It’s been a quarter of a century since Emory University named its business school for Coca Cola Co. CEO Roberto C. Goizueta. In a world where B-school naming rights can be sold for hundreds of millions of dollars, Goizueta got his name on Emory’s business school on the strength of his reputation alone.
But today (Dec. 4), The Goizueta Foundation announced a $30 million gift to the business school that bears the late CEO’s name. While it is the largest gift in the school’s history, it brings the foundation’s total support of the Goizueta Business School to nearly $100 million.
When Emory decided to name its business school after Goizueta in 1994, the Cuban-born executive was in his 14th year as the head of the Coca Cola Co., a post he held until his death in October of 1997. At the time, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, named after the long-time president of Coca Cola who made its famous drink a global brand, gave Emory a $10 million gift.
THE LARGEST PLEDGE EVER TO EMORY’S BUSINESS SCHOOL: ROUGHLY $20 MILLION WILL GO INTO ENDOWMENT
Over the past 25 years, however, the Goizueta Foundation would be incredibly generous to the school, quietly giving millions to support it until today’s $30 million pledge. “For our school, it’s a transformational gift,” says Erika James, who is in her second five-year term as dean of Goizueta Business School. “It allows us to both contribute meaningfully to an endowment and to have some expenditures to make some immediate enhancements to the school.”
Roughly $20 million of the gift will go directly into the school’s endowment of $140 million, the smallest of any business school with a Top 25 full-time MBA program. “So for us, a $30 million gift is significant,” adds James. “We are a school that punches above our weight. We are well regarded and have learned to operate with our resources very wisely. The gift give us some cushion to allow us to innovate and experiment in ways we haven’t done so in the past.”
Among other things, the gift will result in the immediate creation of three initiatives with Goizueta’s name attached to each: a new state-of-the-art virtual classroom, a Goizueta Innovation Center, and the Roberto C. Goizueta Institute for Business and Society.
‘ WE ARE. A SCHOOL COMMITTED TO THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE’
“We are a school that is very much committed to the student experience,” explains James. “Part of that experience is what happens in the classroom and the gift will in part ramp up ways to engage our students who are here and more broadly around the world. Our more senior students are looking for ways to engage with us with more flexibility. We want to leverage this virtual classroom to tear down the walls so that our students have the opportunity to connect from around the world and give us more flexibility on when they engage with the faculty and with each other.”
While Goizueta does not yet have any online degree programs in its portfolio, the school has a hybrid Executive MBA program that already leverages online learning. The gift will allow the school to expand its executive education offerings online.
James is not yet committing to an online MBA. “That is a discussion that we will continue to have with our faculty,” she says. “At this point, we are really focused through this gift on leveraging the executive audience, both degree and non-degree.
We have been very committed to a residential delivery model across all of our programs. Although we do some online, it would not be in our school’s best interests to create online programs when so many other schools are doing it. We want to find opportunities to leapfrog by finding new technologies.”
GIFT WILL FUND A NEW GOIZUETA INSTITUTE FOR BUSINESS & SOCIETY
The school said the gift would help it use of holograms to facilitate “pop-up” campuses at remote locations and virtual reality simulations for experiential learning. But some of the money will be used to invest more deeply in programming focused on the impact of business on communities, and social responsibility.
“The new Institute for Business and Society is an outgrowth of our now ten-year-old social enterprise work,” says James. “That is largely around creating opportunities for new entities and small businesses to generate economic mobility and development.” the new institute will be lead by Wesley Longhofer, a newly promoted associate professor of organization and management at Goizueta who is currently academic director of social enterprise. Longhofer succeeded Peter Roberts, who founded the social enterprise initiative at Goizueta ten years ago. “Wes is taking over and building it into something much broader and even more impactful,” says James,.
In her sixth year as Goizueta dean, James has now raised more than $70 million for the school. Asked how this latest gift came about, she acknowledged that “it was very important for me to have a personal and professional relationship with the foundation because our legacy is so deeply rooted in the values of Mr. Goizueta. Over the years, the foundation got more and more comfortable with me as a leader and the work of our faculty. They reached a point where they felt inspired by the vision of the school which is tied to being a school fundamentally rooted in promoting business and capitalism yet doing so in a manner that is very respectful and mindful of the communities in which they are engaged.”
Even before James was named dean in 2014, she had met with the foundation during the search process and then met again with the foundation’s leaders within her first month as dean. “We’ve become quite close,” says James. “The leaders of the foundation are the three children of Mr. Goizueta, two of whom are based here in Atlanta.”
‘THIS GIFT ENCOURAGES GOIZUETA TO DO EVEN MORE TO ADVANCE MY FATHER’S VISION’
In the official announcement of the gift, Goizueta’s daughter, Olga Goizueta Rawls, is quoted. She has a law degree from Emory and serves as board chair and CEO of The Goizueta Foundation. “At The Goizueta Foundation,” she says in a statement, “we believe that challenging organizations to think about education in innovative, strategic ways is part of the formula for creating life-changing opportunities for individuals and long-term benefits for the communities in which they live and serve. The Goizueta Business School has long been at the forefront of creating those opportunities and benefits, and ensuring its graduates carry on that work. This gift encourages Goizueta to do even more to advance my father’s vision for the school.”
“What I like is being able to tell a compelling story about what we do in our business school and getting people energized by that,” adds James. “It’s very easy for me to connect people with their memories and how the school has evolved in influential ways.”
The school called the gift a “capstone” on an important year in the Goizueta Business School’s history. In 2019, the Goizueta Business School celebrated the 25th anniversary of its naming after Roberto Goizueta and the centennial of its founding in 1919. “It’s been a year of celebration,” says James. “We did birthday parties around the world for alumni and a big celebration gala on Oct. 24th.”
In Poets&Quants’ newest 2019-2020 ranking of the best full-time MBA programs in the U.S., Goizueta held strong in the Top 25, ranking 22nd. “it’s a testament to the commitment the faculty and staff have to the student experience and the caliber of work our faculty produces,” says James. “They are relentless in wanting to maintain our reputation.”
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