Dean Rich Lyons was awarded the Berkeley Citation, among the highest honors the campus bestows on its community, in a surprise announcement at the Alumni Reunion Conference on Saturday.
Chancellor Carol Christ, who had just opened the conference with a joint keynote with Lyons about culture and leadership styles, paused the program to bestow the award. “It is my distinct privilege to present to Rich a Berkeley Citation for his distinguished achievements and notable service to the university,” said Christ, who was herself honored with the Citation in 2002.
“A set of core values and a sense of purpose”
The dean was visibly moved by the honor, as 600+ alumni gave a standing ovation.
Christ read from the Citation: “Rich Lyons believed business schools had both the responsibility and opportunity to instill a set of core values and a sense of purpose. The first step to realizing their mission was to create a new kind of business school culture.”
Haas colleagues nominated the dean with letters that paid homage to his authentic style as “a servant, leader, and a role model.” The letters cited his caring support for his direct team, active engagement with students, and his rock-star musical talents.
When Lyons became dean, it marked the beginning of one of the most transformative periods in Haas’ 120-year history—including an 18-month soul-searching exercise to determine the true values of the school. The exercise culminated in the codification of four Defining Leadership Principles, which rolled out in February 2010: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself.
Over the years, students and alumni have rallied around the principles as guiding leadership values.
About 1,400 alumni flocked to Haas last weekend for the largest-ever annual conference and reunion for MBA classes ending in the numbers 3 and 9, as well as the Class of 2017. The weekend featured career education “booster shots” from faculty on topics including fintech, design thinking, and equity and inclusion, as well as “HaasX” talks by alumni and plenty of social events.
Lyons also didn’t disappoint in the rock-star department, treating the audience to an acoustic guitar and vocal version of a favorite song: Green Day’s “Time of Your Life.”