UC Berkeley News


Largest-ever gift to Haas School of Business is announced
$25 million gift from real-estate mogul Gerson Bakar will add five new faculty members. Dean Campbell calls it 'a powerful boost'

| 10 October 2007

At least five new faculty positions will be created at the Haas School of Business with a $25 million gift from alumnus Gerson Bakar, a prominent San Francisco real-estate developer, announced Tom Campbell, the school's dean, this week.

The gift is the largest individual donation in the Haas School's history. It will enable the school to increase its full-time, permanent-faculty roster to 86 members within a few years - bringing those ranks to an all-time high. The search for the new faculty members, who will be drawn from areas such as accounting, public policy, economics, finance, marketing, operations and information technology, organizational behavior, and real estate, will begin this fall.

To honor Bakar, the Haas School will name its faculty wing the Gerson Bakar Faculty Building.

"Gerson Bakar's extraordinary generosity will permit the school to hire the most talented scholars and teachers in the world," said Campbell, Bank of America Dean of the Haas School. "With these additional faculty members, the school can improve its ratio of faculty to students - a major goal of the school - and offer more and a wider variety of courses to our students."

"This is an extremely powerful boost for the Haas School to remain among the very best business schools in the world," he added.

The new faculty members will be called Gerson Bakar Faculty Fellows.

Campbell also noted that the gift will bring the Haas School closer to its goal of financial self-sufficiency by turning the funds into an endowment that will pay for the new faculty salaries in perpetuity. With state funds supplying less than 25 percent of the school's budget this year, the school must rely on private donations and student fees to pay the salaries of many of its faculty and staff, and to provide essential academic and other student services.

When asked why he made this gift, Bakar said, "Just as I was helped by past benefactors to the university, I am pleased to be able to help the students who will be the future leaders of our society."

Bakar's gift was originally announced as an anonymous gift in August 2005. At the time, the gift was planned for the construction of a new building. In 2007, school officials, with Bakar's support, redirected Bakar's gift to faculty development.

Bakar, who received a bachelor of science degree from Berkeley's business school in 1948, began his career in real estate right after graduating. The development that catapulted him into the national spotlight was Woodlake, a 1,000-unit, multi-family housing complex in San Mateo completed in 1965. Since this was the first garden-apartment community built with extensive recreational facilities, it was considered a breakthrough in American housing and has been copied many times.

Bakar subsequently developed a new facility for Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco that has been called "a gift to the city." Other landmarks he has developed include San Francisco's Northpoint Apartments and Mall, Stanford's Oak Creek Apartments, Carmel Plaza in Carmel, and Park Newport in Newport Beach.

Bakar has been an adviser and consultant to the Haas School for more than 20 years and has served several terms on the school's advisory board. He also was a founding member and continues to serve on the advisory board of the Haas School's Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics. In 2007, friends and colleagues of Bakar's established the Gerson Bakar-Fisher Center Policy Advisory Board Real Estate Scholarship in his honor. Each year, the fund provides a $10,000 merit scholarship to a UC Berkeley M.B.A. student with entrepreneurial drive and a passion for real estate.

In 1978, Bakar was the keynote speaker at the Haas School graduation. He was honored as the Haas School's Alumnus of the Year in 1991.

Bakar and his wife, Barbara, were actively involved in Berkeley's Keeping the Promise Campaign (1985-90) and the Campaign for the New Century (1993-2000). He is a lifetime member of the California Alumni Association and a supporter of Berkeley's athletics program and library.