The architectural and intellectual centerpiece of the HBS campus, Baker Library was dedicated in 1927 and named for George F. Baker (1840-1931), the benefactor who funded the School’s original campus. Designed with a distinctive bell tower and columned facade by McKim, Mead & White, Baker is the largest business library in the world. More than 600,000 volumes span seven centuries and serve as a resource for the HBS community, as well as scholars from across the globe.
The iconic 184,224-square-foot building was extensively revitalized and expanded in 2003-2005, primarily with funds donated by generous HBS alumni. Special attention was given to updating and enhancing the building’s traditional functions while designing new spaces that encourage interaction and collaboration among those who work and study there. The two-year project included the creation of the Bloomberg Center, an extension of the building’s southern footprint and new south-facing entrance named to honor William Henry Bloomberg, the late father of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
During the renovation, the building’s north-facing facade was restored, existing faculty offices were updated, and 30 new faculty offices were added. The updates incorporated modern digital media and resources, while creating accessible, environmentally controlled storage space for Baker’s vast book and manuscript holdings. In total, 38,000 square feet were added to the 130,000-square-foot building.
With 67 faculty offices in Baker Library | Bloomberg Center, all HBS professors are now housed in three adjacent buildings—Baker | Bloomberg, Rock Center, and Morgan Hall—reinforcing Baker’s original function as the School’s intellectual focal point. Bloomberg Center is also home to The Exchange, a first-floor gathering place that employs the latest technology to provide students, faculty, alumni, and visitors with access to real-time business news and financial information.
Highlights of enhancements in the original section of Baker include the de Gaspé Beaubien Reading Room, which houses the School’s renowned historical collection of rare business books, the largest in the world, and documents dating from the 15th century. The new Frist Faculty Commons comprises a dining area and lounge that replaces the former Faculty Club in Kresge Hall, a space where faculty can gather for lunch. Flanking the Commons are three seminar rooms used by faculty and doctoral students. The Stamps Reading Room, on the second floor, a majestic space and gateway to all library areas, was carefully restored and updated to include wireless Internet service.
In 1924, Harvard Business School’s first benefactor, George F. Baker, succinctly expressed the motivation behind his decision to donate the entire amount necessary to construct a campus for the School. “My life has been given to business,” the renowned tycoon noted, “and I should like to found the first Graduate School to give a new start to better business standards.” Underscoring that sentiment at the 1927 campus dedication and issuing a challenge for future generations of HBS leaders and students, Baker elaborated, “It must be remembered always that the standard of excellence which must be maintained comes not simply from the outside of the buildings, but from the work and training on the inside.”
A prominent financier, philanthropist, and president of the First National Bank of New York, Baker was an extraordinary business leader. At the age of 23, he invested $3,000 to become an original shareholder in the First National Bank, where he worked as a teller. Just 14 years later, he became the bank’s president. Under his conservative management, the institution remained financially sound throughout the panics of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Baker’s business acumen extended to serving on the boards of more than 40 corporations, including several failing railroads that he bought and revitalized. He also had great success investing in the utilities, steel, and rubber industries. Although he famously kept a low profile, leaders of business and government consistently sought and received his advice.
Baker appreciated the impact of unsteady economic times, and his 1924 gift to the School was understood to be an endorsement of the need for professional management education. When Harvard Overseer Bishop William Lawrence approached him for a $1 million donation to help build the new campus, Baker refused. After consulting with his son, Harvard College graduate George F. Baker Jr., the elder Baker told Lawrence he preferred to contribute $5 million “for the privilege of building the whole school.”
Dean Wallace B. Donham allowed the Bakers much leeway in the naming of first campus buildings, but it was at Donham’s strong suggestion that the library was given the Baker name.
Michael Bloomberg’s life story is one of self-made success in finance, business, and politics. The son of real-estate agent William Henry Bloomberg and Charlotte Rubens Bloomberg, the future mayor of New York City grew up in Medford, Massachusetts, and worked his way through college, earning an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins in 1964.
After graduating from HBS, Bloomberg spent more than a decade on Wall Street, where he headed equity trading and systems development for Salomon Brothers. In 1981, he launched a company based on the idea that Wall Street would pay for high-quality information delivered quickly and accurately through innovative technology. Today, Bloomberg LP has over 15,000 employees in 192 locations, offering data, analytics, and financial information to subscribers across the globe.
While building his business, Bloomberg became engaged in civic affairs through his philanthropy. He entered public life in 2002, becoming mayor of New York City after a successful, self-financed campaign. He won reelection in 2005 and again in 2009. The popular politician often rides the city’s subway, does not collect a salary, and has identified public education and poverty as priority issues for the city. In recent years, Bloomberg has also taken strong public stances on a variety of national and international issues.
The Bloomberg Center is named for Bloomberg’s father, Henry, whose father was a Jewish immigrant from Russia. Bloomberg has said that his philanthropy is inspired by his parents’ emphasis on public service and the importance of giving back. His Bloomberg Philanthropies foundation supports the arts, education, the environment, government innovation, and public health. In 2011, the Chronicle of Philanthropy listed Bloomberg Philanthropies in the top 5 on its list of America’s top 50 philanthropies.
Bloomberg has two daughters who share his involvement in philanthropy. Emma Bloomberg (MBA 2007) is chief of staff at the Robin Hood Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting poverty in New York City. Georgina, an accomplished equestrian, serves on the board of the Equestrian Aid Foundation. Emma is married to classmate Christopher P. Frissora (MBA 2007).
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