Burden Seats Get New Life
How does a school of management manage itself? Here is the latest installment of a new series called Up Close, featuring the day-to-day work of the School and the people who do it.
07 Feb 2018   Christian Camerota

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Harvard Business School’s auditorium of more than 50 years, Burden Hall, closed in 2017 to make way for the School’s new Klarman Hall convening center, which will open next fall. But Burden’s closure on campus marks a new beginning for another structure some 7,000 miles away.

The story starts with Wilberforce Kateregga, who emigrated from his small hometown in the Mukono district of Uganda to Waltham, Mass., in 1999. While Kateregga loved and found success in the US, he kept his hometown in mind and close to his heart as well.

“I come from a rural and remote area in Uganda, and I grew up in a poor environment,” Kateregga said. “When I came to this country, I felt so blessed. So I decided to become a blessing to my community in Uganda. I have a vision and a dream to help other people who can’t help themselves.”

In 2006, Kateregga started in on that dream by founding Waltham College, a day and boarding school in Mukono (but named after his new hometown in the US) for needy children and orphans who can’t afford public school fees. What began with 50 students six years ago has since grown to serve about 200 high school-aged Ugandan youths.

“In Uganda, we have free primary education up to seventh grade,” Kateregga explained. “But a free high school is not as common. I used to walk 10 miles every day just to go to mine. And many people in my area of the country have died of AIDS and left orphans who can’t [provide for themselves]. So, I saw the need in my area and decided to start a high school so those children could have a chance.”

Because of the school’s success to date, it is constantly expanding. The latest expansion will include the addition of an auditorium to host seminars, conferences, movies, and even theater productions. There was just one problem: finding somewhere for everyone to sit. Fortunately, Kateregga’s network in the US and a connection to Harvard offered him an excellent solution.

“A while ago, I heard about the recycling department of Harvard University and a wonderful man named Rob Gogan,” Kateregga said. “I told him about Waltham College, and he was interested and offered to help. He told us, ‘If you need things, we can give them to you.’ It started with mattresses, furniture, and computers. Most of the things we have in our school are from Harvard University.”

Now those things will include 755 chairs from Burden Hall, which Kateregga and a friend spent several days packing into a 40-foot shipping container like pieces into a puzzle. Along with additional lighting and tables from Burden Hall, the chairs will travel by boat for two to three months across the Atlantic Ocean to Mombasa in Kenya and from there by land to their new home in Uganda. In total, Kateregga’s organization will be shipping 30,000 pounds of materials more than 7,000 miles. Despite the logistics that entails, Kateregga said, it is well worth the effort.

“I want to thank Harvard University and Mr. Rob Gogan for being so generous,” Kateregga said. “It’s such a blessing to have this connection. I think our place is going to look great, and the students are all so excited. They know where everything is coming from.”


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