This year, the economic downturn affected the Johnson School as it has everyone. We have faced substantial challenges in budget and job placement. Nevertheless, I am happy to report that overall we have had a successful year, and we are focused on moving forward with the next phase of the school's development.
Strategic plan. We developed our new strategic plan based on thoughtful input from over one thousand Johnson School alumni, students, faculty, staff, corporate partners, and friends. This information supports our broad strategy of being a school of general management that develops students to their full potential through performance learning, cutting-edge research, an intense collaborative community, and Cornell connections.
Six new initiatives. Many constituents who helped inform the strategic plan are now participating in task forces to develop and implement activities in each of six initiatives: program innovation, global education, thought leadership, alumni engagement, deepening connections to business, and financial support. We have already made progress on several, for example, by hiring outstanding new global faculty, launching a new research Web site, and demonstrating thought leadership in the Cornell Global Forum on Sustainable Enterprise. See our Web site for more details.
Challenges and opportunities. We are forging ahead in many areas, but some goals will take longer to achieve due to financial restrictions; our endowment payout is down, and we have trimmed budgets. However, even in this difficult year our alumni came through, and annual fund giving was extraordinary—second only to fiscal year 2007-2008. The employment statistics, reported on page 20, show how difficult today's job market is. We are still looking for jobs for graduates, and we've stepped up career services for alumni. We are grateful to the many alumni who responded when we asked them to post job openings and to offer our graduates consulting projects through our MBA Project Initiative. Their actions and involvement prove that the collaborative quality of our community remains intact and invaluable long after graduation.
Student distinctions. This year, students distinguished themselves in many ways: several teams brought home awards from case competitions; Cayuga Fund managers posted a positive return for 2008, outperforming benchmark indices; one group launched BR MicroCapital, a new, student-run lending and advisory effort. Incoming classes in all four MBA programs are outstanding. Our EMBA programs are posting another record year, welcoming 73 students to the New York City area program and 126 to the Cornell-Queen's Executive MBA program. When the AACSB reaccredited the Johnson School this year, the deans from top schools were very complimentary, remarking that they were "impressed with the dramatic improvement of applicant selectivity and yield."
Faculty excellence. Faculty achievements continue to make us proud. Five Johnson School faculty were named to lists of the most prolific authors in accounting and finance. Vishal Gaur, Bob Jarrow, and Maureen O'Hara all received prestigious best-paper awards; Bob Jarrow, Robert Frank, and Elena Iankova published new books; and Vithala Rao and Bob Jarrow received lifetime achievement awards.
Many new developments are in the works as we continue to implement our new strategic plan. Stay tuned—we'll be reporting on those throughout the coming year.
L. Joseph Thomas
Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean