02 May 2014
Harvard Business School Hosts Largest-Ever MBA Fellowship Celebration
(LtoR): Zach Lupei, Nisha Phatak, Kristen McNutt, Elaine Goodman, and Daniel Lennox Choate (all MBA 2015)
Photo: Susan Young

Set to the backdrop of a transformed Shad Hall, Harvard Business School hosted some 600 alumni donors and students at the annual MBA Fellowship Celebration. It was a record turnout for what has become a highly anticipated and beloved rite of spring at HBS, bringing donors together with the very students who benefit from their generosity. By design, this year’s event was staged in parallel with the launch of The Harvard Business School Campaign, for which financial aid is a top priority.

“The most personal impact a donor can have with a gift is a fellowship,” said Dean Nitin Nohria, Fellowships enable Harvard Business School to sustain need-blind admissions, ensuring that the students with the greatest potential will be able to attend. They also allow students to pursue a broader set of career options at graduation by reducing educational debt. Those students, in turn, are free to apply their management skills in sectors that may not otherwise be able to pay them a competitive wage, for example health care, education, government, public sector, and nonprofit jobs,.

In the current academic year, 47 percent of MBA students received need-based fellowships, with an average award of $31,000, nearly 50 percent of the tuition and fees per year. The total cost of attending HBS today, including living expenses, is estimated to be $91,200 annually.

The recipients of fellowships enrich the classroom with their experiences. The students come from a broad range of backgrounds:

  • 35 percent of the Class of 2015 are international in origin;
  • 41 percent are women, 19 percent come from the consulting field;
  • 18 percent from the venture capital and private equity fields;
  • 11 percent from high tech/communications;
  • 6 percent from health care/biotech;
  • 7 percent from nonprofit fields ;
  • 7 percent from manufacturing; and
  • 5 percent from the military.

“Diversity of voices in the classroom is the bedrock of our case method pedagogy,” said Dee Leopold (MBA 1980), Managing Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid at HBS. “Our classroom discussions are made richer and deeper by the different perspectives of our students. Through debate and constructive confrontation, students articulate alternate points of view and learn from each other,” said Robert Steven Kaplan, Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration.

Fellowship recipients Zach Lupei (MBA 2014) and Kristen McNutt (MBA 2014) are part of the same discussion group at HBS, but came from very different backgrounds.

Lupei, an engineer, was working for spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX right out of college, but was drawn to the financial part of the business. “I love the work I did there, but on the side, I was doing all this finance and it was something I felt like I couldn’t ignore,” he said.

Coming to HBS was a childhood dream for McNutt, who had been a volunteer in schools and plans to focus on the education sector when she graduates. “I came to Harvard Business School to further develop my business skills and then bring that to the education industry,” she said.

Each fellowship recipient at HBS has their own story of how financial aid has changed their lives. Here are just a few more: www.alumni.hbs.edu/fellowships

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