Kurt Lammon (MSIA ’93) hadn’t seen some of his business school classmates for two decades before he rounded them up for the Tepper School of Business Alumni Reunion Weekend. But there was no awkward small talk among the 49 alumni who formed the school’s largest-ever 20-year class reunion. Instead Lammon and his former classmates stayed up half the night reminiscing about classes and favorite professors and catching up on their careers and lives.
“It was amazing how those relationships sparked immediately,” said Lammon, president of Urethane Supply Company, an Alabama auto supply manufacture, and the organizer of his class reunion. “It was like I had seen them last month.”
The April 19-20 reunion drew 302 alumni — one of four records set during an event-packed weekend capped by a Saturday evening party at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. At the elegant event, alumni, guests and students mingled after walking through rows of spring flowers and an Indian tropical forest.
This year’s reunion was the Tepper School’s largest ever. In addition to record-setting attendance in the Class of 1993, the weekend also boasted the largest first-year turnout (48 from the Class of 2012) and the largest single class attendance (65 from the Class of 2003).
“You could just sense the energy in the air,” said John Sengenberger, executive director of alumni relations of the Tepper School. “There was so much excitement about the school and reconnecting. People were saying, ‘It’s like we never left.’”
Mindy Doerr (MBA ’03) stayed up late reconnecting with classmates. During the all-class party at Phipps, she was charmed to meet a member of the Graduate School of Industrial Administration Class of 1963 who was carrying around yellowed copies of his photo roster. “His book was so much smaller than mine. It had three or four pages,” said Doerr, a management consultant at Accenture in Detroit.
Alumni also enjoyed presentations from Tepper School professors on Saturday. Allan Meltzer, The Allan H. Meltzer University Professor of Political Economy, gave a talk titled “Why Capitalism?.” Dean Robert M. Dammon, professor of financial economics, delivered a lunchtime address on the state of the Tepper School. Jay Apt, professor of technology and executive director of Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center, talked about energy trends. Anita Williams Woolley, assistant professor of organizational behavior and theory, explored the idea of collective intelligence in human groups, while Jeffrey Galak, assistant professor of marketing, talked about the unfortunate tendency among people not to be content with the things they have. Jeffrey R. Williams, professor of business strategy, gave a talk called “Mastering Your 70 Percent Zone” about an organization’s ability to regenerate.
The presentations re-energized Doerr. “When you are a student at Carnegie Mellon, you are exposed to so many new ideas and so much cutting-edge research,” she said. “You try to absorb it as much as you can. You study all the time. You leave and you go out into the world. When you come back for the reunion, you get exposure to the big ideas and innovative thinking again. It is very inspiring.”
Felix Amoruwa (MBA ’12) was one of nine alumni on a panel called “Work Your Network.” Amoruwa, SOA Technical Product Manager at Kaiser Permanente in the San Francisco Bay area, told students to network by taking advantage of treks and other opportunities at the Tepper School and Carnegie Mellon University. “I wouldn’t have been able to secure the job I have now without networking. Leveraging the Tepper network is important as far as planning your next career,” he said.
Keenan Bowens (MBA ’08), a program analyst for the NASA independent verification and validation program in Fairmont, W. Va., said it was fun to see how people had transformed their careers. As a student, he remembered alumni telling him how the rigors of getting a Tepper degree would make him really prepared for the work world. “You never really know what that means until you see it for yourself,” he said.
Lammon had a memento to take home. The fellow reunion attendees from the class of 1993 snuck into his hotel room and left a thank-you gift -- a poster-sized photo of the entire class. “It was really touching,” he said.
As they left Pittsburgh after reunion weekend, the Class of 2003 was already talking about coming back for their 15-year reunion in 2018.
For Lammon, the strong bond comes from sharing the intense experiences and tremendous growth that happens at the Tepper School.
“I learned a lot at Tepper,” Lammon said. “I use much of it on my job every day.”
"When you apply to the Tepper School, you know you are signing up for an enormous amount of work. It will take over your life for two years. I think that's why the relationships were still fresh 20 years later.”