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The Year in Review

The 2020–21 fiscal year was one of innovation and adaptation. While the pandemic disrupted lives and activities around the world, Harvard Business School sought to not just continue but also adapt and extend its core activities of teaching, research, and disseminating ideas. Faculty and students alike embraced the custom technology that enabled teaching and learning both in the classroom and remotely. They were supported by hundreds of frontline staff who came to campus every day to transform old processes and build and manage new systems. Throughout, the HBS community worked together to overcome the complexities inherent in this hybrid approach.

Students talking outside

Students Arrive

More than 9,300 applicants sought a place in the MBA Program and nearly 800 applicants in the Doctoral Programs; the acceptance rate for both was highly competitive, at 13 % and 4 %, respectively.

Fellowships were awarded to 838 MBA students, with an average fellowship of $42,225 for the Class of 2021.


  • Students 732
  • Applications 9,304
  • Acceptance Rate 13%


  • Students 26
  • Applications 797
  • Acceptance Rate 4%
More Enrollment Statistics

New Faculty Join

Thirty faculty members, including new tenure-track professors, visitors, and practitioners, participated in START, a deep-dive orientation to the School that took place virtually over three days in July 2020 with one day on campus in August. The program provides an overview of Harvard Business School and a window into research and research support at the School, the case method, and the classroom experience. Teaching faculty join study groups and practice preparing and opening a case, and then receive feedback and advice from experienced colleagues. Professor Ryan Buell designs and leads the program with the support of the Division of Research and Faculty Development.


Entrepreneurial Management Shai Benjamin Bernstein

Entrepreneurial Management


Finance Samuel Antill


Entrepreneurial Management Anke Becker

Entrepreneurial Management

Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Edward Chang

Negotiation, Organizations & Markets

Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Thomas Graeber

Negotiation, Organizations & Markets

Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Jillian Jordan

Negotiation, Organizations & Markets

Organizational Behavior James Riley

Organizational Behavior

Strategy Maria Roche


Business, Government & the International Economy Marlous van Waijenburg

Business, Government & the International Economy

Business, Government & the International Economy Jaya Wen

Business, Government & the International Economy

Faculty helping students

Staff Shine Through

The faculty and leadership have noted over the years that the staff members are the fuel that propels the School. Never was this more evident than FY21, when staff elevated their performance to new heights, overcoming every obstacle that the pandemic presented, to ensure the continuity of the School's work. Every team leaned in--from food service workers to security to technology and administrative support--whether on campus or remote. Their dedication, commitment to excellence and ability to adapt, allowed HBS to thrive at a time when many other schools were hunkering down.

Racial Equity Plan ANNOUNCED

In September 2020, HBS unveiled its action plan for racial equity, with ambitious goals for advancing racial equity within and beyond the School. The plan was drafted by the Dean's Anti-Racism Task Force, a group of 25 students, alumni, faculty, and staff who engaged an even broader swath of the community in devising its recommendations. The plan seeks to advance anti-racism education and research, support the Black community at HBS and beyond, engage the broader business community, and change the School's culture and organization. Milestones in the following months include announcing the appointment of Terrill Drake as the School's first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, increasing the number of Black case protagonists in active cases by 3 percent, increasing access to the MBA Program by revising the need-based formula for financial aid and waiving application fees, and becoming the first academic partner to the OneTen Initiative, which aims to create 1 million jobs for Black Americans without a college degree in the next 10 years.

More on Racial Equity
Picture of Terril Drake and students


A Moving Target with Clear Principles

HBS regularly revised its policies over the course of the year as Harvard, Boston, Cambridge, and Massachusetts modified COVID protocols to reflect the trajectory of the pandemic. The School never wavered on its guiding principles, prioritizing health and safety in planning and decision-making while supporting the residential campus.

Technology & Operations Management

Teaching & Learning Modifications

In Summer 2020 work began to design an innovative learning environment—leveraging technology and enhancements to the physical space—that could accommodate both in person and remote students. Following extensive experimentation, HBS launched the academic year with new hybrid classrooms that could seat up to 25 students in person and the rest remote, optimizing the experience for both groups through the addition of monitors and a custom Zoom interface. A smaller enrollment of 1609 MBA students—reflecting a generous deferral and leave policy—enrolled. Doctoral classes were held entirely online.

