Looking for Hyde Park in London

London, Hyde Park

Most travelers know there’s a Hyde Park in London; it’s the former hunting grounds of King Henry VIII and the modern city’s 350-acre green lung. But on a recent visit to London, I might have been the only person looking for signs of Chicago’s Hyde Park there.

En route to the Woolgate Exchange building—home to the European campus of the Booth School of Business—the biting wind and gray sky were reminiscent of a May day in Chicago. Tucked away on side streets near the drab cement canyon of banks and office blocks were some real (rather than Collegiate) Gothic buildings, including at least one with gargoyles.

Chicago Booth occupies a light-filled, modern space that evokes the Harper and Gleacher centers, in the heart of the City of London financial district. Students in the executive MBA program were off for the week, and the evening’s networking event hadn’t begun, so the empty classrooms and vacant lounges gave the place a bit of a ghostly feel.

London, Nobels wall

Is the global economic crisis affecting enrollment in executive programs? “Actually, I’ve been surprised at how well we’ve done,” said Arnold Longboy, MBA’08, director of Chicago Booth’s executive education and student recruitment for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The number of inquiries about nondegree and degree programs is comparable to last year at this time, he said. “People tell me, ‘I’m working on fewer deals now, so I have more time for personal development.’”

Chicago Booth’s London-based MBA program draws about 90 students annually, two-thirds of whom receive some funding from their employers. For one week each month, about three-quarters fly in for classes, some from as far away as South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Some 43 countries will be represented in the class beginning in June, said Longboy, and a near-record 24 percent will be women.

One of the program’s biggest selling points, he added, is that it connects students to the University of Chicago in a broad sense. Events featuring visiting faculty from Chicago Booth and other departments have drawn well. In April alumni and students turned out to meet Laura Letinsky, professor and chair of visual arts, and attend the London opening of Likeness, her latest photography exhibit. Dean of Humanities Martha T. Roth will be in town in July to give a talk about Hammurabi’s code.

London, Hyde Park

“We invite the whole University of Chicago community to events,” said Longboy, although “whenever the faculty make references to Hyde Park—meaning the campus—we do have to remind them that there’s a Hyde Park in London.”

Elizabeth Station

Chicago Booth was the first and only U.S. business school with permanent campuses on three continents: Asia, Europe, and North America. The Chicago Booth campus in London is located in the financial district. The Woolgate Exchange, a modern office building, is close to the Bank of England; The Nobel Wall on the London campus honors the achievements of some of the University's greatest minds; Between classes students can enjoy the calm of the pleasant lounge, chat with classmates, or perhaps check in with colleagues back at the office or the family at home during a break.



May 21, 2009