The power of our undergraduate program and its alumni
Dean Lyons with donors Dr. Connie Chen and Kevin Chou, BS 02, at the dedication of Connie & Kevin Chou Hall.
In this issue, we celebrate the naming of our new building, Connie & Kevin Chou Hall, in recognition of the extraordinary gift made by Kevin Chou, BS 02, and his wife, Dr. Connie Chen, to expand our campus. Their gift of up to $25 million, the largest in UC Berkeley history by an alum under age 40, demonstrates the changing nature of philanthropy. I’m so proud to see younger alumni giving back as soon as they are able.
As our feature stories illustrate, undergraduate alumni are crucial to the continued success of Berkeley-Haas. Of the nine gifts of $5 million or more that the Haas School has received in its history—including four other core gifts to our new building from Haas alums Ned Spieker, BS 66; Bob O’Donnell, BS 65, MBA 66; Barclay Simpson, BS 43; and Cal alum Doug Goldman, BA 74—eight of those gifts were principally connected to undergraduate alumni.
Indeed, the very history of Berkeley-Haas began with the undergraduate program. Too much opportunity faced California at the close of the 19th century not to have a business degree and thus the second oldest business school in the country was born. Founding documents pointed, as well, to the program being Asia-facing.
We’ve always been progressive. These days, that means finding new ways to expand our undergraduate offerings. One example: the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (M.E.T.) program, a partnership with our College of Engineering that allows undergrads to earn two bachelor’s degrees in four years.
We received thousands of applications in this first admissions cycle, and M.E.T. is a model we’re looking to extend in the future with other colleges on campus.
Recently, a three-member accreditation panel visited our school and raved
about the strength of our undergrad program, and I couldn’t agree more. Only a few of the top business schools have undergraduate business programs, and at #2 (U.S. News), only one private, Wharton, tracks above us. Let’s continue enhancing it together.
Berkeley-Haas transforms India’s poor villages through Open Innovation initiatives
The Smart Village accelerator offers training and loans to budding entrepreneurs, such as weaver Narasimha Murthy (right), who can now sell his saris online. Smart Village Fellow Shreya Evani (left) trains him.
Sometimes, it really does take a village.
For the past half year, the government of Andhra Pradesh, India, has commissioned Berkeley-Haas to develop a scalable prototype for a smart village. The goal: to provide poor villages in India with technology and offer residents commercial and educational opportunities to help them compete in the global digital economy to overcome poverty. The project is led by Solomon Darwin, executive director of the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation at Haas.
The prototype concept was put into practice in the agricultural village of Mori, located along India’s southeastern coast. The village’s approximately 7,000 residents received connectivity and high-speed infrastructure provided by government authorities and the nearly two dozen major Silicon Valley Firms that participated in the Scalable Smart Village Initiative with the Garwood Center.
Now fully connected, Mori has also moved to cashless transactions and is the first Indian village to ever have access to healthcare in the cloud. Mori craftsmen can now take pictures on their smartphones and display their products online, allowing customers to directly buy the merchandise. This bypasses the antiquated system where brokers took most of the profits.
Solomon Darwin, Smart Village Initiative architect
“So instead of selling a handmade sari for $1, they are now able to sell it for $100,” says Darwin.
Similarly, Mori’s shrimp farmers are using the Internet to handle everything from seed supply to the sale of stock, helping them increase profits. Sensors also let the farmers measure pH and temperature levels so they can treat the water in a timely fashion and protect the shrimp.
Darwin says the success in Mori is a direct result of Open Innovation, based on the work of Haas’ Henry Chesbrough, faculty director of the Garwood Center. The Mori Smart Village Initiative business case was published by California Management Review and distributed by Harvard Business Review. The project was also featured at the United Nations in March.
Mori’s transformation has ignited a surge of interest from other villages. In Phase II, 456 were chosen by the Chief Minister to become Smart Villages. Darwin says the scalability of the idea leaves him excited for the future of his native country.
“This is going to empower people and change their lives,” says Darwin, who lived in Mori until age 16, when his family left for the U.S. “I didn’t have clothes until I was 10,” he says. “The school where I studied had a dirt floor and we had to write in the sand.” The Mori of his childhood no longer exists. “The village has been transformed,” he says.
Immersive program expands Berkeley-Haas’ global reach
A new study-abroad program will bring top students from around the globe to Berkeley-Haas each year to study business and entrepreneurship, connect with Bay Area companies, and experience life in the Bay Area.
The Berkeley-Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP), a non-degree program launching this fall in partnership with UC Berkeley Extension and universities worldwide, will provide a one- or two-semester immersive experience for both undergraduate- and graduate-level international students.
“We have this unique content that can develop innovative, entrepreneurial leaders across the world,” says Adam Berman, BS 85, executive director of emerging initiatives at Berkeley-Haas and head of the new program. “Why not make Haas available to top students everywhere?”
All BHGAP students take three business courses held privately for them at Haas, as well as an elective from another department on campus with other matriculating students. The curriculum, portions of which are being piloted to a hundred Berkeley international students this spring, includes some of the school’s most popular business classes: Problem Finding, Problem Solving; High Technology Marketing; and Entrepreneurship Workshop for Startups. BHGAP students are also offered visits to Silicon Valley companies, career coaching, cohort lunches, professional development workshops, and networking opportunities to connect with our undergraduate and MBA students.
The idea, says Berman, is to enhance Haas’ global reputation and generate net revenue for the school. Sixty to 120 students will start in the fall, with a target of 180 to 240 students per semester in coming years.
Learn more: haas.org/bh-gap.
I want to say THANK YOU to Berkeley-Haas on the occasion of my 40th reunion. I remain ever grateful for the fantastic opportunity to receive an outstanding education, which in those years was unavailable in Europe, especially for young ladies. My MBA proved to be invaluable and most effective in opening new doors and new business horizons.
Currently an independent non-executive board director and co-founder and CEO of a nonprofit association, I started my career at IBM Corp. and moved up through various international management positions at IBM USA and IBM Europe during some three decades. For sure I could never have done this without Haas’ excellent education.
Today, I would strongly recommend that young people seek first-class business education, endorse corporate responsibility, abide by human rights and values, respect and promote the De ning Principles, and at some point give back to Haas. Looking towards the future and wishing continued success to Haas!
Catherine A. Gambotto-Palermo, MBA 76
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Haas provides alumni a mix of digital and in-person access to the school’s thought leadership. Here, a look at last year's numbers.
Views on our Alumni Conference curated playlists
Unique visitors to video content on Haas Insights (insights.haasalumni.org)
Average number of participants in our series on developing leadership capabilities (taught by Cameron Anderson, Don Moore, and Alison Bloomfield Meyer, MBA 11)
Faculty featured at signature and regional events (topics included real estate, energy, negotiation, and the economy)
Average Net Promoter Score for live digital sessions with faculty and alumni thought leaders
Alumni currently enrolled in the MBA Audit program