed the phone and ran to the empty dance room to find some quiet.
Breathing heavily and drenched in sweat, my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest from nervous excitement. My mind was spinning. Dean Malter shared that Olin would like to offer me a full-ride scholarship.
In shock, my legs gave out from under me and I collapsed into a crouched position. I turned to my mom and with tears in my eyes mouthed, “full-ride.” And I can honestly say I don’t remember much of what happened right after that because I was so happy and excited that I just started to laugh and cry, and I think I remember my mom cheering and crying too. The best part of this story was telling my dad, who has been my biggest supporter and has made so many sacrifices for my family and me.
The Wood Scholarship has given me the gift of time and focus. Without the pressure to find part-time work, I have been able to commit myself wholeheartedly to academics, track and leadership roles at Olin. I will be able to study abroad, represent Olin as a rising intern and engage fully in all of the opportunities Olin provides outside of the classroom. The college experience I have dreamed of is now possible because of the generosity of the Wood family. My family’s and my profound gratitude for the Wood Scholarship is matched by our pride as a WashU family.
I am also grateful for my growing relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Wood. Their generosity continues to change the lives of students like me. In later years, when I am a successful Olin alumna, I will pay the Wood’s kindness forward, with the goal of impacting the lives of future Olin students, just as the Woods have forever changed mine.
About Howard Wood
Howard Wood, BSBA ’61, grew up in the lead mining community of Bonne Terre, Missouri, just sixty miles south of St. Louis. His parents, both schoolteachers, wanted him to attend college, but they did not have the financial means to support his education. Howard and his brother, Donald Wood, BSBA ’66, received scholarships from Henry Day, president of a mining and manufacturing business in Bonne Terre.
After graduating from Olin, he went on to have a successful accounting career at Arthur Andersen & Co., quickly rising through the ranks. Switching gears, he took on the roles
of CFO and CEO of Cencom Cable Television before co-founding two telecommunications companies, Charter Communications Inc. and Cequel III LLC.
Howard has been a champion of WashU Olin Business School for decades. Since 1995, Howard has served in leadership roles for the Olin Alumni Association and Olin National Council. In 1998, he established the Wood Leadership Fellows Program, which evolved into the Wood Scholars Program in 2016. Wood Scholars receive significant awards to attend Olin each year.
Howard also served on the Washington University Board of Trustees beginning
in 2000 and was named an emeritus trustee in 2011. He has been heavily involved in the success of the university and Olin and hopes to ensure a bright future for even more students through this challenge.
Samuel Chun is assistant dean, director of executive education and a professor of management practice for WashU Olin Business School. In his role, he’s collaborating with colleagues from the business school and the Brookings Institution to transform how executive education is delivered during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. He responded to questions for the Olin Blog.
How has the pandemic affected the way your team thinks about executive education?
Well, it’s been a transformation. First of all, the core of our activity until February 2020 was the face-to-face executive education offering that’s been every school’s standard—emphasis on “was.” Obviously, that’s not possible for probably another year or so.
So, everything we’ve managed to save has been converted to some kind of electronic delivery. A few years ago, Professor Tom Fields and I experimented with virtual programming. While it worked well enough, I think the assessment was that without face-to-face, the networking aspect really fell off. Really, until seven months ago, no one actually thought executive education could, or should, be done electronically.
Now there’s no choice: we are all learning how to teach, learn and network in novel ways.
How do you see your offerings evolving over the next few years?
What we’re mostly doing right now is what we call “virtual education.” In essence, that means taking our standard classroom materials and piping it through a platform, like Zoom, or Teams. Once we can get back to face-to-face, I think most of that will go away.
Someday, executive education may offer purely online, asynchronous programming that people can take whenever they want, but that’s a pretty full and competitive space.
So, “online” is probably a longer-term proposition. What we’ll probably develop and keep are “digital executive education” programs, which combine our live [electronic] connections with asynchronous online content. I think that’s a viable—and value-adding—proposition for several of our clients. Digital education will be here to stay.
In a recent Olin town hall, you mentioned that the Center for Digital Education has developed a learning management system for use with outside clients. Tell us more.
Ray Irving and his CDE team have been developing a Canvas-like platform (Learn.Washu) we can use for non-WashU affiliates such as corporate clients. It’s phenomenal, and they’ve made incredible progress since we piloted it during the MBA program’s global immersion experience last year.
It’s got course material storage and delivery, interactive communication features, video capabilities, announcements and a lot more. It helps us integrate our clients into the Olin community, which is something our Washington University systems don’t allow.
On top of that, it will have an alumni/lifelong learning area that will also be accessible to our clients. That’s a kind of continuity that we’re really looking forward to being able to offer.
So where does executive education go from here?
Well, the first priority is to re-engage clients who’ve elected to postpone until the pandemic is over. Basically, I’ve heard our physician community suggest this is not going away anytime soon, so “waiting for this to end” isn’t an acceptable option for any company that wants to keep up with executive development.
