Tag: WashU at Brookings



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 available soon.

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.

Olin professor Hilary Anger Elfenbein wore her regalia to record her speech from home.

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.

Videos will be made available at the time of each ceremony on the Olin graduation web page. Each ceremony will stream on Olin’s Facebook page, YouTube Channel and Instagram.  

Schedule of Ceremonies

Friday, May 8

  • EMBA Class 53, 10:30 a.m.
  • 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 (EMBA Class 53) sorts shoes for 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 my son.”

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 life.

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 their intent.”




Twenty-nine Chinese hospital administrators spent a recent Monday morning in a Knight Center classroom with WashU Olin’s Barton Hamilton, who shared stories about “the power of pain” as he lectured on managing innovation in the context of healthcare and beyond.

“Entrepreneurship is all about getting people to change from doing one thing to doing something else,” Hamilton, Olin’s Robert Brookings Smith Distinguished Professor of Economics, Management & Entrepreneurship, told the medical professionals from hospitals throughout China.

Chinese healthcare administrators during a field tour as part of their Olin-sponsored executive education program.
Chinese healthcare administrators during a field tour as part of their Olin-sponsored executive education program.

“This is extremely difficult. In medicine, getting your patient to follow your advice is extremely difficult, even when they’re sick and if they don’t change their behavior they could die,” Hamilton said. “As an entrepreneur, for you to success, you need them to change their behavior and buy your product or your service.”

Hamilton’s lecture on the pain entrepreneurs must demonstrate for potential customers was one class in a special two-week, custom-designed executive education course for the contingent of Chinese healthcare administrators. The program was the first large-scale initiative of its kind built jointly between WashU Olin Business School and the Washington University Medical School.

“It’s a nice representation of our global footprint and it’s a fairly high-profile collaboration with the medical school,” said Patrick Moreton, Professor of Practice in Strategy and Management who organized the course. “It’s something we really want to do more of. We’re using our expertise in China to be a bridge to the healthcare system here and the needs in China.”

Moreton said the medical school team was an active partner in the design of the two-week course, which ran from October 21 to November 1, 2019. The course was offered to members of the China National Health Commission, focusing on “precision healthcare and translational medicine.”

The Chinese visitors spent their mornings in lectures with a variety of Olin faculty who touched on different components of management. Several afternoons, they boarded buses for field trips to a selection of WashU-affiliated med school sites and St. Louis biotech hubs including BioSTL, the WashU telemedicine intensive care unit, the Siteman Cancer Center, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Barnes Jewish Hospital.

Chinese healthcare administrators during a field tour as part of their Olin-sponsored executive education program.
Chinese healthcare administrators during a field tour as part of their Olin-sponsored executive education program.

“The content of the morning was about how to put into practice what they were looking at in the afternoons—organizationally in their home institutions,” Moreton said. “We were at the boundary between WashU and the outside world in terms of technology.”

The program had its origins with Eric Jiang, MBA ’04 and vice president of Huici Health Management Co. “He was very interested in connecting health management to WashU,” Moreton said. The medical school recently formed a collaboration with Huici to help with physician training and the design of a new medical center and 1,000-bed hospital in China’s eastern city of Suzhou.

In addition to Moreton and Hamilton, Olin professors who participated in the program included Andrew Knight, who taught a session on “informal leadership”; Peter Boumgarden, focusing on collaboration and teamwork; Lamar Pierce on managing a medical research enterprise; Nick Argyres on managing innovation in therapeutics; Hillary Anger Elfenbein on emotional intelligence; and Panos Kouvelis on operational excellence.

“It’s an expanded collaboration with the medical school. This is the first time we’ve done anything in conjunction with the medical school for another group — and it just happens to be a global group,” said Kelly Bean, senior associate dean and the Charles F. Knight Distinguished Director of Executive Education at WashU Olin. “This is an innovation in executive education. This is another way we’re bringing St. Louis into the world.”

Pictured above: A selection of representatives attending the China National Health Commission training program on precision healthcare and translational medicine.




Pictured above: An Olin-led executive education class underway at Brookings in our newly expanded space.

The roots of executive education run deep in St. Louis and in Washington, DC, at our partner, The Brookings Institution. They’re about to run deeper.

In St. Louis, our expertise in executive education runs back at least to 1955, when Lee M. Liberman wrote to a colleague about a faculty-led management seminar he’d attended as a 34-year-old. Liberman later served four decades on the WashU’s board of trustees alongside two chancellors.

Also, in the late ’50s, Brookings launched two-week conferences aimed at “men of high caliber at the executive level,” according to a journal writeup at the time. Jointly, Olin and Brookings have partnered for years on leadership and management education in DC, taught by Olin faculty.

Although we’re already highly ranked globally for executive education—12th in the nation and 32nd worldwide, according to the Financial Times—we know we can lead further on the strengths we already have.

Leveraging our unique partnership with Brookings, we’ve created a joint organization that deeply entwines Olin’s research-based leadership in executive education with the global policy and economic expertise at the world’s premier think-tank. We’ve already rebranded the existing program as WashU at Brookings. We envision the relationship growing further still.

“The leaders of the future need to be able to navigate a set of questions that Brookings brings to the table,” said Kelly Bean, senior associate dean and the Charles F. Knight Distinguished Director of Executive Education at WashU Olin. Based at Brookings, commuting between DC and St. Louis, she is charged with unifying and expanding executive education operations in both locations.

As Kelly sees it, Brookings sits at the nexus of business, governmental policy and social impact. “That’s the sweet spot where we want to be able to help leaders in their organizations: How can that integration impact their own organizations?”

