Valerie Tunny Holton ’74, ’77 MBA


Valerie Tunny Holton ’74, ’77 MBA is a self-described “lifelong learner”—which is why she returns to Northwestern each spring for A Day with Northwestern, an all-day event featuring prominent faculty and alumni speaking on a variety of timely topics. “From medical technology to Chaucer, there’s something for everyone,” says Holton, who has served on the program’s executive board for the past six years. “It’s the perfect way to learn something new.”


Holton’s passion for learning is what originally attracted her to the University. “I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I ‘grew up,’” says Holton, who chose Northwestern because it offered her the opportunity to explore a wide range of disciplines in an academically rigorous environment. After considering degrees in art history and political science, she turned her focus to marketing, which she says “appealed to her creative side.”


Following graduation, Holton accepted a marketing position at a bank and began taking evening classes at the Kellogg School of Management. She earned her MBA and went on to work more than 35 years in marketing, spanning the banking, corporate, and non-profit sectors.


Beyond career exploration, being at Northwestern in the ’70s offered Holton the chance to learn about the world from the diverse perspectives of the students around her. “It was a time of turmoil,” says Holton, who says she straddled two different college worlds. “I protested the Vietnam War, demonstrated down Sheridan Road, and attended the 1972 NU Grateful Dead concert,” says Holton, “but I also enjoyed Greek life as a sorority sister in Alpha Chi Omega.”


Now retired, Holton says she has never been busier. She is a docent at the Art Institute of Chicago, volunteers for several non-profit organizations, serves meals at a homeless shelter, explores her creative side by taking art classes, and enjoys hiking and biking. A resident of the Chicago area, she regularly returns to campus to attend concerts, plays, and lectures and she is an avid Northwestern football and women’s lacrosse fan.


Holton is particularly excited to return to campus on April 22 for A Day with Northwestern. She has already earmarked a number of “must see” sessions, including Dr. Julian Bailes’s lecture on traumatic brain injuries in sports and Geraldo Cadava’s session on Hamilton.


Life is a journey,” says Holton, reflecting on her continuing passion for learning. “If we’re lucky, we can come full-circle to return to what we really love.”


Registration is now open for A Day with Northwestern. Learn more. >>