Not long after he became dean in 1995, Stuart Greenbaum decided to host a barbecue for the entire Olin community during the first week of classes.
“I wanted to introduce myself and begin to build an active community of caring and trust,” recalls Greenbaum. It was a great opportunity for the new dean to meet and greet students and for everyone to celebrate the beginning of the academic year.
“That first cookout was a success. Everyone enjoyed it. I didn’t sign a contract at the time, but it was obvious then that this would become an annual event,” Greenbaum said. Twenty years later, the Annual Cookout has become a tradition that has grown in size each year.
“I came from Northwestern’s Kellogg School and this type of event was quite common. It really helps build a sense of community and family,” said Greenbaum. “‘A community of caring’ is what I called the culture we were trying to build at Olin. I tried very hard to have faculty and key staff do the serving and we still do that. Mahendra has stayed true to that model.”
Notes from the 2002 Cookout Recap Report show that the event has steadily grown in popularity: “We ran out of lemonade, again, and ice. It tastes too good! Better increase quantity by 25 gallons. We also ran out of cake.” The organizers had apparently underestimated for the crowd of 650 attendees who showed up.
“I don’t know how many people came to the first cookout in 1995,” said Greenbaum. “But it did build in volume with more and more people every year. I think all the business school students started to invite their friends from other schools. But our population at Olin has also grown.”
In recent years, the Cookout has attracted well over 1,000 students, faculty, and staff. Today’s Welcome Cookout, which includes a Diversity and Inclusion Expo, is a celebration of Olin’s diversity, Centennial, and a nod toward the community traditions that pull the Olin and WashU community closer together.
Check out the gallery below showing Welcome Cookouts from the first in 1995 to 2015.
Photos courtesy of Jerry Naunheim.Read more stories