The Haas School of Business owes its existence to visionaries, teachers, and gold rush pioneers who gave birth to a burgeoning field of study in the U.S. and established the nation’s second oldest business school, and the first at a public university.
This bold idea to create the College of Commerce, as it was called then, was first proposed by Berkeley graduate and entrepreneur Arthur Rodgers in 1883. Fifteen years later, Cora Jane Flood turned Rodgers’ vision into reality by donating a substantial gift to found the College of Commerce now known as Haas School of Business.
To this day, Haas graduates blaze new trails as they embody the school’s four Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. Its faculty is known for Nobel-Prize winning research and economic and management insights that benefit governments and firms worldwide.The school’s degree programs consistently rank among the top business programs in the world.
Haas School of Business: A Brief Centennial History
Read about the first 100 years of the Haas School of Business in A Brief Centennial History: 1898-1998.
Business at Berkeley
For a more detailed, scholarly account of the school’s coming of age, read Sandra Epstein’s Business at Berkeley: A History of the Haas School of Business (PDF), also available on Amazon.
View PDF of Business at Berkeley (Pt. 1)
View PDF of Business at Berkeley (Pt. 2)
The Haas Family Connection
The business school at UC Berkeley has a long and close association with the Haas family, who are relatives of Levi Strauss, the co-originator of the blue jean and founder of San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. For over a century, this great California family has earned a stellar reputation through its leadership in socially responsible business, philanthropy, and community service. The family’s commitment to the university began with Levi Strauss himself, who endowed 28 Berkeley scholarships in 1897.
Walter A. Haas, Sr., for whom the school is named, graduated from Berkeley’s College of Commerce in 1910. His long association with Levi Strauss & Co. began in 1914 when he married Elise Stern, the founder’s grandniece and daughter of the firm’s president, Sigmund Stern. After military service in World War I, he began his career at Levi Strauss in 1919, serving as president from 1928 until 1955, and as chairman until 1970. He led the business school’s first advisory council under Dean E. T. Grether. Until his death in 1979, he was a benefactor to the school, as well as a counselor and friend of the deans who succeeded Grether.
The cornerstone contribution for the campaign to raise the money for the school’s current building came from the children of Walter A. Haas, Sr. The gift from Walter Haas, Jr., BA 37, Peter Haas, BA 40, and Rhoda Haas Goldman, BA 46—then the largest in the history of the Berkeley campus—prompted the university to rename the business school in honor of their father. Speaking on behalf of the family, Rhoda Haas Goldman said, “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.”
Past Deans of the Haas School
During Tom Campbell’s tenure as the thirteenth dean, the Haas School expanded substantially and made significant strides toward achieving financial self-sufficiency. The undergraduate program increased its student enrollment by 25 percent, the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program added a second weekend cohort, and the Center for Executive Development dramatically expanded its programs for business executives. Moreover, the school expanded its faculty and has made faculty salaries competitive to attract and retain the best scholars and teachers. The school also has increased and improved its wide arrange of services for students, alumni, and corporate recruiters.
Tom Campbell returned for three more years as dean, following a one-year sabbatical to serve as director of finance under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. While under Campbell’s leadership, the school improved its showing in the major business school rankings so that its programs are regularly rated among the top ten. Fundraising reached record levels, helping the school make progress toward its goal of financial self-sufficiency. Contributions to the Haas School annual fund grew 75 percent during his administration. Haas also received the largest single gift in the school’s 108-year history—$25 million from an anonymous donor in August 2005.
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