It was a night to remember a defining moment that impacted the lives of many in both Russia and the United States.
About 80 people gathered for a celebration in Moscow hosted by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business to mark the 25th anniversary of the school’s involvement in Russia. Most of the crowd was alumni who graduated from Fuqua or other Duke programs, and there were a number who completed the Duke Program for Manager Development in Russia—an initiative that began Fuqua’s engagement in the region in 1989.
Jeffrey Sexton, minister counselor for public affairs for the U.S. embassy in Russia, welcomed the group stating the “Achievements of the Fuqua School of Business highlight something that I think cannot be stressed enough—the importance of education and cultural exchange in building bridges between the United States and Russia.” He went on to say, “This is exactly what the Fuqua School of Business has been doing for the past 25 years.”
The school’s namesake, J.B. Fuqua, and the dean at that time, Tom Keller, orchestrated the launch of the program for Russian managers. When recalling the plans they laid in 1989, Keller told the crowd, “This literally was the beginning of The Fuqua School of Business even considering being an international player. We’d not even thought about the subject until J.B. brought this up, but it became natural once you got involved in an international program you saw what you could do, the impact you could have, and the importance of getting to know the rest of the world.”
Guests socialized and dined while being treated to presentations about Fuqua’s current involvement in Russia and the CIS from Regional Director, Daria Zarubina, and a talk from Dean Bill Boulding that echoed Keller’s sentiments about the program for Russian managers.
“This was the turning point for the university where we decided that if you wanted to be a great business school you had to be a great global business school, and so we went out into the world to build connections to places in the world that are, and would be, critical to the global economy, “ Boulding said.
He went on to tell the guests from the program for Russian managers, “You started something of fundamental importance for the school that has lasted over the ensuing 25 years.”
Lee Sparkman, a Duke MBA graduate from 1980 and current member of the Fuqua’s Russia/CIS Regional Advisory Board, told the crowd that his current and former colleagues who had been through the program for Russian managers “turned out to be some of the most innovative, hard-working and ingenious people that I’ve ever worked with in my life.”
Sparkman also gave a nod to the man and the idea that started it all. “I ask that everyone here raise their glass and toast to J.B. Fuqua and the very bold decision that he made 25 years ago.“
In his closing remarks, Boulding reflected on the past and the future, remarking, “The reason we’re here today is not so much to celebrate what happened 25 years ago—which is important—but to celebrate the next 25 years and the next 25 years after that. Which is to say, that we must continue to have a commitment to this part of the world which is so important to our present and to our future.”