The Bill Graham Factor: A Schulich Legacy for the Ages

Bill's MBA Grad Photo, 1986
Bill’s MBA Grad Photo, 1986

On February 22, 2022, the Schulich community from every corner of the globe gathered to celebrate and thank Bill Graham (MBA ’86) for his loyal and dedicated ambassadorship as he retired from his role as President of the Schulich Global Alumni Network after more than two decades of exceptional leadership and service.

Almost two decades before that pivotal appointment, Bill started his MBA program full-time at the Schulich School of Business, then called the Faculty of Administrative Studies, at the age of 37 (the second oldest in his class), with 14 years of business experience and success under his belt, and a young family with wife Jennifer and daughters Amanda and Melissa (who followed his father’s footsteps and graduated with an MBA degree in 2003) at the home front. In 1986, Bill graduated on the Dean’s List, second in his class, and the rest, as they say, is history. In Bill’s case, a storied history.

How can you sum up Bill what he has given the Schulich and York community and why he has done so with incredible energy and passion in just a few words? 

Well, Dean Emeritus Dezsö Horváth, encapsulated it in two words: “Bill cares.” It is this all-encompassing goodwill – his compass – toward his School, his fellow graduates, and the students that he has distinguished himself as a purpose-driven leader who inspired and galvanized alumni and the rest of the Schulich community and helped build a global alumni network The Economist currently ranks in the Top 5 of alumni networks in the world.

Bill has circumvented the world armed with this “compass” to point him to the right people, the right companies, and the right opportunities to help expand the School’s alumni network’s global footprint as underscored by Dean Detlev Zwick: “Bill identified people who share the School’s vision and brought them into Schulich’s orbit.”

Shenzhen Alumni Dinner, 2018
Shenzhen Alumni Dinner, 2018

“I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet with and bear witness to our alumni’s successes, both professional and personal. It’s incredible to see, hear, and experience what they do for their communities, cities, countries, and learn about their challenges and successes. It was exhilarating to hear their thoughts and get their perspectives on what’s happening in their part of the world as well as our part of the world. It’s partaking in the energy, the experience, and the emotions of our alumni that have made my role highly enjoyable and satisfying,” shared Bill.

Bill’s legacy of caring is tightly woven into the fabric of the School’s global orientation and reputation as embodied by its 34,000 alumni in 90 countries. When asked what legacy he hopes to leave at Schulich, Bill shared three of what he considers as very important to him: the opportunity to have contributed to the growth and success of the IMBA program and its incredible students; the opportunity to have helped build something that is global, sustainable, and impactful as the Schulich Global Alumni Network; and the whole range of friends, who are leaders in what they do, that he has gained along the way as he traversed the alumni circuit.

“No matter where they are in the world, our alumni respond. We have a 34,000-strong network of trusted sources of information, opinions, perspectives, as well as philanthropy in all its forms. I have relied on our network, and I encourage all our alumni to use and benefit from it.”

Bill’s long-standing service to the Schulich and York community is revered – President of the Schulich Global Alumni Network 2001 to 2021; Dean’s Advisory Council member since 2004; and Executive-in-Residence from 2004 to 2021 to name a few – and recognized fittingly with a Schulich Alumni Recognition Award for Outstanding Contribution in 2013 and a York University Bryden Award for Outstanding Contribution in 2016. On top of this, Bill has been a loyal donor since 1986 and hasn’t missed a single year to make a contribution towards the Schulich Annual Fund.

In deep gratitude, alumni and friends are establishing the Bill Graham (MBA ’86) Global Leadership Award at the Schulich School of Business. The award will support incoming domestic and international students who have been admitted into a graduate program at the Schulich School of Business. Recipients of the award will be emerging leaders who demonstrate a commitment to advancing international business by showing they understand the importance of environmental, social, and corporate governance standards necessary to improve the global business space for all. Recipients must also demonstrate financial need and academic excellence (minimum 6.0 GPA, B+) in previous studies.

Bill with Rob Hines and Dean Emeritus Dezsö Horváth at the ARAs, 2013
With Rob Hines and Dean Emeritus Dezsö Horváth at the ARAs, 2013

Humbled and honoured, Bill felt that the award bearing his name fits in every way.

“I’m very happy that it has a global focus that has always been part of the Schulich DNA. And being honoured in a way that’s so aligned with our School’s mission is something that I am very happy about. The opportunity to have had the kind of experiences with such breadth and depth that Schulich has allowed me to have has given me a global perspective like no other. The nature of this award is perfectly aligned with how I look at things. Both Jennifer and I are very pleased with it and how this was put together. I look forward to seeing it unfold and am really excited to find out where it goes!” concluded Bill.

The inaugural recipient of the Bill Graham (MBA ’86) Global Leadership Award will be announced in the 2022-2023 academic year.

To thank and celebrate Bill with a gift toward this new award to be established in his honour, please visit www.schulich.yorku.ca/gift-billgraham or contact our Development Office at (416) 650-8050 to make your tax-deductible donation today.

Based in the USA, United Kingdom, Singapore, or Hong Kong? Please contact us at advancement@schulich.yorku.ca to receive instructions on how to make tax-deductible or tax-effective donations.

Following Bill’s Footprints

Montage of BillGraham's life
Pictured left to right: (top row) S.C.A.N. Donor Event, 2018; Hong Kong Alumni Dinner, 2019; Bill with wife Jennifer at Schulich’s 50th Anniversary Gala, 2016; Shanghai Alumni Lunch, 2013;

(second row) With friend and fellow alumni Kishore Moorjani (BBA ’94, MBA ’95), ARAs, 2015; With Janice Fukakusa (MBA ’79, Hon. LLD ’16) and Dean Emeritus Dezsö Horváth at CONNECT, 2018; Brunch in Beijing, 2014; With Melissa and Jennifer at the Bryden Awards, 2016; With York President Emeritus Mamdouh Shoukri at the Bryden Awards, 2016; Bill’s MBA Grad Photo, 1986;

(third row) With Rob Hines and Dean Emeritus Dezsö Horváth at the ARAs, 2013; Shenzhen Alumni Dinner, 2018; Singapore Alumni Dinner, 2019