See You At Closing Bell!


School traditions are a wonderfully funny thing. They come in all shapes and sizes, from rock painting and statue stealing to more somber rituals that are steeped in a long history.

We graduate schools also have our own traditions. Vanderbilt Law School students gather each Friday afternoon for a social hour known as “Blackacre.” Owen too has long had its own version of this as students, faculty, staff, significant others, kids — even pets — get together in the lobby every Thursday to share a drink or two. For me, as well as for those who attend, this is a meaningful, but relaxing way to end a week of classes.

Over the years this event has simply become known as “kegs” — and for some that name will always remain. I remember my first kegs as a new faculty member in 1991. At that time, it was called “kegs in the courtyard” because we just rolled a keg outside and started a party. Some people have recently taken to calling this gathering “Thursday Social.” When I arrived on campus this past fall, I told students in our first town hall meeting that I’d like to come up with a new name. I’ll tell you why.

For starters, there is so much more that happens during that time — in the way of getting to know each other, of sharing ideas, of forming lifelong connections. Most evenings include food, wine, and other drinks. Many include club events, contests, games, and music.  Today’s Thursday evening celebrations are far more than the old “kegs in the courtyard.”

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to change the name, however, was to create a shared experience for alumni and current students alike. When we visit alumni on the road, we sometimes call these gatherings “CityOwen.” But that’s also a generic name that doesn’t resonate with the experiences we’ve all had together at Owen. I’m ready to start a new tradition — one that belongs to everyone in the Owen community.

With that in mind, the group OwenLife — formerly known as OwenBloggers — sponsored a contest earlier this month to rename kegs. From a list of about 70 suggestions four names were selected for a final vote: Standard & Pours, Closing Bell, Anchor Hour, and Owen S.I.P.S. (Social Inclusion of Professionals and Students).

“Closing Bell” emerged as the clear favorite, a suggestion that won second-year MBA student Guy Baldwin an iPad Mini. I love the name. So far, students and alumni seem to as well.

We had our first Closing Bell in the Owen lobby on Feb. 20, which coincided with a 100% Owen Auction that raised nearly $10,000 for Thistle Farms in honor of Lisa Froeb. The next day, I hit the road and attended my first international Closing Bell in Tokyo, thanks to the work of our great alum Heiki Miki (MBA ’96).

But we need your help to define this new tradition and make it a phrase that sticks. Wouldn’t it be great to look back in 25 or 50 years and remember how and when Closing Bell got started?

Who knows, we might even buy a bell.


  • Richard Stephenson

    March 26th, 2014

    Great name. I have been running a monthly alumni group in Chicago that I call Social Thursdays, so that may be where the Thirsday Social came from.

    I love the new name and will adjust the name of my gatherings. I also have an idea that I would like to share with you when you get a chance.

    Richard Stephenson
    (MBA ’99)

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