Originally published in Kellogg World magazine Dean Donald P. Jacobs built Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management into an international leader in management education. We look back on a quarter-century of innovation.
By Rebecca Lindell
They couldn't know it then, but the members of the brain trust meeting at the old Tower Restaurant a quarter-century ago were holding the future of management education in their hands.
John Barr, dean of the Northwestern Graduate School of Management, had retired, and a successor had yet to be found. The members of the search committee put down their forks, looked around the table and declared an ultimatum.
"We had been at this for a year," recalls committee member Robert Duncan. "We'd offered the job to a few outside candidates, but everyone had turned us down. There were a few business people on the committee and they said, 'Enough is enough. This is our last meeting. Let’s pick a dean.'"
Their gaze settled on committee member and Finance Department chairman Donald P. Jacobs.
"It's time for you to start thinking about taking this job," they told him.
Jacobs, a veteran professor of finance, was committed to the school. In fact, the committee had suggested more than once that he would be a good successor to Barr. Each time, Jacobs had demurred, saying, "We can find somebody better."
But that reason had grown less credible as one nominee after another rejected the job, and as the committee began to consider what Jacobs regarded as a lower echelon of candidates.
"I didn't want to be a dean," Jacobs remembers. "I was enjoying what I was doing. But I told them I would take the job for a year or so and I would keep looking for a new candidate."
Twenty-five years later, Don Jacobs is still dean, and no one has come up with a better replacement.
The soul of the school
In the years since then, Jacobs has accomplished what many regarded as impossible. In a world where academic reputations seemed written in stone, he has masterminded the ascension of an unassuming business school into perhaps the most influential institution of its kind.
Meanwhile, he has garnered almost as much attention for the way he does things as for what he does. In many ways, his personal qualities have come to define the culture of Kellogg.
"I think Don is the soul of the school. He's the intellectual as well as the emotional center of Kellogg," says James McManus '56, chairman and CEO of Beachside Capital Partners and a member of the Kellogg Advisory Board. "He's an extremely good listener and communicator, and he doesn't have a fixed agenda. He doesn't seem to have any ego involved, even though he has such a large persona. That allows him to be very accessible. He's a very unselfish guy."
"Don is absolutely without any sense of complacency or self-satisfaction," adds Pete Henderson, Kellogg's former associate dean for administration. "He's quick and open to change. It's easy when you get to the top perch to maintain rather than to innovate. But he's been very innovative in recognizing new opportunities."
"The thing about Don that we all love so much is that Don is Kellogg, and to a certain extent, Kellogg is Don," says Mike Miles, special limited partner of Forstmann & Co. and chairman of the Kellogg Advisory Board. "He's an extremely creative person. He has great vision and great instincts about what works and what doesn't. What you see there is a result of his dedication over the years to make Kellogg the best management school there is."
A firm foundation
To be sure, the foundation for Jacobs' transformation of the school had been laid by his predecessor, Barr. During his 10-year tenure, the former chairman of Montgomery Ward oversaw the school's shift in focus from "business" to "management," a move that helped differentiate the school from its rivals. Since the school could not afford to hire many high-priced executives or established academics, Barr bolstered the faculty with plenty of young, research-oriented PhDs destined to grow in prominence.
Barr's retirement in 1974 initiated a search for a leader who would know how to capitalize on these strengths. "We're really looking for God, as long as He or She is available by next September," joked the search committee's chairman, Professor Alfred Rappaport.
Rappaport's estimation of the difficulty of filling the slot, however, was accurate. Since Barr had a proven track record in the corporate world, it seemed logical to offer the job to another accomplished business practitioner. But with no takers in sight, it soon became clear that the school would have to look closer to home for its next leader.
Enter Jacobs, who was not, many colleagues recall, an obvious choice.
"Donald was a very, very different person than his predecessor, in almost every way," remembers Stuart Greenbaum, a close colleague of Jacobs' before leaving Kellogg in 1995 to become dean of Washington University's John M. Olin School of Business. Barr had been a "silk-stockings corporate type of guy, a lawyer who had worked with very large organizations. He was a very proper individual, a little stiff and formal.
"Don wasn't any of those things. In fact, he was all the things this guy wasn’t."
