Columbia Business School held its 33rd Annual Dinner on May 4 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. The dinner, which was attended by more than 800 alumni, students and friends of the School, included remarks by Board of Overseers member Paul Calello ’87, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and Bruce Greenwald, the Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management and director of the Heilbrunn Center for Graham & Dodd Investing.
The dinner honored Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, and Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J., for their leadership in private and public sectors.
In addition to bringing together leaders from myriad sectors and industries, the dinner surpassed its fundraising goal by generating $2.7 million. There was record participation from the Board of Overseers and an increase in new donors, who accounted for almost 30 percent of the event’s sponsors.
The success of the year’s event underscored the sense of community among the alumni and friends of the School. Dean Glenn Hubbard said that the tradition of community stretched back to the first Annual Dinner, which was established 33 years ago by the late Boris “Bob” Yavitz, PhD ’64, the Paul Garrett Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Business Responsibility and dean of the School from 1975 to 1982.
“[Yavitz] understood that our ability to convene alumni, corporate partners, faculty and friends — as well as business and government luminaries — makes this event one that engages our community even as it provides the School with millions of dollars in unrestricted funds that have enabled us to capture opportunity as it arises,” Hubbard said.
The dean reiterated the School’s commitment to developing well-rounded leaders through the School’s mission of bridging theory and real-world business practice.
“The work of value-investing pioneers Ben Graham and David Dodd, one a practitioner and one a professor, is the very sort of bridge that happens — and can best happen — at Columbia Business School,” Hubbard said.
“In many ways,” he continued, “this is what Mayor Booker and Meg Whitman demonstrate in their careers.”
Whitman, who is seeking the Republican nomination for California governor in 2010, discussed her experience at eBay and offered a few ideas that she said were key to the company’s success under her leadership. Those ideas included focusing on what you do best, surrounding yourself with talented people and being courageous enough to take calculated risks.
“The price of inaction is greater than making a mistake,” she said.
Mayor Booker, commended for his leadership in public service, received a standing ovation for his remark, which were a call to action for value-based leadership.
“We must answer to the call of courage in our own way,” he said. “It falls on us to do something in this century that we will be remembered for.”