1943 First EMBA Program debuts at the University of Chicago
1981 EMBAC launches with its first nationwide conference in Houston
1987 Bud Fackler receives the first Bud Fackler Award
1995 EMBAC begins tracking trends through research
1997 EMBAC organizes its first regional meetings
2000 EMBAC becomes an independent organization
2006 EMBAC celebrates its 25 anniversary
2014 2014 EMBAC Conference attracts record number of participants
1999 EMBAC hosts its first international regional meeting in Paris, France
2005 First non-North American conference takes place in Barcelona, Spain
2014 Non-North American membership reaches 31 percent
2015 EMBAC hosts its first conference in Asia
“Our purpose was to try and help other people.”
University of Houston

In 1981, the University of Houston with its on-campus hotel, hosted the first workshop for what would become the Executive MBA Council.

It was a standing room only event, fueled by the growing popularity of EMBA Programs. At the start of the 1980s, the number of EMBA Programs hovered around 50 total. By the end of the decade, the number would rise to more than 100. By the end of 2021, EMBAC member programs totaled 285.

The core group of council founders, faculty members and directors who were responsible in many cases for developing EMBA Programs at their schools, played a key role in moving the council forward and distinguishing it from other professional organizations. Council founders took the notion of encouraging the development of the industry and supporting collegiality to heart. They began collaborating with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – AACSB International – and the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC®). AACSB International agreed to provide administrative support, which proved critical to the council’s birth and early efforts.

In 1983, the first EMBAC Conference, Developing Quality in Executive MBA Programs, took place in Atlanta, Georgia. By 1987, the council moved its annual conference outside of the U.S. for the first time, as Toronto, Canada, hosted. The year also marked the first EMBAC foray into research, with the Survey of Executive MBA Programs, the precursor of the current Membership Program Survey.

Growth in all ways
"We were coming to the point where it was as if the council had been in its infancy and now had grown and was ready to leave the nest.”

Associate Dean, Graduate Programs, Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University

In 1988, the council took a leap forward through its incorporation, with 56 schools as charter members, and Tom Ference, who then headed the EMBA Program at Columbia University, become the first chair of the EMBAC Board of Trustees.

The 1990s brought rapid growth, both in EMBA Programs and council activities, including the first newsletter, first web site, first regional meetings, and first corporate members. At the 1993 conference in Mexico City, Mexico, participants met with then president Carlos Salinas at the official presidential residence.

In the late 1990s, the EMBAC Board of Trustees made a game-changing decision to become an independent organization.

In 2000, EMBAC become independent, maintaining an ongoing collaboration with AACSB International but taking charge of all operations and offerings. Maury Kalnitz, who had headed an EMBA Program at Georgia State University, became the council’s first managing director.

In the years that followed, EMBAC became a truly global organization, expanding its members throughout the world, hosting conferences in Barcelona, Paris, and Singapore and offering regional meetings in Asia, Latin America, and Europe, as well as throughout the United States and Canada.

True to its roots
“Energy is gained through collaborating with colleagues from around the world who share the same passion for executive education and developing global business leaders.”
Director, EMBA Recruiting and External Relations, Neeley School of Business, Texas Christian University

It expanded its portfolio of offerings, adding the Marketing and Admissions Program, director’s offerings, and webinars, as well as research initiatives, but also remained true to its roots in collegiality, sharing, and camaraderie.

“EMBAC provides professionals working in the executive education industry with a network and information resources required to deliver your best for your institution,” says Kevin T. Davis, director, EMBA recruiting and external relations, Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University.

The council helps its members in many ways, he says. “Insights and ideas gained through the collaboration and camaraderie fostered by the organization accelerated my development and ability to meet expectations consistently for my program.” says Davis.

Voice of the industry
“As the academic association that represents the Executive MBA, EMBAC is uniquely positioned to serve as the industry voice globally.”
EMBAC Executive Director

In 2007, Kalnitz retired, and, consistent with its growth, EMBAC decided to hire its first full-time executive director, Michael Desiderio. A graduate of the EMBA Program at Arizona State University, Desiderio brought both experience in industry and education. As part of its strategic direction, the new executive director was tasked with further strengthening international connections, exploring new offerings, and enhancing the council’s presence.

Recently, the council reaffirmed the commitment to its mission to network, educate, and inform, and also to make greater contributions to the industry. Council efforts include the launch of a website for prospective students that includes a blog on industry and school developments, new research on return on investment, and ongoing work to serve as a thought leader and to share knowledge and best practices.

“We are engaging in research that offers insights of value to EMBAC’s diverse stakeholders and maximizing communications and media activity to share industry information and promote thought leadership. We plan to strengthen our efforts to offer relevant content and serve as a facilitator of best practice sharing.”