How tough has it been to raise money in this environment? “When you are excited about what your doing, it’s a lot easier to raise money,” says Lyons. “I was an undergrad here. This is the place that made me become an academic. I was a business major as an undergrad and went on to study economics in graduate school. So I am selling into the passion of my life.
“As a school, we’ve sharpened our narrative. People say nobody is going to give you $10 million unless you have a $10 million idea. But having a sharper narrative going into this has been really helpful. I don’t want to undersell because it is still a tough environment. It’s not like the money is blowing in the door. But it makes this conversation a lot easier.”
MBA PROGRAM EXPANSION ALSO MADE MORE LIKELY DUE TO RECENT GOVERNANCE CHANGES
The expansion of the school’s full-time MBA program also was made more likely, said Lyons, due to a recent decision by the university chancellor in the way tuition revenue gets shared between the business school and the university.
Of the six degree programs run by the school, three have been self-supporting: the school’s evening and weekend MBA program, a master’s of finance program, and the joint Haas-Columbia EMBA program. The remaining three: the full-time MBA, the a PhD program and the undergraduate program have been state-supported.
For self-supporting programs, Haas has been able to retain 85% of the tuition from these programs and remits the remaining 15% back to the university. For state-supported programs, Haas must hand over half of the tuition to the university, though it also receives some financial support from the state.
Lyons will now be able to shift any increase in its full-time MBA program effectively into the self-supporting bucket. “Going forward, for any increase in revenues we’ll do an 85/15 split,” says Lyons. “This is a big deal for us. The governance freedom makes a lot of sense. It’s fundamental especially because our program is very, very small. We are admitting only 11 or 12%. In the last several years, over 80% of the people who apply with GMATs of 750 or above are not getting in. The work experience isn’t there or the interview doesn’t go well.“
Under Lyons leadership, the school has made a large bet on culture as a way to develop leaders who redefine how business gets done. The school has adopted four defining principles and changed its admissions policy and curriculum in support of them. They are:
1) Question the status quo – “We lead by championing bold ideas, taking intelligent risks, and accepting sensible failures. This means speaking our minds even when it challenges convention. We thrive at the world’s epicenter of innovation.”
2) Confidence without attitude – “We make decisions based on evidence and analysis, giving us the confidence to act without arrogance. We lead through trust and collaboration.”
3) Students always – “We are a community designed for curiosity and the lifelong pursuit of personal and intellectual growth. This is not a place for those who feel they have learned all they need to learn.”
4) Beyond yourself – “We shape our world by leading ethically and responsibly. As stewards of our enterprises, we take the longer view in our decisions and actions. This often means putting larger interests above our own.”