Haas Plans Major Campus Expansion

The Haas School of Business is planning a major $50 million expansion of the school’s campus at UC-Berkeley that will likely result in an increase in the size of Haas’ full-time MBA program.

Dean Richard Lyons, now in the fourth year of a five-year contract, said he has raised half of the $50 million required to break ground on a new 65,000 square foot building. The new structure, to be located where a university child care center now sits, would be used for classrooms, breakout rooms, a new cafeteria and a large event space.

In an interview with Poets&Quants, Lyons said the new building would allow Haas to increase the size of its full-time MBA program, which is now among the smallest at the elite schools. Haas currently enrolls 240 full-time MBAs a year and would most likely expand to 300 once the building is up and running.


Berkeley has long been among the most selective business schools in the world, admitting only 11% of its applicants. Lyons told P&Q that more than 80% of applicants with GMATs of 750 or above are being turned down for admission. So an increase to 300 or above would do nothing to dilute the high quality of MBA students Haas has been able to attract.

Lyons also did not rule out the possibility that Haas could add a second Executive MBA program in addition to its current joint partnership EMBA with Columbia University in New York. “This new building will give us some real options,” says Lyons.

The additional room is needed, believes Lyons, because when the school moved into its current location on the Berkeley campus in 1995 the school had a total of 1,300 graduate, executive and undergraduate students. Now there are some 2,200 students in six degree programs using the same facilities. Lyons said the school also intends to invest another $20 million to transform its courtyard into what he called “an active outdoor area” where student projects could be done. The school is also repurposing some 20,000 square feet of library space, says Lyons.

The new four-story building would be constructed at the current location of Girton Hall, a one-story wooden structure designed by well-known architect Julia Morgan. The building, which had been moved to the east entrance of the campus in the 1940s, will be moved again to make room for the Haas expansion.


Lyons says he has so far raised $25 million and has another $13 million out in proposals. Among other things, he is looking for three $10 million donors, each of whom would have their names on parts of the new building. Lyons has one $10 million commitment from an alum in the real estate development business. He is hoping to break ground by the end of 2012, though under university rules, he cannot do so until the building is fully funded.

  • blake

    That argument is totally misleading. Last time i checked the overall acceptance rate is ~12%. So while a 20% acceptance rate for a GMAT of 750 or above seems low at first glance, it nearly doubles your chances of getting into the school. Haas is like any other top ten school…GMAT is important.

  • Jon

    Not all students with GMATs of 750 or over were Indian or Chinese. I can think of a bunch of people, myself included, who fit in that category.

  • This should be obvious

    Rich Lyons is an excellent dean. Not sure if I feel the same way about Haas Admissions or some of their students, but any institution would be lucky to have Rich. Look up some of his talks on YouTube – he is an excellent business thinker and we’ve followed some of his ideas in our business, with excellent results.

  • Raghu,

    What Dean Lyons is essentially saying is that Haas isn’t overly reliant on GMAT scores. That is why the school is routinely turning down for admissions more than 80% of the applicants who have GMAT scores of 750 or above. They’re being rejected because the school is looking at their applications more holistically–the quality of their work and leadership experiences, their involvement in extracurricular activities that are meaningful, their ability to communicate in admission interviews, and finally their alignment with the school’s cultural values. So don’t feel distressed. Be delighted that this is how Haas is sorting through its highly qualified applicants.

  • I find it distressing to note the over- reliance on GMAT scores. There is more to an applicant than the GMAT. What does a GMAT greater that 750 signify? It’s a sad state of affairs.

  • jay

    “Lyons told P&Q that more than 80% of applicants with GMATs of 750 or above are being turned down for admission. ”

    I’m guessing that pool is comprised of mostly Indian/Chinese applicants from abroad. Unfortunately, those students likely won’t make the cut even if Haas does expand its program. It’s an uphill battle for them, especially when adcoms boast about how many high GMAT applicants they reject.

  • SOMer

    Totally saw this coming! This is great for them!