The next thing would be to continue expanding our offerings in the digital space. Finally, broadening our geographical (and client) reach is definitely something we’re already pursuing. I think digital education and Learn.Washu will take us a long way towards those goals.
Pictured above: Sam on a break from teaching an executive education course from his home teaching studio.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down campus and
eliminated the possibility of in-person celebrations, WashU Olin still plans to
recognize all our graduating students this year.
Washington University’s Chancellor
Andrew Martin announced his creation of an Alternate Commencement Committee
on April 17. That committee will examine the best way to honor the class of
2020 throughout WashU when it becomes safe to do so. While no formal
announcements have been made, the committee plans to have more information
In the meantime, WashU Olin will move forward with virtual
graduation recognition ceremonies that supplement, but do not replace, the
university-wide celebration. On May 8 and May 15, Olin will release virtual
graduation videos for each planned ceremony at the time of the original event.
Each video celebration will include remarks from Dean Mark
P. Taylor and Chancellor Andrew Martin, student speakers, announcements of
student award recipients and remarks from the Reid Teaching Award winners. Though
the degree candidates will not be able to “walk” during the ceremonies, their
names will scroll on the screen during the presentations.
Executive Education: EMBA & WashU at
Brookings master of science in leadership, 10:30 a.m.
Friday, May 15
BSBA, 11:30 a.m.
Graduate programs, 3 p.m.
We welcome any photos or reflections from your participation
in our graduation ceremonies. Please share any images or videos with us
@wustlbusiness and use #WashU20. Though this isn’t the ceremony any of us
expected, we offer our heartfelt congratulations to the class of 2020.
Students in EBMA Class 53 took the “values-based, data-driven” concept to heart—literally—during their November residency in Shanghai, with an afternoon spent with nonprofit Heart to Heart and a decision that would change the life of a young girl in China.
In November 2019, students in the Executive MBA class 53
took part in a week-long residency in China. They started out in Beijing,
exploring the city’s renowned landmarks and studying strategy at plants before
heading to Shanghai for a series of experiential courses on trade, healthcare,
strategy and more. Residencies like these combine rigorous coursework with
international experiences to give executives a high-quality educational experience.
But just taking on a traditional residency experience wasn’t
enough for this class. EMBA staff added an afternoon of service to the
itinerary, giving students the chance to interact directly with young children
and give back to the Shanghai community.
Working with Shanghai Heart to Heart, a nonprofit
organization that orchestrates heart surgeries for impoverished families,
students helped with the group’s monthly shoe distribution, sewed distribution
bags and sorted in-kind donations.
Ben Hjelle, member of EMBA Class 53, called the experience “profoundly
humbling,” saying that it “underlined the bonds that all humans share
regardless of geography or language.” The volunteer staff, many of whom were expatriates
like the organization’s founders, took few resources and turned them into
something exceptional—leading Hjelle to call them “civil servant entrepreneurs.”
Before going on the trip, the class was made aware of the
possibility of providing donations to Heart to Heart that would help fund the
group’s mission to provide heart surgeries at no cost to families who need them.
Many members of the class chose to give in advance of the service afternoon,
and still more felt compelled to give after the experience was over.
Reflecting on the choice the class made to fund a heart surgery, Hjelle said the class “would have contributed to countless organizations if we could.” But he and others were particularly inspired by Heart to Heart.
“I was missing our two-year-old son something fierce by that
point in the trip,” Hjelle explained. “I don’t speak Mandarin, but watching
those kids come into the playroom, seeing their faces shed the weariness of
their journey and pick up a new toy, I immediately felt like I was at home with
Two months after the students returned to normal life in St. Louis and throughout the US, they heard from Heart to Heart’s executive director, Karen Carrington. Carrington shared the story of Dai Yuxi, an eighteen-month-old girl from the Anhui province who’s being raised by her single father.
Dai Yuxi (pictured below) was diagnosed with VSD and recommended as a candidate for heart surgery, but her father – who also cares for Dai’s twelve-year-old brother and their grandfather – couldn’t afford the surgery.
Then came the EMBA Class 53 donation. Carrington shared, “Because of [EMBA Class 53’s] generosity, Dai Yuxi was able to have her open heart surgery on January 6. She spent 5 days on the critical lifst, but then moved from ICU to the Recovery Unit. She is doing much better now.”
Quite simply, EMBA 53’s willingness to give saved Dai Yuxi’s
Reflecting on the experience of spending time with a little
boy not much older than his son while in Shanghai, and how it inspired him to
donate, Hjelle said, “I was reminded that, beneath the superficial differences
that we in our basest moments emphasize and exploit, we are all part of the
same human community. I am grateful to that little boy and his parents for
conveying that lesson so clearly and effortlessly, though it may not have been