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2021 Alumni Survey Update From Dean Kerwin Charles

Dear Yale SOM Alums:

I recently had the privilege of hosting many of you for the kick-off of the Driving Purpose campaign. Over the next four years, Yale SOM will be in “campaign mode,” which means you will be hearing a lot from us. We will be asking for your time, your ideas, and your financial support to help make our vision of a stronger, more impactful Yale SOM a reality.

What I enjoyed most about our launch event was getting to hear from so many of you, and I hope that two-way communication foreshadows a sustained dialog about the future of our school that will last throughout the campaign. We will only fully achieve our ambitions by moving forward as a unified community. Being unified doesn’t require that we agree on every issue but rather that we cohere around our shared mission and commit to jointly contributing to the school’s impact on the world.

I’m not declaring something new to the SOM community. As Bill and Jane Donaldson noted at the kick-off event, the mission has always drawn people to SOM, and it fueled the efforts of our early pathbreakers. It’s likely what drew you to our community.

The importance of the mission to you comes through clearly in recent survey evidence. In this survey, seventy-six percent of you said the mission was an important reason you chose to come to SOM. Besides the foundational importance of our mission, we learned other things in the survey. 

First, there is clear evidence of how much SOM alums care about the school. Of those of you responding to the survey, ninety-two percent said that attending SOM was a good or great decision; ninety-five percent said that their SOM degree remains very valuable. More than ninety percent say that you would help promote the school to friends, acquaintances, and colleagues at least occasionally. 

Not only do you have positive sentiment about your school, but you express a desire for new ways to engage with it and the SOM community, including, especially, events that allow you to connect with old friends or around professional interests. We hear you clearly. As COVID’s effects recede, we’re confident that we can host many more of these kinds of engagements, which haven’t been possible over the last two years.

See additional data from the 2021 Alumni Survey. 

I also appreciated reading many of the free-form comments that you entered. Time after time, you pointed to the North Star of the mission when thinking about the future direction of the school. I include here a few comments that struck me as worth reflecting on.

I know this is a business school, but as one focused on business and society and one with a lot of influence, I think we could create a better world by having robust and challenging discussions about capitalism, racism, etc... and what it would truly look like for us to use our privilege for good not just on the edges but at the very foundation of our work and lives.” —Class of ’14 

If you really care about diverse voices, you should showcase people who have done interesting things that aren’t for Goldman Sachs or the United Nations or because they have big money or big titles. There are a lot of us out here slogging away—somewhat unseen—making massive impact on our relatively smaller corners of the world.” —Class of ’90 

The world needs courageous leaders who will build teams that make a difference in the world and SOM should be known as a place that produces some of the best of those. I strive to represent the name on that diploma as well as possible in that regard each day.” —Class of ’06

Our mission of educating leaders for business and society calls on us to build stronger teams, organizations, and companies that contribute to the greater good because of how they’re run and the values they embody. As we embark on the Driving Purpose campaign, I want us all to consider how we can strengthen the school and make the world a better place. I know this is a big ask, but this ambitious goal is what makes it so exciting to be part of this community. 

Best regards,