NEWS RELEASE, 09/21/98

Haas School of Business celebrates centennial year with "Birthday Bash" Sat., Sept. 26.

By Jacqueline Frost, Public Affairs

Business education was a new field of study when the University of California, Berkeley, founded the "College of Commerce" a century ago.

School founders had to look abroad to Europe and Japan for models of commercial study. Today, as the former "College of Commerce," now called the Haas School of Business, celebrates its 100th anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 26, the school is one the nation's leaders in business education, research and innovation.

The first curriculum, drafted in 1898 by Carl Copping Plehn, the college's first dean, reflected its liberal arts tradition as well as its international focus.

Students in those first classes were urged to study Chinese, Japanese or -- starting in 1910 -- Russian in addition to courses in commercial ethics, legal studies, political studies and philosophy. The Haas School has maintained its rich history of interdisciplinary involvement.

"No other business school in the world has quite the same access to leading faculty in engineering, information systems, biosciences, political science, economics and law that we have at Berkeley," said Laura D'Andrea Tyson, the new dean of the Haas School.

"Business today is interdisciplinary in the best sense of the word; business education must be more so."

While the school expanded steadily during its 100-year history, it was over the last two decades that it took its original mission to new heights in terms of program, student and research excellence.

During this period, the school increased its number of endowed chairs and distinguished professorships to 41 and created a dozen new interdisciplinary research institutes, centers and programs in technology, health care, finance, trading, nonprofit management and entrepreneurship.

In 1989, the school received what was then the largest gift ever to the University of California from the Haas family in San Francisco as a cornerstone gift toward the school's new home on the eastern edge of the UC Berkeley campus. The school was renamed in honor of Walter A. Haas Sr., the late president of Levi Strauss & Co., who was a 1910 graduate of the College of Commerce.

"The new building united all the school's activities for the first time and provided students and faculty with high-tech facilities that encouraged the kind of communication and teamwork essential to modern professional education," said William A. Hasler, who was dean at the time it opened in 1995.

In May of this year, Tyson was named dean of the Haas School. The former chief economic advisor to President Bill Clinton, Tyson plans to expand the faculty and provide them with more support. She also plans to position the school to enter the new millennium as an "unusually entrepreneurial campus unit, able to make a new level of financial and intellectual contributions to the campus.

"With more than 20 applicants for each seat in our MBA classrooms, Haas is now among the top two US business schools in selectivity," Tyson said. "The reason for that has to do with the school's unique interdisciplinary focus on international business, technology and entrepreneurial innovation."

Some of the Haas School's highlights include:

  • In 1994, Haas Professor John Harsanyi won the Nobel Prize in economics (with Reinhard Selten of Bonn, Germany, and John Nash of Princeton University) for his contributions to the study of game theory, a significant tool for analyzing how people make decisions in real-life competitive situations such as labor negotiations, international conflicts, price wars, and federal auctions.
  • In 1997, the Haas School established the first-ever professorship in knowledge. Professor Ikujiro Nonaka, Haas MBA '68 and Ph.D. '72, dean of the Japan Advanced Institute for Science and Technology and author of The Knowledge-Creating Company, is the first to hold the Xerox Distinguished Professorship in Knowledge.
  • The Haas School has a strong commitment to government service. A record number of Haas faculty have worked for the Clinton Administration. They include Laura Tyson, former National Economic Advisor; Janet Yellen, former member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and current chair of the Council of Economic Advisors; Michael Katz, former chief economist at the Federal Communications Commission; and Carl Shapiro, former deputy assistant attorney general for antitrust.
  • Competition for entry to the MBA program is getting stiffer. The second most selective business school in the world, the Haas School last year admitted 459 students from a total of 4,162 applicants.
  • The Haas School has a long list of distinguished alumni. It includes: Don Fisher, founder of the GAP; Walter Haas Sr., late president of Levi Strauss & Co.; Rudolph Peterson, former president and CEO of Bank of America and head of the United Nations Development Programme; Eugene Trefethen, late president of Kaiser Industries; Michael Chetkovich, late president of Deloitte and Touche; Robert Lutz, vice chairman of Chrysler Corporation; Rick Cronk, president of Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream; and Paul Hazen, CEO of Wells Fargo.
  • The spirit of entreprenuership is thriving -- especially among students. In 1996 alone, fifteen Haas students started their own Internet businesses before they graduated.

"The Haas School has been unusual in recent years in its embrace of technology and the sheer numbers of entrepreneurial businesses created by recent graduates, especially in electronic commerce," said John Freeman, Helzel Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Alumni, students and faculty will celebrate the Haas School 100th birthday with champagne and birthday cake on Sat., Sept. 26, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Haas School Courtyard.

The school will present articles of a time capsule to be opened in 2098. Among the dozens of items to be placed in the capsule are: a videotape of Alan Greenspan's lecture in September, photographs of student life, essays, magazines, predictions of the business world in 2098, microprocessors, a history of the school's first 100 years, a copy of the letter from Cora Jane Flood making her initial gift to the school and the regents' response, a list of new product ideas and a hard hat used in the construction of the new building.

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