"Don wasn't packaged. He's never been afraid to say what’s on his mind," says Louis Stern, the John D. Gray Distinguished Professor of Marketing and a Kellogg faculty member since 1973. "At the same time, he's always been very supportive. His value system is right. He is kind to people. He's opinionated, and some might find that a little intimidating, but there's no one whose heart is bigger than Don's."
It may not have been the style of a traditional dean candidate, but then, the Northwestern Graduate School of Management wasn't destined to remain a traditional business school.
"He won’t be deterred"
The school in 1975 was indeed a very different place than the Kellogg School of today.
Where Kellogg now has an annual budget of $138 million and an endowment of $315 million, it got by a quarter-century ago on $4 million a year and an endowment of $7.5 million.
While 6,070 applicants competed for 624 spaces in 1999 — roughly 10 for every slot — the school in 1975 enrolled 341 out of 1,752 applicants, or nearly one out of every five. And only 36 percent had any work experience. Today, Kellogg students arrive with at least four years' worth of real-world accomplishments under their belts.
Kellogg now boasts some 50 endowed professorships, whose holders include some of the most acclaimed educators in the world. It had only a half-dozen such chairs in 1975, severely hampering its ability to lure top faculty.
Even so, the school's reputation was on the upswing. By the early 1970s, it was beginning to appear in listings of the nation’s top 15 business schools. By the middle of the decade, it was rated in the top 10.
Still, Northwestern's Graduate School of Management was rarely mentioned in the same breath as the business schools in the Ivy League, at Stanford University and at the University of Chicago — an omission that rankled many in the school's administration. "I believe that as we came to the middle of the 1970s, the world at large probably did not appreciate how good we were," Jacobs says.
It seemed logical to Jacobs, a man not given to half-measures, to take this solid program and make it "the very best there was."
"We had a good student body, but if we wanted to be great, we had to make it a great student body," he recalls. "Likewise, we had a good faculty and good facilities, but to be great, we would have to build a great faculty and great facilities."
Creating that environment with the limited resources at his disposal was not a task for the faint of heart. But as many of his associates note, Jacobs was up for the challenge.
"Don Jacobs is a street fighter. He won't be deterred," says Associate Dean Ed Wilson, who joined the school in 1972. "He saw potential in this place, things that others never even thought of dreaming. He wanted to make a difference."
The son of a baker on Chicago's West Side, Jacobs had served in the Navy as a 17-year-old before graduating from Roosevelt University in 1949. He went on to earn master's and doctoral degrees in economics at Columbia University, which he followed with a brief teaching stint at City Colleges of New York.
Jacobs was happy to return to the Chicago area in 1957, though the fact that he ended up at Northwestern was serendipitous. "I didn't want to raise a family in New York," he recalls. "Northwestern was the first school in Chicago that made me an offer." He joined the faculty as an assistant professor of finance.
Jacobs' prodigious research on banking and finance made him the logical choice to head the school's Banking Research Center, the first research center at Kellogg. It also resulted in prestigious appointments to the school's International Institute for Management in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, and to the National Bureau of Economic Research, for which he served as a research associate.
The government sought to tap Jacobs' expertise as well. He was a senior economist for the U.S. House of Representatives' Banking and Currency Committee in the early 1960s, and in 1970 he served as co-staff director of the Presidential Commission on Financial Structure and Regulation.
All the while, Jacobs continued to rise in stature at Northwestern. In 1969, he was named chairman of the management school's Finance Department. The following year, he was awarded the Morrison Chair in Finance. In addition to his research, he became increasingly active on the boards of numerous corporations, including Hartmarx Corp., First Chicago Corp. and Amtrak, for which he would serve as chairman in the late 1970s.
"It shouldn't be a big surprise to everyone what he's accomplished with the school," says Levy Venture Management chairman Joseph Levy '47, an advisory board member who has known Jacobs for several decades. "He's been successful with everything he's done, long before he became a dean."
A blueprint for change
Jacobs' vision in 1975 was a sweeping one. It would go far beyond upgrading the faculty and the facilities — it would require changes in the social fabric of the school, at every level of interaction.
"At the time, we knew we couldn't 'catch up' to Harvard, Wharton or Stanford," Greenbaum says. "We would have to redefine the game."
Thus began what is now known as the "Kellogg culture." Its fundamental tenet was teamwork in the pursuit of excellence — a far cry from the "sharp elbows" culture at most business schools.
