15 Apr 2022

Cash House Dedication Ceremony Celebrates Dr. James Cash


by Shona Simkin

On Monday, April 11, 2022, members of the Harvard Business School (HBS) and greater Harvard University communities joined Dr. James I. Cash and his friends and family in a dedication ceremony for Cash House. The building’s name celebrates and honors the contributions of Dr. Cash, the James E. Robison Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus.

Dean Srikant Datar was joined by former Dean Nitin Nohria and Harvard University President Larry Bacow in delivering remarks. After welcoming the crowd and Cash’s family, Datar noted Cash’s many accomplishments as a professor, business leader, scholar, author, and leader in anti-racism efforts at the Boston Celtics, where he’s a part-owner, and beyond, including HBS.

“In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Jim has played an invaluable role as an advisor in mobilizing our community to develop the Racial Equity Plan,” said Datar. “Jim held us to high standards. He kept us honest and focused. And he offered unwavering support. Jim is not someone who waits on the sidelines; he personally committed to joining the School's first Racial Equity Advisory Board, and has been deeply engaged in our follow-on efforts. We simply could not have done what we have done without Jim, and we know that we still have much work ahead.”

Cash’s tremendous accomplishments, continued Datar, do not entirely capture the qualities that make him so highly respected. “To my mind, it is this: He inspires you—indeed requires you—to be your best self,” he said. “Pause on that notion for a moment. Jim makes you stand taller, reach further, dream bigger. So many of us here are the beneficiaries of the standard Jim holds for us.”

Former Dean Nitin Nohria recounted his deep friendship and admiration for Cash and spoke of the importance of representation—how all members of the HBS community should see themselves in the buildings they encounter on campus.

“While buildings are, in the end, symbols, they are important symbols of belonging,” said Nohria. “To all our African American friends and colleagues who didn’t know if Harvard Business School was a place that would welcome them, Cash House, I hope, will make you recognize that yes, you belong here. This is an institution for you.”

To honor Cash appropriately, Nohria noted, the real work must occur within the building. “I hope that the work Harvard Business School is known for is not a function of the names that stand on the buildings, but the work that we do. That is the only way that we can honor Jim. Jim, thank you for all the extraordinary ways you have been a role model for us and I hope this building will continue to inspire generations of people to be more like Jim.”

Bacow then recalled his more recent friendship with the Cash family, and spoke of Cash’s decency, grace, and kindness as qualities equal to his distinguished accomplishments.

“In naming this building for Jim today we recognize and honor a truly extraordinary career. But I would also like to think that we’re honoring Jim for something much more than that—his character. His deep decency, for his integrity,” said Bacow. “May everyone who studies here at Harvard Business School, may everyone who works here at Harvard Business School, may everyone who teaches here at Harvard Business School, aspire to live up to the example that you have set for all of us. In many ways today we are not honoring you, rather you are honoring us by letting us put your name on this building.”

In concluding the ceremony, Cash thanked Datar, Nohria, and Bacow, and described how he has attempted to lead his life guided by one simple tenet: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

“I hope if there’s one thing that gets said about what my wife Clemmie has inspired me to do, that my kids Derek and Tari have inspired me to do, it’s to not do a lot of talking, but to preach the gospel by my efforts to serve so many of you that are here today,” said Cash.

Building names are symbolically important, said Cash, but the real work is the lived experiences of the students and those we come into contact with. “It’s through those lived experiences that we can make this world a better place. I will never lose my optimism. Having grown up the way Clemmie and I did in the Jim Crow South, in intensely segregated environments, and looking at the assembly of people here today and what you represent…you are the people that will make a difference.”

The dedication ceremony was followed by a panel discussion on the role of business in society, moderated by Cash, with Kenneth C. Frazier, executive chairman and former CEO of Merck;

Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart; Indra Nooyi, former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo; and Debora Spar, Jaime and Josefina Chua Tiampo Professor of Business Administration and senior associate dean, Business and Global Society.

One of 12 original buildings on the HBS campus, Cash House was designed as a faculty residence by architects McKim, Mead & White and completed in 1926. The three-story 7,563-square-foot stucco and brick, Georgian Revival-style structure was re-named in 2020 to celebrate and honor Cash’s contributions.

The recently renovated building features bright and airy space for the School’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Executive Education program staff, and is home to the most recent addition to the HBS Art Collection, an oil painting of Cash by renowned artist Gale Fulton Ross. One of the first campus construction projects completed after the launch of the HBS Racial Equity Plan, the renovation reflects the Operations team’s efforts to partner with minority-owned businesses and bolster job site diversity.

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