Health & Well-Being on Campus

Throughout the year, students, faculty, and staff participated in regular COVID testing protocols, wore masks at all times, and followed rigorous physical distancing policies. Dining facilities were de-densified to accommodate just one or two diners per table, with only grab-and-go food service available. Outdoor areas were designated where students could gather safely for cocurricular and social activities, provided they had a reservation and a guest list. Perhaps the most obvious changes on campus were the more than 6,000 signs added to remind people about room capacities, daily health attestations, and modified traffic flow patterns. Less visible but equally important were the upgrades to air filtration systems in all buildings, meeting or exceeding Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards.

Technology & Operations Management
Technology & Operations Management

Innovation in Executive Education

Executive Education was able to deliver all of its programs in virtual formats—including shorter, topic-focused and custom programs, as well as longer offerings such as the General Management Program. Faculty leveraged Zoom, asynchronous learning modules, and the HBS Live Online Classroom to create an engaged learning experience. The faculty and program staff experimented with reducing the size of discussion groups for better engagement, finding new ways for participants to network and socialize virtually, and increasing virtual access to case protagonists. Post-program surveys revealed very strong satisfaction scores.

Seven new programs were introduced, including Competing in the Age of AI, Competing in the Age of Digital Platforms, and Accelerating Board Diversity.

Creating Community in the Virtual Realm

The pandemic did not impede efforts to deepen community engagement as students, staff, faculty and alumni alike sought out new opportunities to connect. MBA student clubs hosted 24 virtual conferences with attendance in some cases far surpassing previous records. HBS Initiatives collectively hosted over 100 virtual events, leveraging the ability to more easily engage practitioners from around the world. Monthly all-staff meetings brought together over 500 staff to each session. And, throughout the year, the External Relations group curated lifelong learning programming and rich content to alumni around the world through 13 virtual events led by HBS faculty, reaching 37,000 participants.

Bringing Alumni Together Virtually

Virtual alumni reunion events in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021—featuring traditional sessions such as the Dean's Address and faculty presentations—drew more than 3,800 alumni. The experience also included more than 100 HBS-enabled, alumni-led virtual programs in the months beforehand.

Courses & Programs

112% increase in HBS Online Applications
70 virtual Executive Education programs
14,000 hybrid classroom hours across 16 classrooms

Harvard Business Publishing Leadership Change

Photo of David Wan In February 2021, Harvard Business Publishing announced the retirement of CEO David Wan (MBA 1981). Wan joined HBP in 2002 and helped transform the organization into a global leader in improving the practice of management and its impact in a changing world, growing revenues from approximately $90 million to $270 million. He successfully oversaw the publishing company's Higher Education, Corporate Learning, and Harvard Business Review groups through digital transformation and seismic market shifts.

Building RENAMED for James I. Cash

Photo of James I. Cash In September 2020, Harvard Business School announced it would honor James I. Cash, the James E. Robison Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, by renaming Glass House. The new Cash House name was unveiled in a community-wide event attended by faculty, staff, and students. At the event, then-Dean Nitin Nohria remarked, “Not only has he transcended many racial barriers in his own life, Jim Cash also has propelled generations of Black students, faculty, and staff, as well as scores of business leaders, to successful and meaningful lives and careers.” Following an extensive renovation, Cash House will become home to the newly created Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

More on Cash House Renaming

Doctoral Students Receive Awards

Four students were honored with the Wyss Award for Excellence in Doctoral Research and the Martin Award for Excellence in Business Economics.

Wyss Award for Excellence in Research

(named in honor of Hansjörg Wyss, MBA 1965)
Ximena Garcia-Rada, Marketing
Sourobh Ghosh, Technology & Operations Management
Alexa Scherf, Accounting & Management

Martin Award for Excellence in Business Economics

(established by Roger Martin, MBA 1981)
Francesca Bastianello, Business Economics

Doctoral Awards Press Release

Leadership change at Knowledge & Library Services

Photo of Debra Wallace Debra Wallace retired from her role as Executive Director of Knowledge and Library Services (KLS) at the end of June 2021, following 15 years of service. Wallace brought innovation to the stewardship of KLS as an information management hub for academics and business leaders on campus and around the world. She was widely respected as a leader among her University peers and in her field. Among her many accomplishments are the Library's organizational redesign, the introduction of web-based information products, and the expansion of the contemporary archival collections.