This wasn't just change for change's sake. It was obvious to Jacobs and his team that the traditional business-school environment was out of sync with the way the world actually worked. Most business schools promoted competition in class, but they graduated managers who would be expected to work with — and through — people. The best managers weren't loners out for personal gain; they were those who brought out the best in their employees.
The business world also was becoming more competitive, and it was clear that business schools would do well to adopt that spirit. Accordingly, students at Kellogg and the organizations that hired them were to be regarded as customers. Therefore, the school would need to be highly responsive to their needs.
"Academic institutions were not in that mindset," notes Greenbaum. "I don't think a young person today can understand how radical that was back in the 1970s. There was an arrogance that pervaded the halls of academe. But it was a culture change that permitted Kellogg to compete in ways it never had before."
This new way of thinking entailed some significant shifts in the school's operation. For example, to keep pace with the rapid changes in the marketplace, the school's curriculum would need to be open to easy change and experimentation. The faculty would need to push the frontiers of knowledge in their fields, comfortably bridging disciplines and predicting new trends.
To encourage these intellectual paths, Jacobs envisioned a facility that would keep faculty in close contact with business leaders. It would also be a magnet for alumni and other executives seeking to expand their knowledge throughout their careers.
"I very much enjoyed being a professor, but I was concerned about the next generation of leadership," Jacobs said upon accepting his appointment as dean. "I've told the departments that if one were to characterize my regime, it should be entrepreneurial."
The words sounded simple, but anyone who knew Jacobs well understood the school was in for the ride of its life.
The Allen Center: If you build it, they will come
Jacobs promptly began working to bring his notion of an on-campus, world-class executive education center to life.
These were no small plans. The building would be something never before seen on a university campus: a monument to the ideal of lifelong learning, a physical bridge between the corporate and academic worlds.
There, the school's most senior faculty would share their knowledge with business practitioners from around the world. The participants, in turn, would keep the faculty current on the most salient management issues of the day.
The notion of education for mid-career managers was not a new one at Northwestern. Since 1951, the school had hosted a four-week "Institute for Management" twice a year. Executives stayed at Abbott Hall in Chicago with the faculty assigned to the session, and attended classes on the downtown campus.
Jacobs himself had taught in the program. The dynamic interchanges in the classroom had had a dramatic impact on the young professor, who'd never taken a management course before joining Northwestern.
"It changed the way I thought about educating managers," he recalls. "It gave me an exposure to senior executives. You've got to talk to them to understand the problems they're facing. Then you can ask, 'How can we help?'"
Jacobs envisioned a vast expansion of this program, which he also wanted to take one step further. Many mid-career managers, he knew, would welcome the chance to earn a valuable MBA without interrupting their careers. Accordingly, the school in 1976 introduced the Executive Master's Program, a two-year weekend program leading to the Master of Management degree. Participants attended classes in Leverone Hall and stayed at area hotels during the live-in session of the program.
Jacobs thought it would be better for these managers to live and learn on campus, experiencing the camaraderie of student life. The facility he imagined would be home to these degree-seeking students, as well as for potentially thousands more executives in shorter programs ranging from several days to several weeks in length.
Jacobs took his idea to then-University President Robert Strotz, whose reaction was something less that what Jacobs had hoped for.
"It'll never happen," Jacobs remembered being told.
Strotz and other university officials were convinced the center would not be financially viable. "They were certain it would revert to the university as a dorm," Jacobs says. And they weren't alone. Even some of the faculty had doubts about the plan.
Without financial support from the university, Jacobs began to look elsewhere for help. He turned to James Allen, head of the school's advisory council and a founding partner of Booz Allen and Hamilton, for aid in a vigorous fund-raising and public relations campaign.
Allen became a zealous supporter, donating a substantial portion of the $5.5 million needed to construct the facility and helping Jacobs raise the rest. He and other business leaders also helped persuade the university to provide land for the building and to approve the plans.
The James L. Allen center — named in recognition of Allen's efforts — opened in 1979. Within a year, the facility some had dismissed as "Jacobs' folly" was reaping $400,000 annually in profits.
The real windfall, however, was in the positive word-of-mouth it generated for the school. The handsome facility, career-boosting educational programs and stimulating exchanges with faculty and peers sent the school's reputation soaring among the thousands of executives passing through its doors.
Jacobs continued to build on this public relations coup. He nurtured the relationships born at the Allen Center, assembling an advisory board of more than 160 of the nation's top CEOs and corporate presidents. Many are now among the school's strongest supporters, and have become close personal friends and advisers to the dean as well.
