Community celebrates new MBA lounge, the Shneyder & Kirk MBA Commons

The new student lounge at Haas.
Dean Ann Harrison (middle) celebrates the grand opening of the Shneyder & Kirk MBA Commons with Mikhail Shneyder (second from left), EWMBA 08, and husband, Jim Kirk (left), who made a $1 million donation to name the lounge. Austen Diliberto and Bingbin Zhou of Gelfand Partners Architects are on the right. (Photo: Ute Frey)

The Berkeley Haas community gathered yesterday to celebrate the grand opening of the Shneyder & Kirk MBA Commons, a larger, brighter space for MBA students to study and collaborate.

The MBA Commons is named for Mikhail Shneyder, EWMBA 08, and his husband, Jim Kirk, in recognition of their generous $1 million gift to the school. 

The 2,300 square feet of space, which previously housed the FIFO Café, has been in the works since 2019. The opening of Chou Hall and Café Think provided an opportunity to reconsider the use of the space, Dean Ann Harrison said at the grand opening.

The new MBA lounge at Haas
The new MBA lounge has private phone booths and portable charging stations. (Photo: Emily Ufheil-Somers)

Haas student leaders, who worked on focus groups to develop the plans, asked for a lounge that was bigger, updated, and more inviting. 

“We heard you,” Harrison said. The new space offers multiple seating areas, varied furniture options, a kitchenette, private phone booths, contemporary fixtures, portable charging stations, and even a digital trophy wall where MBA student achievements and awards will be showcased.

Previously, MBA students met outside of class in a room off the upper Bank of America Forum, which seats about 20 people. The Shneyder & Kirk MBA Commons is three times the size of that space.

“Thrilled to give back”

Harrison said Shneyder, who immigrated to the United States from Belarus at 19 after earning a nursing degree, speaking no English, is “the archetype of our Defining Leadership Principles.” 

Mikhail Shneyder, EWMBA 08
Donor Mikhail Shneyder, EWMBA 08, addresses the Haas community. (Photo: Ute Frey)

After pursuing business classes as an undergraduate and, later, an MBA at Haas, he became CEO and president of Nightingale College, a nursing school headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Shneyder said Nightingale’s success was born “in Haas classes and in our group work.”

“We generated all these ideas that we are implementing day and day out,” he said. “My hope is that that you will generate so many new ideas that will continue to question the status quo and build the future that is equitable and accessible and good for everybody.”

Harrison lauded Shneyder’s goal to change the world “by improving health and revolutionizing access to quality education for health care professionals from varied socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds”—and for giving back to Haas.

“Mikhail, Jim, we are beyond thrilled to be the beneficiary of your success and generosity,” Harrison said. “We thank you for holding a special place in your heart for this Haas community.”

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