HBS Seeks To Raise Record $1 Billion

Harvard Business School launches a record $1 billion capital campaign

Harvard Business School launches a record $1 billion capital campaign

Harvard Business School today (April 25) publicly launched a capital campaign to raise $1 billion over the next five years, the largest amount of money to ever be raised by a business school.

The school said it has already gained more than $600 million in gifts and pledges as part of the campaign’s “quiet phase,” which began in 2012. The overall goal is part of Harvard University’s $6.5 billion campaign announced last September.

Though the campaign was no secret, the actual target number had been kept under wraps until now. At $1 billion, it is the most ambitious fundraising goal for a school of business in history–and it is being made at an institution that already has the largest endowment of any business school in the world, roughly $2.9 billion, and the highest level of assets, more than $3.8 billion. Columbia Business School, in contrast, has an endowment of $568 million.


This is the fourth campaign since the School’s founding in 1908. The last HBS campaign brought in $600 million between 2000 and 2005. The school said that HBS funds raised from this new campaign will support priorities such as student financial aid, faculty research, globalization, and curricular innovation, as well as enhancements to the school’s residential campus.

HBS, which spent $542 million to run itself in 2013, is just one of many business schools in the midst of major fundraising campaigns. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is $200 million into a $350 million fundraising goal. Columbia Business School is in the midst of a campaign to raise $500 million to fund the construction of an entirely new campus. The school raised $209 million in fiscal 2013 alone.  London Business School is currently trying to raise $160 million.

The massive size of the Harvard campaign, however, will surely raise eyebrows among rivals who believe that HBS has vast resources that make it nearly impossible to compete against. Only the day before the HBS announcement, the school broke ground on a new executive education facility that would be its 35th building on the B-school campus. Harvard Business School also is already giving out $32 million in fellowship aid to its roughly 1,800 MBA students. But in a new multi-media section of its website devoted to the campaign, it makes clear that even students who receive fellowship money from HBS graduate with an average $70,000 to $75,000 in debt.

The new site features videos, photos and illustrations, including a clip of Professor Clay Christensen speaking about the impact of a fellowship that he had received on his life. Another video of Youngme Moon, the academic head of the MBA program, makes the point that business education is important in all areas of society from health care and education to social enterprise (see here: Youngme Moon.)

The kickoff took place on campus with hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends participating in a day-long series of events that featured case discussions and faculty-led student and alumni panels on a wide range of business topics. In the evening, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria, and Campaign Chair John Hess (MBA 1977), CEO of Hess Corporation, offered remarks.


“What truly distinguishes Harvard Business School is our capacity to continually innovate,” said Dean Nohria. “We see a challenge or an opportunity and we can respond quickly but thoughtfully to develop a novel solution. This is what led to the launch of the MBA degree, the first management case study in 1912, and the retraining programs that ultimately became Executive Education after World War II. Our faculty has developed breakthrough research ideas that have shaped management practice for decades. In short, we have been unafraid to anticipate and respond to changes in the world around us. Our vision is to continue to embrace these two capacities: to hold fast to the characteristics we most cherish, and to be bold— even relentless—in innovating for a better future.”

In recent years, HBS has introduced the field method, a complement to the case method, in the MBA curriculum; a cornerstone of that effort is Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD), a year-long course during which all first-year MBA students travel to emerging market countries to develop their international intelligence. Earlier this year, the school announced the launch of HBX, a digital learning platform that will extend its reach and impact around the world. The campaign will emphasize the importance of flexible funding to support these and other innovations across the School.

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