The Allen Center, Jacobs concludes, "is a demonstration of what you can do if you're really anxious to do something and really excited about the job — and extraordinarily motivated."
It was far from the last time Jacobs would prove that to be true.
A $10 million boost
As the Allen Center was being completed, the school became the beneficiary of an unusually generous gesture of good will.
In early 1979, the John L. and Helen Kellogg Foundation announced it was donating $10 million to the school. In gratitude, the school renamed itself the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
In presenting the gift, the foundation made note of the school's ambitious plans to be "the absolute best," and noted that it appeared to be well on its way.
"The (school) has all the fundamentals in place: a brilliant young faculty, a select and highly motivated student body and outstanding classroom facilities," the foundation's board observed.
The money couldn't have come at a better time. It was clear to Jacobs and his team that to raise the school's profile, they'd need to enhance its research climate and hire more top-caliber faculty. The school also needed space on campus for students to do group work.
Accordingly, the $10 million was earmarked for three endowed professorships, two centers for interdisciplinary research, and the renovation of the dormitory that eventually became the McManus Living-Learning Center.
"Ten million doesn't seem like a lot of money right now, but it was an extraordinary amount at the time," Jacobs, noting that the gift, which has been invested, is now worth about $50 million. "It was a huge boost at a time when we needed to do big things." It also caused the press and the business world to sit up and take notice of the audacious school on Chicago's suburban North Shore.
By this time, the Chronicle of Higher Education had ranked Kellogg fifth nationally, after having placed the school 11th five years earlier. The climb to the top had begun.
Building the faculty
Underlying all Jacobs' other projects was perhaps his most important effort: the creation of a world-class faculty.
This endeavor wasn't going to be as hard a sell as the Allen Center. "This place was hungry," recalls Duncan, now Kellogg's Richard L. Thomas Professor of Leadership and Change. "We were young faculty, excited about the place, and we thought it was a lot better than its reputation. People were committed to the school and to making it better."
But getting there wasn't so simple. At the time, Kellogg's faculty were among the lowest-paid professors at Northwestern, and the university had not declared any intention to invest in the school.
Many on the faculty were young PhDs, trained in areas such as math, sociology, psychology and statistics. The challenge was to motivate them to go beyond their core disciplines and break new academic ground.
But where others saw obstacles, Jacobs recognized opportunity. Here was a chance to create a new faculty culture — one that thrived on cooperation and rewarded innovative thinking.
Newly recruited faculty members would not be assigned administrative responsibilities. Instead, the emphasis would be on joint research. Professors were to team with their counterparts in other departments to pursue new avenues of study.
Jacobs took particular interest in his young faculty members. To provide them with more time for research, he reduced their teaching load during their first three years at Kellogg. The school's first research chairs, which provided funding for research activities, also were earmarked for young faculty.
It all contributed to an environment in which young faculty were groomed and valued — and one to which they felt particular loyalty. Many of the young up-and-comers of the early Jacobs era have chosen to remain at Kellogg, rejecting other schools' efforts to woo them away as they gained national prominence.
At the same time, Jacobs raised the standards for promotion so that only the "best and the brightest," as Stern says, received tenure.
"People around campus would look at us and say, "There’s no one who reviews its faculty more rigorously,'" Stern says. "If someone at Kellogg gets tenure, you know they've made it. You know they're one of the top two or three people in their cohort."
The rising caliber of the faculty and the uniquely cooperative atmosphere at the school created a fertile ground for new areas of thought. For example, game theory — a fledgling field in the mid-1970s — took early root at Kellogg when Jacobs enticed some of the most promising young thinkers to the school.
"Don Jacobs is a great academic and he also has a wealth of insight," notes Duncan. "He's had a sense of some of the key management issues a pure academic might not have had."
This spirit was fully expressed in the approach to the curriculum. Jacobs saw to it that new courses could be introduced at Kellogg without bureaucratic hand-wringing. He took a similarly unorthodox tack toward improving the school's teaching reputation. He had students evaluate professors on their teaching performance, and posted the scores each quarter.
"The response from people outside Kellogg was one of horror," Jacobs recalls wryly. "In academic mores, it wasn’t appropriate." But Jacobs bet correctly that the faculty would be too proud to accept a low public ranking and would strive to improve.
