Home to the MBA Admissions Office, Dillon House was designed in the Georgian Revival-style by McKim, Mead & White as part of the original 1920s campus plan.
Construction was delayed until 1965, however, during the tenure of Dean George P. Baker. When it first opened, the three-story, 5,800-square-foot, stucco and brick building provided offices for the School’s Finance faculty. Today, Dillon House provides administrative space for MBA Admissions staff, who welcome legions of prospective students to campus throughout the year and annually review thousands of applications submitted by candidates from across the globe. Accepted MBA students bring a wide variety of skills, accomplishments, and aspirations to HBS, creating a dynamic learning community.
The construction of Dillon House was made possible through a gift from Clarence Dillon (1882-1979), a 1905 Harvard College graduate, self-made millionaire, investment banker, and leader of Dillon, Read & Co., a prominent US investment bank. Dillon joined the Wall Street bond brokerage firm William A. Read & Company in 1912. Following William Read’s death in 1916, Dillon bought a majority interest in the firm; the company’s name was changed to Dillon, Read & Co. in 1921. A number of the firm’s partners also filled senior roles in government. During World War I, Dillon served on the War Industries Board, which coordinated the purchase of war supplies.
Dillon’s gift to Harvard Business School honored his son, C. Douglas Dillon (1909-2003), a US treasury secretary. The younger Dillon’s accomplishments spanned the realms of finance, government, diplomacy, economics, and art. A 1931 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, he was a member of the New York Stock Exchange from 1931 until 1936, when he became a director, and subsequently president, of the United States and Foreign Securities Corporation.
Dillon joined his father’s investment firm in 1938 and led Dillon Read as chairman from 1946 to 1953. He served in the US Navy during World War II and was decorated for his actions in combat. In 1953 Dillon was appointed ambassador to France by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He served in that post until 1959, when he became undersecretary of state for economic affairs. He went on to become the undersecretary of state and acting secretary of state during Chris Herter’s leave of absence.
As a life-long republican, he served as secretary of the treasury under democratic Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1965, Dillon focused on trade deficit reduction and on promoting the Kennedy tax program, which called for sweeping cuts to encourage economic growth. Following his government service, Dillon returned to the private sector and also served as president of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Dillon’s close involvement with Harvard University included two terms on the Board of Overseers, service on 11 visiting committees, and leadership of numerous fundraising campaigns. In addition to Dillon House, over the years the Dillon family has funded many significant Harvard initiatives, including fellowship funds, several professorships, and the endowment for the Dillon Field House.
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