Wyss House is named in honor of Hansjörg Wyss (MBA 1965) in recognition of his distinguished accomplishments and support.
Home to Harvard Business School’s Doctoral Programs, Wyss House (formerly Sherman Hall) was renovated in 2006 and rededicated to honor a visionary entrepreneur and generous supporter of Harvard University and higher education. The three-story Georgian Revival–style, stucco building, part of the original McKim, Mead & White campus plan, was constructed in 1925 to house faculty, but has been repurposed several times over the decades. The latest renovation, under the direction of Baker Design Group, Inc., targeted layout and energy efficiency, creating a green building that enhances opportunities for intellectual collaboration among doctoral candidates at HBS and with their counterparts in other Harvard PhD programs. The 6,290-square-foot facility includes state-of-the-art technology; administrative, meeting, and study space; as well as a kitchen and lounge. As renovated, Wyss House became the achieved the US Green Building Council’s LEED–NC Gold certification. Green construction highlights include 100 percent of electricity usage offset by Renewable Energy Certificates; 41 percent reduction in domestic water use; 96 percent of construction and demolition waste diverted from landfills; occupancy sensors in offices and conference rooms; maximum use of natural light; and energy-efficient heating and cooling.
About the Name
Originally named for John Sherman (1823-1900), secretary of the US treasury under President Rutherford B. Hayes from 1877 to 1881, Wyss House was rededicated in 2006 to honor Hansjörg Wyss (MBA 1965), chairman and former CEO of Synthes, Inc., a pioneering company in the field of medical technology and devices. In 2004, Wyss established the Hansjörg Wyss Endowment for Doctoral Education at HBS, a far-reaching gift that includes funding for doctoral student fellowships and stipends, field research, course development, teaching-skills training, awards for outstanding scholarship, and renovation of the doctoral facilities.
Wyss believes philanthropy should “bring change and influence people,” and he wanted to support the HBS Doctoral Programs because of their “tremendous influence, not only through the candidates educated here, but also through the thousands of students they eventually teach and the millions more who benefit from the research and new ideas they generate. I am proud to support this effort,” he said. Accepting the gift, Dean Kim B. Clark noted that the shortage of outstanding faculty is “one of the greatest challenges” that business schools face and by strengthening the Doctoral Programs, the Wyss gift would help the School “continue to produce world-class scholars and teachers who will go on to join the faculties of this and other universities around the globe.”
As chairman and CEO of Synthes, Inc., Wyss spearheaded the development of a $2.3 billion, 8,500-employee international company that revolutionized the orthopedic device market and changed the surgical approach to healing broken bones. A native of Bern, Switzerland, Wyss graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 1959 and began his career at Chrysler Corporation, where he set up manufacturing plants worldwide before enrolling at HBS. After HBS and nine years of experience in multinational corporations, he became intrigued with a Swiss company run by four doctors who had developed a new process to help bones heal more quickly and with better results. In 1977 Wyss became president of Synthes USA, where he was responsible for expanding the company’s manufacturing operations, sales force, and training for surgeons in the United States and internationally. Today Synthes instruments, implants, and bone-healing techniques are in use in hospitals around the globe. Wyss stepped down as CEO in 2007.
While successfully navigating the complexities of his highly competitive industry, Wyss, a pilot, lifelong hiker, and environmentalist, has demonstrated a passionate commitment to conservation and the preservation of natural resources. Involved in many HBS initiatives, he has facilitated the development of environmental management cases and supported the School’s social enterprise efforts, establishing the Hansjörg Wyss Visiting Scholars Fund in 2003. In 2007, he received the School’s highest honor, the Alumni Achievement Award.
In 1998, Wyss established the Wyss Foundation—a private, charitable foundation dedicated to supporting innovative, lasting solutions that improve lives, empower communities, and strengthen connections to the land. Wyss’ 2009 endowment of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering was the largest philanthropic gift in Harvard’s history, which he doubled in 2013 to further advance the institute’s pioneering work. The institute supports fundamental, cross-disciplinary research at Harvard and affiliated institutions by leaders in the fields of engineering, medicine, biology, and the physical sciences.