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Experiential Learning: A Continuing Priority

Having to choose which events to highlight during a year of extraordinary achievement is difficult. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share a few experiences I had with students that made an impact on my life — and, hopefully, on theirs. The three events involved experiential learning, and perhaps that’s what made them most rewarding for me.

Studying Climate Change in Antarctica

Following fall quarter, I was fortunate to participate in one of the 20 trips organized by students as part of their global study requirement. This year’s global study and social innovation teams brought 600 students to 23 countries and organized more than 300 meetings. Our group of 36 students, faculty, and alumni traveled to Antarctica and brought with us scientists and global climate experts who delivered insights at every port. It was an enlightening, yet sobering experience, and anyone who doubts global warming is a real threat to our people and planet should take that trip. When we think about changing lives, organizations, and the world, I realize the importance of these trips in providing life-changing lessons to students so they can better understand themselves and the world.

Challenging Future Business Leaders

Our annual Executive Challenge in December brought nearly 200 alumni to the Knight Management Center for a full day of boardroom presentations, feedback sessions, and student-alumni networking featuring nearly 400 first-year MBA students who were completing their Leadership Labs course. I felt privileged to take part in several cases and was so proud of the students’ ability to present their case, field questions, and pivot their positions based on feedback from alumni who served as tough, but kind “board members.” I want to offer my sincere thanks to our students, faculty, staff, and particularly our alumni who gave their time to the school and advice to our students.

Dreaming Big at Stanford GSB

I had a small part in the GSB Show, in which the storyline revolved around “Derrick (Bolton) and the Dream Factory” — a parody of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was moved by the students’ portrayal of the school as a place where people can make their dreams come true. The title was an apt metaphor for Stanford GSB, but perhaps “dream farm” would have been a more appropriate moniker than “dream factory!”

Here we have encouraged our students to dream and instilled in them the confidence to pursue those dreams. We have surrounded them with classmates who can help them nurture those dreams, and we have provided them with an education that gives students the knowledge and insight to guide their personal and professional quests.