“To thy happy children of the future, those of the past send greeting.” These are the words inscribed at the base of the Alma Mater statue that greets visitors on the Northwest Corner of Campus. One of the most famous university landmarks, the alma mater calls on the tradition and history of the past to guide and shape the future.

 

As business students, our past begins with David Kinley. David Kinley is a name that most of us recognize as DKH, David Kinley Hall or the 4th Floor. But David Kinley is more than a name on a building, he was a man that helped shape our future.

 

In 1902, as head of the Department of Economics, David introduced the first courses in business administration. In 1914, at the strong urging of Kinley, the University Senate approved the formation of the College of Commerce and Business Administration. During his time, David Kinley made significant contributions to the university, including serving ten years as University president and working hard to expand the universities business and economics education.

 

Forward to the future. On our first day of orientation, Dean Miller shared with us the list of incredible accomplishments of our classmates. The many achievements let us know that this was no group of ordinary people.

 

As classes began, we learned more than just credentials; we learned that our classmates were fathers, mothers, business owners, athletes, scholars, dancers, singers, and military veterans from a variety of countries. We also learned that we were now part of a global community. When we watched the 2004 Summer Olympics, we kept our eyes out for the athletes from Kazakhstan. We started eating fewer Subway Sandwiches and more Thai Fried Rice. When we listened to the world news, we were already aware that it was Georgia the country, not the state.

 

Over one hundred years ago, David Kinley took steps that would transform our future—and not just in terms of education. He also established a college that would empower, us, the Class of 2005, to expand our knowledge and expand our world.  How we will contribute to the universities legacy is still to be determined. Perhaps when we return for our 30th class reunion, we will find students taking classes in Brian Van Oterloo Auditorium and receiving their degree from the Sascha Knudgen College of Business. The possibilities of the future are now ours to shape.

 

As graduate students, we are called to carry on the legacy of the University of Illinois, a legacy that has existed for almost 150 years. Now, as alumni, we are called to go out and live the mission and purpose of the university—guiding others to higher paths of knowledge and wisdom. It is now our duty to extend the helping hand to those who will follow in our footsteps. We must continue the legacy of this great institution and live up to its ideals of knowledge, leadership and social service. To be merely known as a top MBA program would be unworthy of our time and efforts. Instead, let us also be known as an MBA program that focuses on character, leadership and strong ethical value—in the boardroom and beyond. Now as alumni, we must welcome the students of the future and prepare them a seat at the feet of the alma mater.