He proved remarkably adept at fund-raising, with many of his campaigns far surpassing their original goals. For example, his three-year campaign in 1986 to raise $25 million ultimately netted more than $40 million — and made possible 18 new endowed chairs, nine research professorships, four research centers, 38 scholarship funds and much more.
"He simply went out and talked to everyone about who we were and what distinguished us and where we were going," Duncan says. "Kellogg didn't have a very strong brand name at the time, and he sought to change that."
The fund-raising gave nay-sayers one less reason to doubt Don Jacobs.
"His attitude has always been, 'Let's not argue or think about the problems; let's just do it,'" says Duncan. "His notion was, 'Don't worry about the resources. I'll make it happen.'
"He’s the ultimate optimist. If he stews about these things, he doesn't show it."
A new student body
The faculty wasn’t the only Kellogg group undergoing change. The student body was getting a makeover, too.
Rugged individualism was out; teams were emphatically in. Group work became the rule in most classes. The student population became congenial rather than competitive.
Harry Kraemer '79, now chairman and CEO of Baxter International Inc., witnessed much of the transformation firsthand.
"From the beginning, Don Jacobs was increasing the team focus," Kramer recalls. "He was saying, 'Let's have more joint projects, let's find room for students to get together.' He was even enlarging the student lounges so the necessary amount of interaction could take place."
To find students who would thrive in this dynamic new culture, the school took on the daunting task of interviewing every applicant before issuing an admissions decision. Human contact, Jacobs had decided, proved superior in identifying the students with the interpersonal skills to become effective managers.
The new policy made a significant difference in the type of managers the school produced. Kellogg graduates soon began to be distinguished by their ability to work with others — a trait cited repeatedly as an important part of the Kellogg brand.
"The kids who go to Kellogg are good team players," observes Miles. "They understand it's not one person who does everything in a company."
Jacobs' support for teamwork wasn't just lip service. Students, faculty, staff and alumni knew that Jacobs' door was always open to discuss their concerns. Jacobs made a point of being visible, appearing at student events and on-campus Friday evening socials. He even began hosting Thanksgiving dinner on campus for students unable to return home for the holiday, carving and serving turkey for hundreds of guests.
"The worst thing you can say to an administrator is, 'You're aloof. You're not there when I need you,'" says former Northwestern University President Arnold Weber. "You can't say that about Don Jacobs."
This openness has had an interesting impact on the administration of the school. Students wanted and expected to participate in the governance of Kellogg — and the school has welcomed their input. Indeed, student feedback is solicited and factored into almost every issue facing the school, from curriculum decisions to admissions policies.
"The partnership with students has vested them in this enterprise," says Wilson. "Where else do students matter? They didn't, 30 years ago."
"We're No. 1"
BusinessWeek, Nov. 28, 1988 — "Don Jacobs has raised eyebrows in academic circles for years. When he took over as dean of Northwestern's Graduate School of Management in 1975, he brashly declared that he wanted to push Northwestern to the very top of the business-school heap. Well, the doubters may take him a little more seriously now. According to a new BusinessWeek survey, Northwestern's J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Evanston, Ill., has the best MBA program in the country .…"
It was a moment few affiliated with the school will ever forget.
"Everyone was hugging each other," recalls Carole Cahill, assistant dean of administrative services. "The building was so much smaller back then, and the news spread really quickly. It was so exciting, it was almost scary. We were so elated, as if we had won the Super Bowl. And in a sense we had. We'd won the title."
The students were quickly called into Coon Auditorium for a congratulatory speech by Jacobs. Someone made a giant copy of the cover of the issue announcing the rankings. Champagne flowed at impromptu celebrations around campus.
"Everyone was on a big high," says Weber, who recalled the "excitement and exultation" at Northwestern as news of the ranking spread. "It was confirmation of Don's hard work. He'd taken Kellogg from an also-ran to one of the best schools in the country."
Students weren't the only ones thrilled by the news. "There was a lot of excitement, particularly among the alumni," says McManus. "I think we'd been suffering from something of an inferiority complex until then, especially with regard to some of the East Coast schools."
The impact was felt immediately. The admissions office added extra telephone lines and temporary workers to handle the sudden surge of inquiries and applications. More than 50 new companies requested an opportunity to interview students on campus.