At the same time, our St. Louis-based operation continues to draw business from corporate partners eager for access to our expertise on leadership development, change management and strategic alignment our faculty experts can provide. Sam Chun, assistant dean and director of executive education, is about to depart for the Netherlands, for example, to begin delivering Olin’s first international exec ed program in leadership development for Rabobank, a Dutch multinational financial services firm.

Other new partners for Olin exec ed include distribution service provider Bunzl Distribution, pharmaceutical maker Pfizer, and AB InBev—which was attracted by the closer connection and program potential of our Brookings relationship. “We’re designing the program with AB InBev as we speak,” Sam said.

“That’s key,” Sam says. We don’t simply build programs and hope executives show up in the classroom. “We ask the market and design a program for them. And because of that, they come.”

With a deeper connection to Brookings, we anticipate DC-based policy experts leading courses for executives in St. Louis, with content delivered either in person or through our Center for Digital Education. Likewise, we see a world with expanded content from Olin faculty in St. Louis offered to executives in the DC area.

Those issues align deeply with Olin’s own DNA, focused as we are on values-based, data-driven decision-making in a global context and equipping leaders with the tools to change the world, for good. It’s just a bonus that the nation’s top CEOs, through the influential Business Roundtable, are coming around to our way of thinking about executive leadership.

“I think the historical connection between Brookings and WashU makes this so effective,” Kelly said.

Our focus on executive education isn’t new, but it’s more important today than ever. We all thrive when, as Olin deans realized decades ago, we serve the needs of corporate partners, bringing the latest business research into the boardroom. It also remains an important part of Olin’s mission of lifelong learning.

It’s the future of executive education—and WashU Olin is leading the way.

Pictured above: An Olin-led executive education class underway at Brookings in our newly expanded space.




Kelly Bean

Please join me in welcoming Kelly Bean as our director of executive education and professor of practice in leadership.

Kelly is president and CEO of executive education at UVA Darden and has more than 20 years’ experience in executive education at UVA, Emory, UCLA and USC, before which she worked in industry.

I have charged Kelly with unifying and expanding our St. Louis and Washington, DC, exec ed operations, and she will be based primarily in our Brookings Institution office in DC with significant time in St. Louis.

This position was endowed by a major supporter, benefactor and friend of Olin, the late Charles Knight, so Kelly will be the inaugural Charles F. Knight Distinguished Director of Executive Education. She will also become a senior associate dean and join my senior leadership team, reflecting the importance I attach to exec ed and, in particular, to building the Brookings partnership.

Kelly joins us May 1.

I would also like to announce the promotion of Ian Dubin to associate dean and managing director of the WashU Brookings Partnership. Please also join me in congratulating Ian. Ian has been instrumental in building our Brookings partnership and he will work alongside Mary Ellen Joyce, associate dean and executive director of the partnership.

In terms of organizational structure, Ian and Mary Ellen will report to Kelly, as will Sam Chun, assistant dean for executive education. Ian and Mary Ellen will also have a dotted line to Lamar Pierce, professor of organization and strategy and associate dean for the WashU Brookings Partnership, who overseas the academic development of our DC programmes, working alongside Kelly.

We have a world-class executive education team in both DC and St. Louis and are poised to take Olin to the next level in this important and impactful area of our activity.




Former Dean Stuart Greenbaum offers his tribute to Ron Allen during a retirement reception at Kopolow Library in Simon Hall on October 12.

Former Dean Stuart Greenbaum offers his tribute to Ron Allen
during a retirement reception at Kopolow Library
in Simon Hall on October 12.

When Ron Allen first arrived on WashU’s campus for a new job as business school librarian, there wasn’t one—at least, not one adequate to serve a world-class business school.

In 1986, Robert Virgil was dean, on a mission to raise Olin Business School’s profile among global business schools. Simon Hall was under construction and a new, state-of-the-art business library was part of the plan to help propel Olin to new heights. Allen was to be the first to build the library from a tiny nook and to hold an endowed directorship for the position as the Asa F. Seay Librarian.

“There was a sense of starting from nothing and growing this library into a first-rate service for faculty and students,” Allen recalled on October 5, on the occasion of his retirement from WashU, 33 years after his arrival. The New York City native—who confessed that “I don’t know if I could have identified St. Louis on a map”—spent three decades building, defending, and morphing the library through changes in leadership and technology.

“He was a change agent like nobody else over the course of his career,” said Ron King, Myron Northrop Professor of Accounting, in his tribute remarks. “The heart of the school was the library.”

At an event in the ornate reading room at the Al and Ruth Kopolow Business Library, three former deans and Todd Milbourn, vice dean and Hubert C. and Dorothy R. Moog Professor of Finance, shared their recollections of Allen’s career and contributions.

Milbourn recalled how Allen “got me wired in” as a brand new faculty member in the business school when he arrived, describing Allen as a partner in research who would find and help faculty exploit new data sets for their work.

Former deans Stuart Greenbaum and Mahendra Gupta recalled occasions when they tried to commandeer space from the library to accommodate expanding programs at Olin—attempts Allen rebuffed every time.

“You fell in love with the place when you walked into Kopolow,” Greenbaum said, crediting Allen with the environment he’d created. Gupta built on that remark, calling the library “the intellectual future of the school.”

When Allen came to WashU to run the business library, it was a standalone entity. It’s since been absorbed as part of the WashU library system. He said he’s come to terms with the idea of retirement and is looking forward to downsizing from a house to a Central West End apartment and his Florida condo.

“His handprint is all over this library and the way it was shaped and developed,” said former Dean Robert Virgil. “It was why our students wanted to stay here and study here.”