Healthcare costs are pretty much going to bankrupt the U.S. economy if they stay on their current trajectory. Wharton alumni could take a non-partisan, business-oriented approach to this challenge. At least it would be interesting to get the discussion going among alumni and to have some of our experts on health economics weigh in with the relevant facts.
What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?
Is it too utopian to suggest there's merit in a business plan or a non-profit pursuing a good housekeeping seal of approval-like business for consumer-oriented finance vendors (banks, credit cards, mortgages, etc). The seal being an indication that finance products are clear and easy to understand.
Second idea - can we create a nation wide financial literacy volunteer program? Occupy Wall Street has highlighted some of the gaps in understanding of basic tenets of finance? i.e., How a loan works, What is a loan, Why a budget is important
What might we develop as strategies for countries facing challenges around aging populations and poorly funded retirements/pensions? What can the combination of academic excellence at Wharton combined with the market expertise of alumni do to move the needle on this significant global issue?
An alien observing human life from afar might be puzzled by these weird financial institutions called "universities" that have inexplicable educational operations attached to them. What does it mean that Penn and the other Ivies amass huge fortunes and spend only 4 percent of them each year. One explanation is that they need big reserves to buffer business cycles. That might explain a billion or so. But, why do they need 10s of Billions. Doesn't hoarding cash imply that the institutions can not productively invest that cash? Stakeholders would take a very hard view on a company that hoarded so much cash and did not invest it productively. It is time for some clear economic reasoning to be applied to philanthropic capital and the financing of higher education.
Is the business community generally, and Wharton specifically, really going to let the debate on the economy be framed as class warfare? Many of us in the 1 percent are appalled at current economic policies. Virtually every elected official on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. is speaking gibberish about the economy. Issues of how we finance government and the role of tax policy in the economy are critical to our collective prosperity. We can take a leadership role in discussing these issues rationally without resorting to the hyperbole we're seeing in the media and among politicians.
Wharton can spark and support an economic renaissance in Philadelphia by helping inner city-based businesses flourish and by improving employment opportunities for inner city residents. Philadelphia has many strengths to capitalize on and needs to establish a sustainable economic base/strategy and with it employment opportunities, wealth creation, role models, and improved local infrastructure (inc. schools). Wharton can play a crucial role and its students, brand, and faculty have a lot to gain.
america's problems - cultural and financial - in large part stem from america's problematic infrastructure. americans drive long distances, causing environmental harm and - most importantly - further depleting resources. rising gas prices will only exacerbate the problem, increasing prices for consumer-commodities including food. meanwhile, investors continue to build new homes and businesses further from the epicenter of communities, especially in mid-america. any progress to build mixed-using or urban housing has been met w/ limited or mixed success. So, how can we incentivize citizens and - importantly for wharton - industry to contribute to the rejuvenattion of america through re-urbanization? how can we reverse the "white flight" of the 50s, making america a more live-able, sustainable, resource-efficient society?
What can we, as well educated executives, do to help those young people growing up in poverty to get out of the cycle of poverty? My wife and I recently spent 7 years mentoring a young African American woman in the inner city of Dallas. We are thrilled that she is the first in her family to graduate from high school but she is not prepared for college. Our mentor relationship was not enough.
For those of us working in New York and raising young families, the sad state of the public school system is clear. While we can send our kids to private schools and look the other way, it seems like some entrepreneurial thinking is in order. Is the charter school movement the answer, or something else?
Despite some reforms to the curricula of leading business schools, it's pretty much same-old, same-old. We know that Mckinsey delivers a "mini MBA" to it's consultants without business education in about 6 weeks. We also know that executive MBA students can learn effectively the MBA curriculum at Wharton with a part-time investment of about 20 hours per week. So, are we missing an opportunity with the full-time MBA program to either dramatically increase its efficiency or to enhance its benefits?
Entrepreneurship is back in vogue. Almost 10% of the WG '11 class decided to start their own company after Wharton. Although Wharton has a strong legacy and track record in entrepreneurship, it is not something that we publicize well and the resources for Wharton entrepreneurs are not in place as efficiently and they should. We need to find ways to help alumni entrepreneurs connect, promote our companies, provide resources and mentoring to alumni and student entrepreneurs, etc, in order to continue to build our brand and help our alumni that decide to venture on their own.
What if Wharton were to champion one or more of the Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations?
If we set a long-view goal - say, 10 years - and bring the resources of our school and network to bear on the target, including classwork, volunteerism, GCP-related work, and general business development, meaningful positive, sustainable change can happen, and be a boon to the participants, the school's reputation, and of course the affected parties.
Arguably the most pressing societal challenge today is the threat to the natural environment. Humans have been on the planet for a blink of the eye, and we aren't likely to last much longer at the rate we are destroying our ecosystems and consuming our resources. Here's the question: Is there any historical precedent for a society marshalling the will to take actions that will hurt the current generation but benefit future generations? I'm not optimistic...but I'd be very interested in some historical perspective.
How to both contribute and benefit from the amazing alumni network Wharton has.
How and when to take the call of a fellow Whartonite.
How to ask for a referral or advice from a fellow alumni.
Tools to keep in contact with classmates - official social network groups by Wharton.
Okay, yes, there are probably some of us alumni who aren't the best apples, but many of us do believe in doing for the societal good. The Wharton alumni network should at least discuss launching a world-wide initiative to increase the number of Wharton alumni committed to and providing their talent/resources to non-profits and social ventures, not just reporting on it as if it were an anomaly. We can impact our society in many different and individual ways; we won't have to decide on one cause or another; and this will ultimately help lift the Wharton brand!