After every single class. I'm going to say that again. Every. Single. Class.
We applaud. Everyone.
I'm afraid I never had the honor of knowing the man; but in my interviews with staff and faculty, here's what I've learned. Walt Blaccioniere joined the Kelley faculty in the late 90's teaching Accounting. He was and optimistic, fun and dynamic professor, often jumping up on desks in excitement, and got to know his students personally, not just brain-machines. He was a health enthusiast in his mid-40s, often running 5ks and other jogs with faculty friends. Walt introduced the tradition of clapping - simply to congratulate the cooperative learning that had happened during the class session. Everyone truly loved Walt. In 2007, Walt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and was lost just eight months later. In his final optimistic months, Walt requested that the faculty carry on the tradition of the Kelley clap.
In the atrium is a bronze statue of applauding hands. It reads:
Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.
"The Kelley Applause Tradition
Faculty and staudents applaud after each class session to appreciate the teaching and learning that has taken place. This gracious tradition was started by an extraordinary teacher, professor Walt Blaccioniere (1956-2007)
Sculpture by Todd Frahm"In his honor, we applaud the learning that has just taken place. These professors, recruited from the top ranked business graduate schools, are the top in their field. They're the reason we have the top Entrepreneur MBA program, incredible corporate finance, work-renown MBA product marketing and more. When you come visit Kelley, take the time to reach out and meet these professors. Their efforts, their personality, their ability to integrate the lessons from one discipline to the next and make the learning practical and eye-opening. Their brilliance, insight and character deserve the applause every time. You'd think you'd become jaded after every class, clapping time and time again, knowing how much work you have to go do now to prepare for the next class.
Take a look at the Kelley Clap from this last December for Professor Mike Metzger's final lecture. Tell me the students don't mean it - and the professor doesn't take it to heart.
If you knew Walt or have a personal story about the Kelley Clap, please feel free to share it below.