Stanford: New Campus to Increase Yield


Stanford University Graduate School of Business Dean Garth Saloner said he believes the school’s new $345 million campus will increase the number of admits who choose Stanford over other schools and ultimately lead to a rise in applications at what is already the most selective business school in the U.S.

“I am very sure that yield is going up,” Saloner told Poets&Quants in an interview. Yield is the term for the percentage of admitted applicants who accept a school’s offer to attend.  The school reporting the highest yield is Harvard Business School where roughly 91% of accepted applicants enroll. Stanford is right behind Harvard, with an estimated yield of about 80%.

“There is no doubt in my mind that students who come and take a look will want to come to Stanford,” added Saloner. “We have a new innovative curriculum, all the general positives about Stanford, and now you put it in this home that the school has deserved. So it will show up there. And it will show up in applications down the road. Once people see it, we’ll experience some impact from it.”

Last year, Stanford accepted only 488 of 7,204 applicants, an acceptance rate of only 6.8%. Harvard, by contrast, accepted 11.2% of its applicants, while Columbia Business School accepted 15.3% (See article on the 50 most selective full-time MBA programs in the U.S.)

The new Knight Management Center, named after Nike founder and Stanford MBA alum Phil Knight, is a complex of eight new, separate buildings created around three quadrangles. Knight put up $105 million toward the cost of the new center. Together with a residential center, the B-school now has nine world-class buildings versus only four before. (See a slideshow of visual images of the new campus.) Stanford, which had lagged behind peer institutions in the quality of its facilities for years, now has one of the most attractive and technologically up-to-date campuses of any business school in the world.

The complex gives Stanford’s B-School some 360,000 square feet of space, roughly 30 percent more than it had in its previous location. There are now 13 tiered classrooms, up from 11, 20 flat-floored classrooms, up from eight, and 70 breakout and study rooms, a huge improvement from 28 windowless classrooms previously (The earlier buildings were designed at a time when some felt a window could distract students in class.) The larger number of breakout rooms, in particular, will help the school to more effectively deliver its new curriculum that emphasizes smaller greater collaboration and more seminar-style courses.

Despite the increased space, Saloner said there are no plans to increase the size of the school’s relatively small MBA program, which has an enrollment of just under 800 students—far below Harvard’s 1,840 or Wharton’s 1,687.

“We have room to grow,” said Saloner. “But we don’t have plans to grow the core MBA program at this time. It has nothing to do with space. It has to do with what we think is the special character of the program which relies on a degree of intimacy and personalization. And we just don’t want to mess with that basic formula.”

In an interview on Friday (April 29), a day filled with opening festivities for the new campus, Saloner said the switch to the new facilities already is having an impact on the school’s collaborative, close-knit culture. “We did nothing in physical space to reinforce what is the core value of this place which is that you bring this incredible group of students and faculty together who just thrive off each other,” said Saloner. “And we spoke about collaboration but we didn’t have collaborative space. We did it despite ourselves. Now we have the space to match our personality and our values and I do think it is a really transformative, it’s taking this whole collaborative culture to the next level.”

Students agree. “It’s a big step closer to this small, intimate community,” said Lindsey Barnes, a second-year MBA student who will work for Boston Consulting Group after graduation. “Now when you leave your classroom, everyone comes to one central area. They stay much longer, brainstorm much longer and want to be together much longer. It’s a welcoming village now.”

  • Guiseppe

    $345 million to increase a few percentage points in yield, wouldn’t this be indeed a very costly practice? Surely there are other efficient measures to address yield (not that GSB really needs to) as done successfully by other BSchools. I think the expansion in executive education is more telling. The so called ‘fluid exchange’ with other Stanford departments will be tiny. Without expanding the class of its FT MBA programme, it is just PR talk.

  • Bruce Vann

    Dang, Arthur!! lol

  • Arthur Featherstonehaugh Dullsworthy

    I don’t think so. In nearly all respects GSB is as competitive as nearly any school could hope to be. When Stanford loses admits to HBS, it happens because HBS is unique in ways that no fancier campus could ever compete with. In any case, this new campus supposedly serves the educational mission. Does everything that serves the educational mission have an effect on yield? Perhaps it drives an even lower admit rate but yield stays the same because there’s always the siren song of case method on the Charles? Did Saloner actually mention yield? As in, a journalist wants to know why Stanford, already the most selective of the b-schools doesn’t also have the highest yield? Says more about the journalists obsessions and inability to understand GSB’s mission.