On December 14, 2009, Kelley held a ceremony to dedicate a new sculpture in the forum of our graduate education building. The statue is a pair of hands applauding. If you haven’t spent time on our campus, this may seem like an odd piece of artwork. But this statue commemorates an important Kelley tradition and an important aspect of the school’s culture.
Walt Blacconiere, a beloved professor of accounting at Kelley passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2007. A gifted teacher with a deep appreciation for student-faculty interaction, Walt was known for ending his classes with a round of applause. The clapping expressed his appreciation for the learning that had taken place that day and for the students’ efforts to grow intellectually. Students would inevitably applaud as well, in recognition of Walt’s obvious devotion to their learning and to truly excellent teaching.
After Walt’s death, MBA students and faculty adopted the clapping tradition at the end of each class. It was a way not only to remember Walt, but also to recognize the effort that both faculty and students put into teaching and learning. The clapping continues, even though the current MBA students only know of Walt by reputation.
This statue is not only our way of remembering Walt Blacconiere, it is also a physical reminder of one of Kelley’s most central qualities. Kelley is a collegial place. Faculty and staff, students and visitors alike will tell you that Kelley is a place where collegiality and intellectual rigor both flourish.
We believe that learning is an exchange and a struggle. Students learn from the professors, but professors also learn. In every classroom, every day, growth and progress is made by all involved. Everyone gains from these exchanges, whether a tenured professor or a first-year MBA student. And that deserves a round of applause.