Library acquires New Collection

The new John Hawkins Research Interviews about Henri Termeer collection contains transcripts of research interviews conducted by Hawkins during the writing of his biography of Termeer, the former chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Genzyme Corp. The collection features 120 interviews with leaders in biotech, science, academia, and government, such as former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Dr. L. Rafael Reif, Harvard Medical School Dean Dr. George Daley, and Biogen Co-founder Dr. Phillip Sharp.

More on the John Hawkins Collection
Icon of a Library
Photo of Harvard Campus

CREATING A Sustainable Campus

FY21 marked a decade of intense focus on sustainability at HBS. During that time, HBS has been on the leading edge of sustainability efforts at Harvard University, with a School-wide sustainability plan drafted in 2012 and updated in 2016—ahead of the Harvard Sustainability Plan. At the core of the effort is a focus on careful stewardship of resources, which includes reducing emissions, waste, and energy and water use; implementing green operation standards in building and campus maintenance; and promoting healthy, smart, and sustainable dining options. The campus is a living laboratory for devising best practices and solutions to sustainable living, learning, and working on campus. Conservation measures yielded $29 million in estimated savings in the last decade, and also brought in $2 million in incentives and $130,000 from solar renewable energy credits.

More on Campus Sustainability

A Dean Transition

In December 2020, Nitin Nohria stepped down after more than 10 years at the helm of HBS. Accomplishments during his tenure include Harvard Business School Online, the Harvard Innovation Labs, the Field Method, new MS/MBA program offerings, building the faculty, and advancing racial equity, all under the umbrella of his 5 Is: Innovation in the School's educational programs; Intellectual ambition for widespread impact; Internationalization to build global knowledge, Inclusion to enhance culture and community, and Integration with Harvard University.

Srikant Datar became Dean on January 1, 2021 and, based on extensive conversations with faculty, staff, students, and alumni, articulated a series of aspirations and engines for the School, including reimagining the educational programs, business and society, research in action, digital transformation, partnering across Harvard, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Photo of Srikant Datar
Photo of desk

Interest in online learning surged

Learning Tracks Launched

HBS Online saw a surge of interest in online learning as a result of the pandemic. In May 2021, the group launched Learning Tracks to enable professionals to specialize in a particular subject area and develop deeper insights and expertise to advance their careers. Tracks include Leadership and Management and Strategy. Upon completion of three courses, learners are awarded a Certificate of Specialization.

Connecting at HBS Online Connext

HBS Online held its annual conference on May 7, 2021. Over 3,000 learners from across the globe gathered virtually for a day of networking, learning, and inspiration surrounding the theme “Navigating the Digital Frontier.”


Summer 2020 marked the first virtual version of the Program for Research in Markets and Organizations (PRIMO), a three-month program that introduces undergraduates to research and an academic career in management by partnering them with a faculty member to work on articles, cases, and other research projects. As part of the School's efforts to increase diversity in doctoral programs, in 2020 the program was open to any undergraduate student in good standing at an American college or university. This year's group of 17 Fellows included students from Wellesley College, Princeton University, Carleton College, and Georgia Institute of Technology.

New Venture Competition hosts 24th contest

Led by the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and the Social Enterprise Initiative, the New Venture Competition finale in March 2021 featured 22 student and alumni teams vying for $325,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. Since the competition's inception in 1997, there have been more than 6,500 participants, with more than $3 million awarded to the winning teams. Teams draw on an array of resources and support from across the School, including Entrepreneurs-in-Residence; the library; early stage feedback; and webinars with alumni, social entrepreneurs, and investors.

Winning teams:

Concord Materials, Hive Health, Shelly Xu Design (pictured), Vocal Justice, Bone Health Technologies, Kudos & Karivez Bio

Photo of Shelly Xu Design
New Venture Competition Press Release
Filming of Graduation Ceremony

Harvard Celebrates 111th Class Day & Graduation Ceremonies

The academic year culminated on May 27, 2021, as the School recognized and honored the Class of 2021, livestreaming Class Day celebrations and graduation ceremonies for the 787 students receiving MBA degrees as well as two students earning DBAs and 15 students earning PhD degrees. In addition to Dean Srikant Datar's address to the graduates, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Sara “Figes” McLoughlin Figel (MBA 2021) served as Class Day speakers.

