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Celebrating a Parade of Firsts with 50th Anniversary of The Consortium

By Wisconsin School of Business

June 8, 2016

Wisconsin School of Business is one of the founding schools of organization created to promote diversity in business education and corporate management

It began with 21 students in 1966 and has since grown into an organization with 8,500 alumni, 18 member schools offering top-tier MBA programs, and more than 80 corporate partners. And the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin–Madison was there from the beginning.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and its mission to enhance diversity in business education and management careers in the United States. The Wisconsin School of Business was one of the three business schools that founded The Consortium, with 8 percent of all Consortium alumni holding a Wisconsin MBA degree.

“Fifty years ago, Erwin Gaumnitz, dean of the Wisconsin School of Business, had the foresight to help start The Consortium and create a powerful partnership designed to change the face of business in America,” says François Ortalo-Magné, Albert O. Nicholas Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business. “As a result, today we are able to celebrate the achievements of nearly 700 students who graduated from The Consortium with a Wisconsin MBA and put their skills and talents to work for top employers.

“Our role as a founding member of The Consortium has put us at the forefront of an ongoing national conversation with employers and other business schools about what it takes to recruit, develop, and retain a diverse workforce. And it reflects our commitment to preparing students who have the right business tools and skills needed to be part of diverse and inclusive work teams.”

In 1966 during the civil rights movement, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Washington University in St. Louis, and Indiana University–Bloomington joined The Consortium as the first member schools, and the business schools together welcomed an initial class of 21 African-American men, with six of those students entering the Wisconsin MBA Program. In 1970, The Consortium expanded its mission to include other underrepresented groups in business—women, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans.

The Consortium’s 50th anniversary commemorative book, “Leading the Challenge of Change” highlights the early contributions of the Wisconsin School of Business, celebrating a parade of firsts:

  • First Consortium graduate—Larry Harris was in the first class of Consortium recruits and received his Wisconsin MBA in 18 months from the Wisconsin School of Business, becoming the first Consortium graduate and going on to a successful 32-year career with the Upjohn Company.
  • First woman graduate—in 1970, Sandra Washington Jones of the Wisconsin School of Business became the first Consortium alumna, receiving her Wisconsin MBA in 1972.
  • First Native American graduate—In 1972, the Wisconsin School of Business admitted Bernard Vigue in the Wisconsin MBA Program. A member of the Menominee Indian tribe, he became the first Native American Consortium graduate.
  • One of first four Hispanic-American graduates—Frank Gutierrez received his Wisconsin MBA in 1972, as one of the first four Hispanic Americans to enter The Consortium.

“As a board member of The Consortium, I’m proud of the fact that Wisconsin was part of the creation of this important initiative,” says Blair Sanford, assistant dean of the Wisconsin Full-Time MBA Program. “It has helped us build and maintain strong relationships with recruiters and companies that seek a diverse pool of talent. It has also made us a better school, where all students are benefitting from being in a learning environment where there is a diversity of experiences and backgrounds.”

The Wisconsin School of Business will celebrate the special milestone anniversary through November. On November 10, Consortium alumnus Aaron S. Williams (Wisconsin MBA 1973), currently executive vice president at RTI International and former director of the Peace Corps under President Obama during his first term, will speak as part of the M. Keith Weikel Leadership Speaker Series at the Wisconsin School of Business. On November 12, there will be a Consortium Alumni Reunion following the Homecoming football game.