Babson College has been telegraphing for some time that it intended something special to mark its 100th anniversary this year. On Friday (May 17) the school announced its plan to launch the most ambitious fundraising campaign in its history, with a goal of raising $300 million and, over the next four years, tripling the percentage of alumni who make yearly gifts college.
Anyone who knows anything about Babson can probably guess where most of that money will go: toward bolstering the school’s elite entrepreneurship programs. Already, the college announced, Babson has raised $188 million — nearly two-thirds of the total goal — during the campaign’s “quiet phase” between 2013 and 2018, when total pledges grew from $10.4 million to last year’s record-setting $67.4 million.
“As Babson celebrates our historic centennial year, we are committed to investing in the next generation of people and programs that will create economic and social value everywhere,” President Kerry Healey said in Babson’s announcement. “Through the philanthropic generosity of Babson’s alumni and friends, the college will extend its impact and leadership, and remain at the forefront of entrepreneurship education.”
Among the school’s big recent projects made possible by raised funds: the opening of a new interactive studio space, known as the Weissman Foundry, last fall, to serve as collaborative project space shared by students from Babson, Olin College of Engineering, and Wellesley College; an indoor garden and atrium, known as the Babson Commons, that was dedicated May 16, which provides an informal gathering space for students; and a new park in the heart of campus, which includes the restored iconic Babson World Globe and which will be named in honor of President Healey.
A TRANSFORMATIVE CAMPAIGN
In March, U.S. News named Babson’s Olin Graduate School of Business the top B-school for entrepreneurship for the 26th straight year. (In its overall ranking, U.S. News placed Babson 63rd, up 20 places from the previous year. Poets&Quants ranks Babson 55th in the U.S.) Last fall the college, based in Wellesley, Massachusetts, opened a new campus in Miami, Florida; Dean Keith Rollag told P&Q that in 2019 the school would continue to “reimagine” its MBA, exploring ways to “make it more entrepreneurial, more relevant, more adaptable for the future. As the market for graduate education is evolving, we’ll make sure that our MBA is evolving with it.” That was to include the school’s continuing efforts to strengthen its focus on family entrepreneurship, including hiring more faculty and expanding into the Babson Institute For Family Entrepreneurship — both goals of the new fundraising campaign.
The campaign “seeks to increase the accessibility and affordability of Babson to students from diverse backgrounds and from around the world,” according to the school’s announcement. Babson recently began meeting all of its first-year students’ demonstrated financial aid need for the first time in history, and the school also has established need-based, full-tuition scholarships for its new Global Scholars Program. To date, donors have given $20.9 million that has supported 47 global scholars from 30 countries.
More than half of the fundraising campaign’s goal will be dedicated to student scholarships, internships, study-abroad opportunities, athletics, and extracurricular programs, the school announced. The other main goal of the campaign: to attract and keep the top entrepreneurship faculty in the world. Babson will use raised funds to endow senior faculty positions such as the Bertarelli Foundation Chair for Family Entrepreneurship; establish new faculty term chairs in new areas of entrepreneurship such as design thinking, healthcare management, and financial technology; and expand its centers of academic excellence, including the recently launched Institute for Family Entrepreneurship.
IT’S ‘IN THE DNA’
Babson, which has a total full-time MBA enrollment of 344 and 573 students across all programs, enjoys certain advantages in the entrepreneurship program sweepstakes, by virtue of having been first in the door. In the 1970s it became one of the first schools in the country to focus on entrepreneurship, “when it was something that few people did,” Dean Rollag told P&Q in a 2018 interview. Babson launched its eponymous research conference in 1981, and the Symposium for Entrepreneurship Education in 1984 — “back when it wasn’t even really a discipline.” About 5,000 educators have been through the latter program, helping to further Babson’s mission to promote entrepreneurship education globally.
Entrepreneurship, Rollag said, is part of the school’s DNA.
“Not only do we teach entrepreneurship, but it’s really Entrepreneurial Thought and Action, which is actually a trademarked term we have,” he said. “Basically, it’s learning quickly through acting that we’ve built into our entire curriculum, both undergraduate and graduate.”
GOAL: 40% ALUMNI DONATION LEVEL
From 2013 to 2018, the number of donors to Babson has increased by 74%, and alumni participation has increased from 15% to 30.5%. The campaign goal is to reach or surpass 40% participation.
Alumni participation is seen by many as a good barometer of how graduates view their school, as a vote of confidence in the school’s future impact, and as a general indicator of academic excellence. Achieving 40 percent alumni participation would place Babson in the top 1 percent of all colleges and universities in the United States.
“Babson pioneered entrepreneurship as an academic discipline, based on the revolutionary belief that entrepreneurs can be made, not just born,” says Marla M. Capozzi, chair of Babson’s Board of Trustees and a 1996 graduate. “This campaign will allow us to continue to innovate toward a future that extends entrepreneurship and amplify our impact on the world. We thank our global community for their support and generosity.”
Adds Advancement Committee Chair Craig R. Benson: “We are enormously grateful to the many alumni and friends who have already answered Babson’s invitation to support this campaign. Babson’s next century will be marked by the investments made by so many generous gifts which will be critical to meeting our entrepreneurial vision.”