Kellogg had come out on top over Harvard, Dartmouth, Wharton and Cornell. "People were kind of stunned, because Kellogg was not on the radar screen the way these other schools were," says Meyer Feldberg, now dean of Columbia University's business school and the first director of executive education at the Allen Center.
"It was a rank that had an enormous impact on the way the business world perceived education."
Kellogg would continue to hover near the pinnacle of the magazine's rankings, finishing in first place again in 1990 and 1992. Other publications tended to confirm Kellogg's ascent, placing the school at or near the top of their lists.
"All these ratings are spurious and erroneous, except when you're No.1," Weber says with a chuckle. "You can quarrel with the factors that go into it, but they do identify who's on top, who's in the middle and who's on bottom. The fact is, Kellogg has built its brand equity and really sustained it. It moved into the front ranks, and it has stayed there."
Kellogg's reputation in the U.S. was soaring. But long before the BusinessWeek rankings had appeared, Jacobs had even broader horizons in mind.
"It was clear the world was globalizing," he says. "If we wanted to be a great institution, we'd have to have a world-class reputation."
Geography, unfortunately, had dictated that Kellogg would have a harder time building this reputation than the schools on the coasts. "The Midwest was not a natural domicile for a world-class management institution," Jacob admits.
The student body in the mid-1970s reflected this regionalism. About half the school’s students hailed from the Midwest, and many remained in the heartland after graduation.
The school did have one international program, the annual, four-week International Institute for Management, which drew several dozen European executives each year. The program was well regarded, but Kellogg would need to cast its net more broadly to attain the international recognition it desired.
So when Toemsakdi Krishnamra of Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University asked Jacobs in the early 1980s whether Kellogg would team with Wharton to create a first-rate English-language business program in Bangkok, Jacobs jumped at the chance.
"It would give our faculty international teaching experience, and it would give us a presence on the Pacific Rim," Jacobs says. "It was a terrific opportunity."
The Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration welcomed its first class of full-time students in 1983. Seventeen years later, the program is still thriving, due in no small part to Jacobs' guidance, Krishnamra says.
"It would not be wrong to say that the Sasin program is in fact 'Dean Jacobs' program' in Thailand," Krishnamra says. "We in Thailand certainly had no experience running an MBA school, so he had to hold our hand and guide us all the way through. We are thankful he did so with grace and vigor."
Jacobs began fashioning an international perspective for Kellogg closer to home, as well.
A global internship program was launched to enable students to gain work experience overseas. The number of exchange programs with foreign universities began to multiply rapidly. The school began to keep closer track of its international graduates, as well as U.S.-based alumni with international responsibilities.
One of the strongest pillars in the school’s globalization strategy was erected in 1990, when a student group received permission to plan a study trip to the then-Soviet Union. Their journey marked the birth of the Global Initiatives in Management program, which within a few years would send hundreds of students overseas each year to research global business issues.
Kellogg's ascent in the U.S. rankings was also enhancing its international identity. At the same time, executive education — viewed with suspicion by university administrators just two decades earlier — had become a booming industry. Jacobs sought a way to capitalize on both those trends.
In 1995, he unveiled his plan to partner with a number of elite business schools overseas to create a network of international executive MBA programs. The first was to be launched with the Recanati Graduate School of Business in Tel Aviv, Israel.
"Kellogg wasn't an established brand name in that part of the world when this program started," says Israel Zang, then dean of Recanati and now a visiting professor at Kellogg. "Now, the name 'Kellogg' has a very strong reputation in the business community there."
Programs at the Koblenz School of Corporate Management in Germany and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology soon followed. Kellogg even helped get an MBA program at China's Beijing University off the ground in the late 1990s.
By the end of the decade, Jacobs was proudly touting Kellogg as "the school that never sleeps."
"At any moment, somewhere in the world, someone is working toward a Kellogg degree," Jacobs says.
Closer to home, the school's student body has mirrored this increasing internationalism. Kellogg, once the "unknown brand" even within its own country, attracted applicants from 90 countries in 1999. Fully half the student body has lived abroad, and one out of every three students in the class of 2001 holds a non-U.S. passport.
Now the school is immersed in one of its most ambitious plans ever — the creation of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India. The new school will provide a management education on a par with that offered by Kellogg and partner school Wharton, and will welcome its first class in June 2001. "The school will be an excellent conduit between the Eastern and Western perspectives of management education," says Dipak Jain, associate dean for academic affairs.
