Top Business School Names Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

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Glen Senk, Mary Tolan and Kathryn Mikelis were each named distinguished alumnus of the Chicago Booth Business School.

Glen Senk, chief executive of Urban Outfitters, was named the distinguished corporate alumnus of 2010 by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (

Mary Tolan, chief executive of Accretive Health was named the distinguished entrepreneurial alumnus, while Jack Markell, governor of Delaware was named distinguished alumnus in the public sector and Kathryn Mikelis, executive vice president and chief financial officer of UAL Corporation, was named distinguished young alumnus of the year.

They will receive their awards at the annual Chicago Booth alumni celebration dinner Friday, October 1 at the Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus Drive, Chicago.

The winners were selected by groups of alumni in Chicago, New York, Hong Kong, London and Mumbai. Nominations were sought from the school's 44,000 alumni.

Senk was chosen as the distinguished corporate alumnus for professional achievement of the highest caliber in the management of a for-profit organization, the school said.

After earning his M.B.A. in 1980, Senk joined Bloomingdale's as an assistant buyer. Seven years after he arrived at retailer, he was named senior vice president and managing director of Bloomingdale's by Mail.

Senk took progressively challenging roles in retail, from London-based Habitat to Williams-Sonoma, where he set the strategy and groundwork for Pottery Barn's rapid expansion and sales growth.

As he was preparing to launch his own firm in 1993, he met the founder of Urban Outfitters and soon agreed to table his own plans and instead lead the Anthropologie brand, turning the single-store prototype into a billion-dollar-plus retail operation with sales over $650 million by 2007.

In May 2007, Senk was promoted to chief executive of Urban Outfitters, Inc., which includes the brands Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Free People. The 2008, the firm launched Leifsdottir and introduced Terrain. Despite the challenging economic environment, the firm saw total company sales for the first quarter of 2010 increase 25 percent over the first quarter of 2009.

Tolan, a 1992 graduate of the Chicago Booth Executive M.B.A. Program, was named the distinguished entrepreneurial alumnus. She began her career at Accenture where, as group chief executive of the resources operating group, she launched the meter-to-cash revenue business for the global power industry.

It was only a matter of time before she leveraged her decades of business-building knowledge, and her passion for entrepreneurship, sparked by courses at Chicago Booth, to create a new company. In 2003, Tolan founded Accretive Health, which manages the revenue process for health care providers.

By 2009, Accretive had $510.2 million in revenue. In May 2010, Tolan's firm completed a successful initial public offering of stock, which valued the company at $1.3 billion.

Markell, winner of the distinguished alumnus in the public sector or public service, was a banker at First Chicago when he entered the Chicago Booth Evening M.B.A. Program. After graduating in 1985, he put his M.B.A. to work as a consultant at McKinsey, an executive at Comcast, and as an entrepreneur as the 13th employee at Nextel - a company whose name he coined and whose business development efforts he led.

Markell left the private sector after being elected Delaware's state treasurer, a position he was re-elected to twice. When he was sworn in as Governor in 2009, he inherited a record budget shortfall, rapidly rising unemployment, and a stagnant economy. Since then, he has balanced two budgets, helped open shuttered manufacturing facilities, won President Obama'a Race to the Top competition for progress in public school reform, and signed new laws to drive improvements in the economy, environment, and education.

Mikells, the distinguished young alumni award winner, spent six years in financial services at GE Capital and other firms before joining UAL Corporation. She started as a financial analyst in 1994, as she was completing her M.B.A. and moved up through the ranks.

When United filed for bankruptcy in 2002, Mikells played a key role coordinating the case, ensuring the company was well positioned to exit in 2006. A year later, as head of investor relations, she positioned United to the business community.

In 2008, Mikells was named chief financial officer and, in 2009, also was appointed executive vice president.

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business is one of the leading business schools in the world. The school's faculty includes many renowned scholars and its graduates include many business leaders across the U.S. and worldwide.

The Chicago Approach to Management Education is distinguished by how it leverages fundamental knowledge, its rigor, and its practical application to business challenges.

Chicago Booth offers a full-time M.B.A. program, an evening M.B.A. program, a weekend M.B.A. program, and an executive M.B.A. program in Chicago, London and Singapore. The school also offers a Ph.D. program, open enrollment executive education, and custom corporate education.

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