Walter David “Bud” Fackler made such an impression on his Executive MBA students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business that they still keep in touch with his widow, Hazel Fackler.
In fact, after his death in 1993, his students began fundraising for scholarships in his name, which turned into a campaign to fund the Walter David “Bud” Fackler Professorship. At the time, the gifts from the initial 763 donors marked the largest such pooled gift fund in the school’s history.
“Every one of his students seemed to have a special story that they like to tell about him,” says Hazel Fackler. “Every single one of his students was special to him.”
His students were not the only fans of Bud Fackler, whose legendary generosity extended to all in his sphere and helped bolster the fledgling Executive MBA industry.
At the University of Chicago, which initiated the first EMBA Program in 1943, Bud Fackler embodied openness and a willingness to share. Indeed many administrators and faculty visited the University of Chicago to talk with Fackler and observe the Chicago model before they put their program in place.
Bud Fackler’s generosity and spirit was carried forward in the organization that he helped found, the EMBA Council. The council, in turn, honored him and his efforts by establishing the Bud Fackler Service Award, which recognizes contributions to the EMBA Council and to EMBA Programs worldwide, including efforts to help other programs, to share best practices, and to raise the quality of EMBA Programs. Bud Fackler was the first recipient of the award in 1987.
The most recent winner: Elmer Almachar
Elmer Almachar, senior director, Executive MBA Global Network, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, received the 2020 Bud Fackler Service Award from EMBAC in October.
The Bud Fackler Service Award recognizes contributions to EMBAC and to EMBA Programs worldwide, including efforts to help other programs, to share best practices, and to raise the quality of EMBA Programs. The council named the award after Bud Fackler, the late director of the EMBA Program at the University of Chicago and one of the council’s founders.
Almachar was elected to the EMBAC Board of Trustees in October 2014, serving as board chair in 2016 and past chair in 2017. He has been instrumental in enhancing EMBAC’s research initiatives in support of the industry and, after leaving the board in 2019, he has continued to contribute as a member of the EMBAC Research Center.
“Elmer embodies what the award is,” said Michael Desiderio, EMBAC executive director. “His commitment to the industry and to his colleagues is undeniable, and his contributions are countless.”
Almachar wanted to serve the EMBAC community because the community has served him so well, he said.
“The EMBA Council was truly the first professional community that I’ve been part of that I felt wasn’t just a community, it was a family,” said Almachar. “If there’s anything that I’ve been able to do for the community, for the industry, for the council, it’s really because of the inspiration that EMBAC colleagues have given me over the years.”
Almachar began his career by joining the world-renowned consulting firm of McKinsey & Company. Initially hired as a graphics specialist, he coordinated schedules for graphic designers and mentored team members. He gained additional responsibilities and eventually led McKinsey’s U.S. Design Center team.
Academics has always been important to Almachar. He completed his bachelor’s degree with a focus on government and religion and then received his master’s degree in religious studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School. While at McKinsey, he returned to school again for his MBA from Kellogg. The experience proved more than valuable: In 2011, he joined Kellogg as director of its Executive MBA Program.
Almachar learned about the council during his first week on the job and attended his first EMBAC Conference in Key Biscayne in 2011.
“It’s been a remarkable journey, but it’s been a remarkable journey I’ve taken with each of you,” said Almacher to EMBAC members when he received the award at the 2020 EMBAC Virtual Conference. “I thank you and I can’t tell you how much this means. It’s an unbelievable honor.”
The council announces the Bud Fackler Award winner at its annual conference. The list of past winners includes the following outstanding leaders.
1987 / Bud Fackler,
University of Chicago
1988 / Herbert (Pete) Lyons,
University of Houston
1989 / Tom Ference,
1990 / Ernie Scalberg,
University of California at Los Angeles
1992 / Chuck Hickman,
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International
1993 / Ed Wilson,
1995 / Susan Bunker,
University of Colorado
1996 / Kathryn Carlson,
University of Minnesota
Georgia State University
1998 / Norm Berman,
New York University
1999 / George Abraham,
University of New Hampshire
2000 / Martin Rapisarda,
2001 / Penny Oslund,
University of North Carolina
University of Wisconsin–Madison
2002 / Dave Poole,
Pepperdine University and Chapman University
2003 / Marci Armstrong,
Southern Methodist University
2004 / Graduate Management Admission Council®
2005 / Cathy Molony,
University of Pennsylvania
2006 / Michael Saewitz,
2007 / Maury Kalnitz,
first Executive MBA Council managing director
2008 / George Bobinski,
2009 / Anne Herbert,
Helsinki School of Economics
2010 / John Fraser,
University of Iowa
Patty Keegan, University of Chicago
2011 / Maria-Eugenia Marin,
IE Business School
2012 / Beatrix Dart,
University of Toronto
2013 / Brad Vierig,
University of Utah
2014 / Gonzalo Freixes, UCLA
2015 / Louise Kapastka,
University of Washington
2016 / Barbara Millar,
University of Virginia
2017 / Nicole Tee, Nanyang Technological University
2018 / Karin Wiström, Stockholm School of Economics
2019 / Bernadette (Bernie) Birt, University of Pennsylvania
2020 / Elmer Almachar, Northwestern University
Voice of winners
Bud Fackler winners share their perspectives on EMBAC
Gonzalo Freixes, UCLA
Barbara Millar, University of Virginia
Louise Kapastka, University of Washington
Nicole Tee, Nanyang Technological University
Karin Wiström, Stockholm School of Economics
Bernadette (Bernie) Birt, University of Pennsylvania
Elmer Almachar, Northwestern University
Receiving the award also made me feel very proud to be part of a group that creates and sustains a strong collegial culture, much like our students experience in our programs…I remain proud to have been part of an organization whose primary goal was and continues to be creating value for its members.
1996 KATHRYN CARLSON University of Minnesota
In 2004, and still today, it meant everything to be the only organization to have been honored with the Fackler Service Award. It was an acknowledgement from an organization we greatly respect – the EMBA Council – that we were succeeding at staying true to the purpose given to us by schools when they created GMAC in 1953.
It was a humbling honor to be recognized by peers, and motivating too, as affirmation usually is. I think recognizing a member of a European school really helped other member schools from around the school see their part in the council. Now I am so proud of the council when I see the long list of members from all around the world, and so many different nationalities represented on the board.
2009 ANNE HERBERT Helsinki School of Economics
I wanted to give back to the council as much as I could. I think that is the beauty of the council—when people from 300-plus programs come together and contribute their ideas to help each other learn and grows.