Here we grow again
Back home, Kellogg was threatening to burst its seams.
Leverone Hall, designed for 700 students and 80 professors, was by the 1990s home to 150 professors and more than 1,200 full-time students. Aging Wieboldt Hall on the Chicago campus was sorely in need of a facelift. And the Allen Center was running out of space to host everyone seeking enrollment in its programs.
The solution: to build, build and build again.
Construction crews began to appear every few years at the Allen Center, whose original 64 bedrooms soon seemed woefully insufficient. A new atrium and 36 new bedrooms were added in 1986 — but it soon became clear even these modifications wouldn't be enough. In 1993, Kellogg created an additional 57,000 square feet of space, providing the building with a total of 150 bedrooms as well as new classroom, office and reception space.
Even so, it wasn't long before the builders were at it again, enlarging the facility by another 11,000 square feet in 1998. The new dining room, 76-seat networked classroom and wider hallways were hardly a luxury. The number of executive programs had more than doubled between 1988 and 2000, and the list of corporate clients signing up for custom programs was growing longer too.
Wieboldt Hall, home of Kellogg's part-time evening program, was growing cramped as well. With 1,400 students, the Managers’ Program had more than doubled its enrollment since its inception in 1972. It also was time to bring the historic structure, built in 1926, into the 21st century.
The building had undergone several renovation projects, but none matched the scale of the $15 million overhaul in 1997. A year later, four new floors sparkled in a spacious new annex on the south side of the building, which boasted 14 new classrooms, 20 group-study rooms, administrative offices, a new entrance and a café. The entire building was also wired so that students could access their email and the Internet from anywhere within Wieboldt.
The school still wasn’t ready to put its hard hats away. Leverone Hall had also grown too cozy for comfort.
A 1994 renovation seemed to promise enough space to last the school well into the new millennium. The project had fused Leverone with Andersen Hall and created four classrooms, 20 study rooms, a café and a dramatic new atrium that soon became a magnet for the school’s full-time students.
But as with the Allen Center, it became evident that Kellogg would need even more elbow room. In 1999 the school broke ground again, this time on a six-story addition.
"Each time we do an expansion, we think, 'This'll do it,'" Jacobs says. "Then it turns out there's more demand to be filled. We were shocked when people started talking about being crowded after our last expansion. But the fact is, people come in the morning, hook up their laptops, stay all day and go home in the middle of the night. For people to be comfortable here, we do need more space."
The $20 million addition will run the length of the existing building's north side, creating a U-shaped structure around the Owen L. Coon Forum. The second floor will be used for student study space, while the third floor will be reserved for Northwestern's economics department. The fourth, fifth and sixth floors will house offices for Kellogg faculty and administrators.
Jacobs' frequent requests for space to accommodate Kellogg's growth have often been met with a bemused response from Northwestern administrators.
"I told him he wouldn't be satisfied until the Allen Center reached Lake Forest," Weber says wryly.
"We're land-poor. Northwestern's got 232 acres, and Kellogg already has prime space. All I'm saying is, there are limits."
The Jacobs legacy
Don Jacobs hasn't built a career on accepting limits.
In his quest to make Kellogg "the very best," Jacobs has challenged preconceptions at all levels — from how to grow a world-class faculty, to how to build a school's resources, to how to shape a successful manager.
Rather than accept precedent and reputation as absolute, he devised a new approach to management education. Instead of regarding students as passive consumers of information, he redefined them as co-creators of knowledge.
His vision, once questioned, has been widely emulated and now broadly accepted. It is based on cooperation, innovation and a continual pursuit of excellence. His ideas have been incorporated into the management of successful organizations all over the world.
Among his peers, Jacobs is often called the "dean of deans," a title earned as much for his achievements as for his tenure in the job. His 25 years represent not only the longest term of any business-school dean in recent history, but an unswerving will to make Kellogg the best in its class — and to transform the landscape of management education.
Such lofty accomplishments will sit well in the history books. But for many close to the school, they won't quite capture Jacobs' greatest legacy, and the heart of Kellogg's continuing success.
"Don Jacobs is not only an extraordinary builder of a great business school, but also the builder of a great community," says Northwestern University President Henry Bienen. "I never meet students or staff or faculty who aren't extremely enthusiastic about Kellogg. I think it's a very special place."