Peter Johnson worked at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business for 11 years, rising to become executive director of MBA admissions before leaving in 2010. Six years later, he’s come back as the newly appointed assistant dean for the full-time MBA program and admissions.
Johnson loved being at Haas, he says, but wanted to explore other places; he was particularly drawn to Europe. For four years he served as vice president of student services at Central European University in Budapest, but with elderly parents he knew it was time to be closer to home.
A position at Dominican University of California gave him the opportunity too return to the U.S. Then the job opened up at Haas. His former colleagues reached out, and he was thrilled to return. His first day back in Berkeley was June 1.
REFLECTING THE HAAS BRAND
Two years before Johnson left Haas, Dean Richard Lyons introduced four defining principles of the school:
- Question the status quo
- Confidence without attitude
- Students always
- Beyond yourself
“They weren’t new principles,” Johnson says. “They were reflections of what students had been like for years, but now we were consciously saying that those were the things we were looking for.”
Johnson says he intends to focus on aligning program staff and the admissions team to bring in classes that reflect what he calls “the Haas brand” — and to make sure admissions searches effectively for candidates with the four core principles.
It begins with the application itself, Johnson says. Already, candidates are asked to explain how their experiences demonstrate the four principles. Only a few days into his new role, Johnson believes it’s too early to tell if he’ll make any changes to the application, but he knows finding candidates who appreciate the school’s cultural values is his goal.
MORE STUDENTS IN COMING YEARS
Another challenge Johnson is preparing to face: an expected increase in student population. The school is constructing a new building, and once the work is complete, Haas plans to bring more people in.
Johnson says the goal is to increase the number of students without impacting their learning experience negatively. The school wants to keep classes small and professors accessible. At the moment, he expects each cohort (there are four cohorts in each year) to increase by about 15 students for an overall increase of 15%, which would bring the entering class to 280 students.