Think about philanthropy at Berkeley Haas, and you may think of new buildings, scholarships for students, and support for faculty research—and not draw connections to your own endeavors at one of the nation’s leading business schools.

But ask a few colleagues to reflect on how alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends who give to the Haas School have made our work more rewarding, and they have a lot to say. In this first of a three-part series, on how philanthropy enriches work at Haas, we talk with Om Chitale, Director of MBA Diversity Admissions.

Om Chitale

How long have you been at Haas?

Five months in this role. Prior to that I was an MBA student here, graduating in 2018.

Tell us about your role.

I am the director of diversity admissions for MBA programs, focused on the full-time program, but partnering with the working professionals programs as well. In the past few years, Haas experienced a number of pain points around the declining diversity of attendees in the full-time program. Those drops pointed to systemic issues and underscored ways in which we were not living up to our own DLPs; this role was created as part of the administrative response, to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion at Haas.

DEI is an integral part of having excellent classes and preparing students to lead. I work to strengthen existing partnerships and build new ones with organizations that have a mission around access and equity in business schools and to establish systems that move us forward in diversity for the long term.

Favorite moment from this past year?

We have a huge event each fall, our Diversity Symposium, which is intersectional. This past fall we had Eve Ekman from the Greater Good Science Center speaking on The Compassionate Leader—and had such great feedback from the audience. The fact that we had that speaker shows that Berkeley Haas is redefining leadership in a way that is about more than numbers.

How has philanthropy at Haas touched your work?

The MBA market is changing, with fewer people applying. To be competitive in general and in attracting a more diverse community of applicants takes strong programs, with interdisciplinary options and international access, and the ability to open new pipelines. It also takes scholarship money, in a market where most of our competitors have deeper pockets and fewer restrictions.

Our ability to hang with the competition means using our operating budget smartly—and having funding. With scholarship money available, I can get top candidates to the table, and then I can talk about the nuances of Berkeley Haas and the kind of creativity you can unlock with this community and these values. Otherwise, what I hear from candidates is, “You sound great, but I can’t afford it without support.”

Is there anything you would you like to say to Berkeley Haas donors?

Thank you! And we need you. You enable us to lead with our Defining Leadership Principles, to offer great support to students in an increasingly competitive market, and to fund priorities without making tuition go up and up and up. Without you, we just wouldn’t be competitive and able to help all of our students transform into the leaders they can be.

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