Commencement Press Release

Dean's Awards Bestowed

Seven graduating students were honored with the Dean's Award, including Bukie Adebo, Abby Burcham, Ryan Flamerich, Alexis Jackson, Elina Rodriguez, and Ronnie Wimberley (all MBA 2021), and Lumumba Seegars (PhD in Organizational Behavior, 2021). The Dean's Award celebrates the achievements of graduates who have had an extraordinary impact on the School, University, or broader community.

MBA 2021

Bukie Adebo

MBA 2021

MBA 2021

Abby Burcham

MBA 2021

MBA 2021

Ryan Flamerich

MBA 2021

MBA 2021

Alexis Jackson

MBA 2021

MBA 2021

Elina Rodriguez

MBA 2021

MBA 2021

Lumumba Seegars

PhD 2021 Organizational Behavior

MBA 2021

Ronnie Wimberley

MBA 2021

Dean's Award Press Release

Faculty Recognized for Teaching & Academic Support

Five faculty members were recognized by graduating MBA students for their exceptional contributions to the HBS experience: members Malcolm Baker, Anthony Mayo, and Sophus Reinert for outstanding teaching in the Required Curriculum, and Kristin Mugford and Tom Nicholas for outstanding teaching in the Elective Curriculum.

Two HBS faculty members, Lakshmi Ramarajan and Robert Huckman, were recognized for their exceptional mentorship, collaboration, and support of students with the Wyss Award for Excellence in Doctoral Research. Adi Sunderam and Elizabeth Keenan were selected as runners-up. The student-led award recognizes faculty members for their commitment to developing future scholars.

Leadership Fellows CHOSEN

The Leadership Fellows Program strives to develop a network of HBS graduates—255 since the program's inception in 2001—with cross-sector experience who are committed to addressing societal issues throughout their careers.

  • Mae Abdelrahman, The Juilliard School
  • Landon Acriche, MBTA
  • Silvia Adam Reig, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
  • Prerna Arya, Harlem Children's Zone
  • Rebecca Braun, Boston Planning and Development Agency
  • Soltan Bryce, Boston Medical Center Health System
  • Sara Jetty, Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Justin Kim, Social Finance
  • Yogi Kurniawan, City of San Jose Mayor's Office
  • Jake Mayo, City of Boston Mayor's Office
  • Shani McKinney, Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Steven Povich, MBTA
  • Kelsey Roberts, City of Detroit
  • Anuja Samuel, Equal Justice Initiative
Leadership Fellows Press Release

Alumni Achievement Recognized

Each year Harvard Business School recognizes a small number of outstanding alumni by conferring on them its highest honor, the Alumni Achievement Award. Throughout their careers, these distinguished graduates have contributed significantly to their companies and communities while upholding the highest standards and values in everything they do. Exemplary role models, they inspire all those who aspire to have an impact on both business and society.

MBA 1973 Founder, Co-CIO & Chairman, Bridgewater Associates

Ray Dalio

MBA 1973 Founder, Co-CIO & Chairman, Bridgewater Associates

MBA 1933 (posthumous award)

H. Naylor Fitzhugh

MBA 1933 (posthumous award)

MBA 2003 Cofounder & Managing Partner, Sahel Capital Agribusiness

Mezuo Nwuneli

MBA 2003 Cofounder & Managing Partner, Sahel Capital Agribusiness Managers

MBA 1999 Cofounder & Managing Partner, Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli

MBA 1999 Cofounder & Managing Partner, Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition

GMP 11, 2011 Astronaut & NASA veteran of two spaceflights

Terry Virts

GMP 11, 2011 Astronaut & NASA veteran of two spaceflights

MBA 1985 Managing Director & Global Head of Social Impact, BlackRock, Inc.

Deborah Winshel

MBA 1985 Managing Director & Global Head of Social Impact, BlackRock, Inc.

More on Alumni Achievement Awards


  • Doris Bogues, External Relations
  • Lisa Gentile, Division of Research & Faculty Development
  • Robert R. Glauber, Professor of Business Administration
  • David F. Hawkins, Lovett-Learned Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus
  • Kenneth A. Kerr, Knowledge & Library Services
  • Keith Larson, External Relations
  • Jane McCormick, MBA Program
  • Barry O'Sullivan, Dean's House