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HBS Surpasses $1 Billion Fundraising Goal

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria

After surpassing an unprecedented $1 billion capital campaign goal a year early, Harvard Business School announced that it plans to raise another $300 million before the official campaign ends in 2018. The $1 billion-plus campaign is the largest by any business school and the new target exceeds HBS’ previous capital campaign goal by 5800 million.

The highly successful campaign, moreover, is at a school that already has the largest endowment of any business school in the world, roughly $3.3 billion. The endowment of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business is next at $1.4 billion, while Wharton is third with $1.3 billion. Only those three schools have endowments in excess of $1 billion (see America’s Wealthiest Business Schools). The largest endowment for any international business school is only $204.8 million at INSEAD (see The Wealthiest International Business Schools).

The school officially launched the campaign in April of 2014, with alum John Hess, who graduated with his MBA in 1977 and is CEO of the Hess Corporation, as campaign chair. HBS raised more than $600 million in gifts and pledges as part of the campaign’s “quiet phase,” which began in 2012. Since then, the school has raised more than $400 million from more than 24,000 donors, mostly alumni. HBS boasts 80,000 alumni around the world.


“As we look to the next two years, we have identified an additional goal of $300 million we seek to raise, reflecting the importance of sustaining the initiatives we have launched, providing future flexibility, and strengthening the core,” wrote Dean Nitin Nohria in an annual report to alumni obtained by Poets&Quants.

This is the fourth campaign since the school’s founding in 1908. The last concluded in 2005 with a goal of $500 million and ended up with $598 million being raised. HBS has said that funds collected from the current campaign will support such priorities as student financial aid, faculty research, globalization, and curricular innovation, as well as enhancements to the school’s residential campus.

HBS’ fundraising is part of an overall university effort to raise $6.5 billion, a goal achieved last year. The business school’s portion of that goal at 15% is only behind Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences which had a campaign goal of $2.5 billion.


In his 16-page report to alumni released late last month, Nohria also revealed that the school is in the midst of a major review of its core curriculum to evaluate what is being taught and how it is being taught. “As one of the few business schools that still insists on a required curriculum in both our MBA and comprehensive Executive Education programs, we need to ensure it is as relevant as it needs to be at a time when areas like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data analytics are becoming increasingly important,” wrote Nohria.

The dean generally gave an upbeat assessment of the state of the school and the five priorities he set for HBS shortly after assuming the deanship in July of 2010. He noted that the school had undertaken what he called a “comprehensive process of self-examination and assessment” to measure its progress against its goals for innovation, intellectual ambition, internationalization, inclusion and integration.

Among other things, the review uncovered student concern that the school’s generous financial aid packages fail to account for the increasing expense of extracurricular activities which are viewed as crucial to create enduring bonds among students well after they leave the campus. Nohria termed this a “key finding” of the assessment, noting that it has implications for the income inequality at the school. Nonetheless, he said that last year the school provided aid to roughly half of all MBA students, with an average annual fellowship of more than $35,000. “As one indicator of our success, 71 students in the MBA Class of 2018 (numbering 934) are the first in their families to attend college,” he wrote. “We should all be proud of this fact.”


The review included conversations with students, alumni, and faculty as well as deans and presidents from other schools and faculty colleagues from Harvard University. Nohria says the assessment focused on a series of questions:

“Where do we feel confident we are on the right path?”

“What efforts are having less than their intended impact?”

“What trends are we seeing in business, and are we responding appropriately to them?” “What should we be doing less, or more, of?”

“Are there important activities we have neglected or new initiatives we must consider?”

“What is distinctive about HBS, and how do we preserve it?”


“Taken together,” Nohria wrote, “the feedback suggested that we must strengthen what is at our core—our curriculum, our student culture, and our faculty’s distinctiveness—even as we sustain our focus on innovation. This call to strengthen our core was an important reminder at a time when much in the world is changing.

“Management education remains an industry in flux, with business schools still experiencing a decline in enrollments in two-year programs while one-year and executive MBA programs, and now online programs, proliferate. Business executives are asking whether management research being done in business schools is sufficiently focused on real-world problems and are turning instead to purveyors of management knowledge in- cluding consulting firms, conferences like TED and the World Economic Forum, and online aggregators like Coursera and Skillsoft. Elections in a number of countries over the past year reflect a nascent but rising anti-globalization sentiment. Instability, whether as the result of Brexit, uncertainty about trade agreements, or geopolitical tensions, has made world markets more volatile.”

Nohria told alumni that the school’s MBA program, a pioneer in the case method approach to teaching business, now has put significant experiential learning into the program, with more than 20% of the more than 80 courses in the elective curriculum requiring experiential work. “We have made significant process in redefining how we advance the knowing, doing, and being of educating leaders the MBA program,” he wrote.