Walter A. Haas — Alumnus, Leader, and Friend
Walter A. Haas graduated from Cal's College of Commerce in 1910. Over a long life, his loyalty to and support of the University were an inspiration to fellow alumni. His business career, and the company he led for 27 years, are a model for students of business everywhere. In recognition of the thoughtful generosity of his children, Rhoda Haas Goldman, Peter E. Haas, and Walter A. Haas Jr., and their families, Cal's business school bears his name.
A better fit between alumnus and school would be hard to imagine. Walter A. Haas led the school's first advisory council under Dean E. T. Grether, and until his death in 1979, he was a counselor and friend of each of the deans who succeeded Grether. In recognition of his close association with Dean Grether, Walter A. Haas helped establish the school's E. T. Grether Professorship in Marketing and Public Policy.
Walter A. Haas began his career with Levi Strauss & Company in 1919 upon completion of his military service in World War I. He became president in 1928 and served in that position until 1955. He served as chairman until 1970 and remained active in company affairs until his death in 1979. Working with his partner and fellow College of Commerce alumnus, Daniel E. Koshland, Sr., he built a company respected for its integrity and business success--both in its products and its dealings with its employees and the community. Walter A. Haas believed, and often said, that Levi Strauss "owes responsibility to the communities in which we do business."
As Dean Grether once observed, "Levi Strauss became a model for other companies because they put that philosophy into action first. They were practicing affirmative action before the term was invented and they were doing it in the South before the civil rights movement."
Walter A. Haas was married to Elise Stern for 65 years. On their 60th anniversary, he said that of all their accomplishments--and there were many--their children were the most significant. His family continues to build the business and to devote its talents and energies to the community and the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1989, the family of Walter A. Haas made the cornerstone gift to the campaign for the business school building. The UC Regents, with enthusiastic faculty support, voted that the school be named for Walter A. Haas.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Rhoda Haas Goldman said, "All of us want Cal to continue to be one of the world's premier institutions of higher education. We hope our gift will amplify the excellence of the business school. All of us have been devoted to Berkeley, no one more so than our father. He would be most pleased to know that his family is continuing his legacy of support to the University he so dearly loved."