09 Apr 2008
Happy Birthday, Harvard Business School
HBS community celebrates the School's first century
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Dean Jay Light Harvard Business School Dean Jay Light cuts the first piece of a giant cake modeled
after the school's Baker Library.

BOSTON — More than 3,000 members of the Harvard Business School community-MBA and doctoral students, faculty, and staff-came together yesterday for a day-long series of festivities and special events to celebrate the Centennial anniversary of the School.

On April 8, 1908, the Harvard University Board of Overseers approved the establishment of a graduate school of business administration, the first in the world to offer the MBA degree. Described as "a great but delicate experiment," HBS started with a full-time faculty of fifteen, a handful of staff, and a student body of fewer than a hundred. The School had no buildings of its own until a gift from New York financier George F. Baker in 1924 enabled the construction of a campus on the Allston side of the Charles River. In the decades since, HBS has flourished, setting a high standard in the quality of its teaching, research, and course development and dedicating itself to its mission of educating leaders who make a difference in the world.

HBS helped establish and develop such fields as organizational behavior, marketing, managerial accounting, and corporate strategy. The School is now at the forefront in addressing important issues affecting companies and countries, large corporations and small startups, for-profit businesses and social enterprises.

"On this truly unique occasion," said the Centennial celebration program, "we come together to celebrate an institution that has not only left its mark around the globe but played an important role in our own lives. Today, as we continue to contribute to the success of Harvard Business School, we become part of its Centennial history as well."

The day opened with a convocation that included remarks by HBS Dean Jay Light, Harvard University President Drew Faust, HBS Professor and Senior Associate Dean John Quelch PDF transcript, Director of Administrative Services Robert Breslow, and Jimmy Tran, a second-year student in the MBA program PDF transcript.

"What has been accomplished here in 100 short years is truly remarkable," said Professor Quelch. "The lives of alumni transformed by an unparalleled commitment to teaching excellence and by the lifelong friendships nurtured in our classrooms; millions of jobs created by the business leaders and entrepreneurs whom we, as faculty, have had the privilege of coaching; hundreds of scholars who have advanced our understanding of management, leadership and wealth creation, generously funded by HBS to pursue their intellectual agendas; and thousands of staff members and their families who have taken pride in being associated with this fine and caring school."

After the convocation - and for the first time in HBS history - the same case study was taught simultaneously across campus to all members of the community. Prepared by Senior Lecturer Michael Roberts, HBS in 2008 put readers in the role of Dean Light as he focused on the future of HBS in the 21st century.

A lunch at Harvard's Murr Center featuring a video that highlighted the many behind-the-scenes contributions of the School's staff members was followed by a portfolio of student-organized panels and talks that ran concurrently throughout the campus:

  • "The Art of Possibility," with Benjamin Zander, renowned conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra
  • A conversation led by Professor Bill Sahlman with Robert Kraft (MBA 1965), chairman and CEO of the New England Patriots, and Jonathan Kraft (MBA 1990), president of the Patriots and owner of the New England Revolution soccer franchise, about "family, football, faith, and philanthropy"
  • "Changing Hearts and Minds," moderated by Professor Allen Grossman and featuring Nancy Barry (MBA 1975), president of Nancy Barry Associates-Enterprise Solutions to Poverty; Frances Hesselbein, chairman of the board of governors of the Leader to Leader Initiative; and Johann Olav Koss, four-time Olympic gold medalist and chairman of Right to Play, an organization that uses sports and play to help the world's most disadvantaged youth
  • "Leading in Times of Uncertainty," with Abby Joseph Cohen of Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Leo Strine, Jr., vice chancellor of the Court of Chancery and Adjunct Professor of Law at theUniversity of Pennsylvania Law School, moderated by Professor Joshua Margolis
  • "Using Enterprise to Shape the Future," moderated by Lecturer Stacey Childress, and featuring Michael Brown, CEO and cofounder of City Year, Inc.; Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of the Acumen Fund, a nonprofit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve problems of global poverty; and Mortimer Zuckerman, editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report and publisher of the New York Daily News.

Other attractions included an art exhibit showcasing the talents of HBS students, faculty, and staff, and a gallery talk at Baker Library titled " A Daring Experiment: Harvard and Business Education for Women, 1937-1970."

The festivities concluded with refreshments, entertainment, and a huge cake in the neoclassical likeness of Library, which has been the iconic image of Harvard Business School since the building opened in June 1927.

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 200 offers full-time​ programs leading to the MBA and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 80 open enrollment Executive Education programs and more than 60 custom programs. For more than a century, HBS faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching to educate leaders who have shaped the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.​​​​