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Profile: Dennis Kass

Dennis Kass, SM ’77Dennis Kass, SM ’77
Chairman, Jennison Associates

An important part of Dennis Kass’s personal philosophy is the idea of giving back to the places and people who have given so much to him. “If you have been privileged to enjoy great opportunities and to grow personally and professionally because of the people and institutions that invested in you, you have an obligation to return their munificence with some of your own,” says Kass. “I view the act of giving back as one of the most rewarding life experiences a person can have.”

And Kass certainly sees MIT Sloan as one of the important places in his life.

“I received an extremely valuable education at MIT Sloan. It most certainly opened doors of opportunity and helped prepare me for the professional challenges I’ve faced,” says Kass. “In appreciation, I am committed to contribute to MIT Sloan for the benefit of current and future students, and also for the continued improvement of the finest graduate school of management education in the world.”

But Kass’s relationship with MIT Sloan goes even deeper than appreciation. His gratitude is augmented by his belief in, and commitment to, the School’s mission.

“I don’t know of a more compelling mission statement in higher education,” says Kass. “I believe the School takes the mission very much to heart as evidenced by its standards, ambitions, and focus. There is tremendous incentive to put one’s own shoulder to the wheel to aid and financially support institutions that champion and exemplify the very highest ideals within their spheres of activity—especially if one has deep and specific knowledge of the good work they do to improve the world.”

Currently, Kass is putting his shoulder to the wheel as a member of the North American Executive Board. He feels honored to play a supporting role in advancing the School’s mission by bringing his perspective on strategic issues and initiatives the Board is asked to consider. He also appreciates the opportunity to work closely with an inspirational dean. Says Kass, “After only a handful of interactions with Dean Schmittlein, I became convinced that he is one of the truly exceptional global leaders in the field of management education, who brings to his work exceptional intellectual and moral stature. In my mind, MIT Sloan has a game changer as its chief executive. He is a visionary with big ideas, a doer, and a person whose high ideals and noble ambitions make us all better.”

For Kass, an additional benefit of serving on the board is the access it provides to MIT Sloan’s impressive faculty and students. “I always find the faculty presentations illuminating and indicative of the truly rare caliber of original scholarship going on at MIT Sloan,” says Kass. “It’s also exciting to meet students who are clearly idealistic and committed to making a difference.”

One could make the same observation about Kass himself.