An Open Letter to Mary Dempsey

By Kate Smith ’98, dean of admissions

Dear Ms. Dempsey,

I saw a Twitter post today that shared a letter you received in 1965 when you applied to the MBA program at Northwestern University, and were denied because no women were being admitted to the program at that time. I’m compelled to reach out to you today, as both Kellogg’s dean of admissions and as a woman who graduated from Kellogg.

Recognizing the profound impact that a Kellogg education had on me and my career, it deeply saddens me to learn that you were not afforded the same opportunities. If it were in my power to go back in time and change the decision that was made, I would do so in a heartbeat. I wish I could.

What I can tell you is that Kellogg has come a long way in the last 50 years. In 1966, one year after you applied, women were formally welcomed to apply to the Full-Time MBA program at Kellogg. And today, our 2020 Full-Time MBA Class comprises 46% women — the highest-ever percentage for a Kellogg class. We’ve been able to achieve this by fully committing to women’s leadership development. I’m proud to say we were the first top-ranked business school to name a female dean with the appointment of Sally Blount in 2010. And in August, we’ll be thrilled to welcome our next female dean, Francesca Cornelli.

When I look at our current students, I see a diverse group of women and men from many different backgrounds, all dedicated to supporting each other and helping each other succeed. It is this distinct culture that makes the 2019 version of Kellogg such a special place.

While I know there is still much more work to be done for gender equality, I am grateful to have the chance to pause and reflect upon stories like yours. It inspires me and the entire Kellogg Admissions team to do all that we can to help the next generation of female business leaders learn, grow, and thrive not only in their careers, but also in their lives. Thank you, Mary.

Sincerely,

Kate Smith, ’98