Berkeley Haas dean to step down, remain on faculty 

Ann Harrison will step down as the dean of the Haas School of Business on July 31, 2024, remaining a half-time faculty member. The decision will allow her to spend more time with her New York-based family and focus on her research, she said. 

“It has been an incredible honor and joy for me to serve as dean of Haas,” Harrison said in a note to the Haas community sent this morning. “I am proud of what we have accomplished together.”

Harrison has served as dean of Berkeley Haas since January 2019, the second woman to lead the school. Her deep ties to UC Berkeley—where she earned her bachelor’s in economics and history and served as a professor in the College of Agricultural and Resource Economics for 10 years—have allowed her to make far-reaching changes in a short time, said Ben Hermalin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost for UC Berkeley, who announced the news today.

“We thank Dean Harrison for her incredible leadership and numerous accomplishments during her term as the dean,” Hermalin said. “For anyone who has had the pleasure of working with her, Ann is wonderful to partner with. She is full of innovative ideas that go beyond Haas; hence, not only has she made Haas better, but she’s also made the campus better. Her leadership will be sorely missed.”

A sustainability mindset

Harrison said becoming a half-time ladder faculty member will allow her to spend meaningful time with her husband and two daughters, who live in New York, while staying connected to Haas and continuing her research. 

“I will be able to remain at the school I have been truly passionate about since I first set foot here as a freshman at Berkeley in 1977,” said Harrison, a renowned economist who is one of the most highly cited scholars on foreign investment and multinational firms. “I am especially excited to have more time to focus on my research into the gender pay gap and what makes industrial policy work.”

Harrison’s top priority at Haas was to embed a sustainability mindset in all of the school’s programs and operations. This resulted in the creation of a sustainability certificate and a dual master’s degree program in business and climate solutions with the Rausser College of Natural Resources, as well as a summer minor in sustainable business and policy. 

Courtney Chandler, Senior Vice Dean of Haas, said Harrison’s accomplishments have had school-wide impact—from growing the faculty, to fundraising, to growing degree programs, to infusing innovation, sustainability, and inclusion into business education. 

“She believes in Haas’ potential and strives to further strengthen the school’s reputation by setting an ambitious vision for Berkeley Haas,” Chandler said.

During her tenure, Harrison appointed the school’s first-ever chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer and the first chief sustainability officer. She orchestrated a major diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging (DEIJB) effort that broadened the profile of the school’s faculty, board, and student body, and created learning opportunities and anti-bias training for the entire Haas community. 

“Grateful for her leadership”

Professor Jennifer Chatman, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, said Harrison’s leadership over the past five years created cultural changes at Haas that have made the school “more diverse, more harmonious, and more collaborative than ever.” “Dean Harrison’s leadership style has set us up for an immensely bright future, and I am deeply grateful for her leadership,” she said.

people standing in the courtyard during the 125th event
(L-R) Ben Hermalin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost for UC Berkeley; UC Berkeley Chancellor-Elect Rich Lyons; Prof. Jennifer Chatman,  Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Dean Ann Harrison; Prof. Don Moore and Erika Walker, Senior Assistant Dean for Instruction, attending the Berkeley Haas 125h Anniversary Celebration in the Haas courtyard. Photo: Jim Block

Harrison’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship resulted in a new faculty group and an entrepreneurship hub—slated to open this fall.  Harrison envisions the hub as a central clearing house for students who wish to learn about all entrepreneurship activities across the Berkeley campus. The hub now has a faculty director, as well as an executive director.

In addition, Harrison expanded the school’s degree offerings with the Flex hybrid MBA cohort and worked closely with the Berkeley School of Public Health, the School of Engineering, Biological Sciences, and the School of Law to bolster their joint programs. 

Harrison, a chaired professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School before joining Haas, hired 40 new tenure-track faculty during her five-year tenure, 19 of whom are women. She also nearly doubled the number of faculty positions that are funded by Haas or by philanthropic funds. 

Stepped up fundraising

Under Harrison’s leadership, Haas has also significantly stepped up fundraising and raised $236 million since 2019. This includes the largest single gift in the school’s history—$30 million from alumnus Ned Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, BS 66 to turn the upper-division undergraduate business program into a four-year program.

When naming her “Dean of the Year” in 2023, the publication Poets & Quants called Harrison’s tenure an “unimaginable and nearly breathtaking record of achievement.”

Harrison said she looks forward to the opportunity to teach in the new four-year Spieker Undergraduate Program

“What really motivates me both as a leader and soon-to-be faculty member are the transformational opportunities we provide for our students, staff, faculty, and alumni,” she said. “We provide opportunity for everyone, at a scale that is unequaled among the private schools. What a powerful mission.”

Hermalin will announce details about the appointment of an interim dean shortly. Hermalin said the goal is to begin the search for a permanent dean in early fall 2024, conduct interviews in late fall and/or early spring, and announce the new dean in spring 2025, aiming for a July 1, 2025 start date. The interim dean will likely serve through June 30, 2025, while a national search is underway.

Berkeley Haas 2024 undergraduate class urged to invest in relationships, ‘stay connected to each other’

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(L-R) Graduates Yassen Tarig Abdelfatah and Jacob Williams. Photo: Katrina Koski

Seek mentors of all ages, engage with discomfort, and invest in relationships were parting words delivered during the Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program spring 2024 commencement ceremony.

“Become a master relationship builder,” said Commencement Speaker Jasvinder (Jas) Khaira, BS 04, a senior managing director and founding partner of the Tactical Opportunities Group at Blackstone. “Seek out mentors early in your career, and contribute to the relationships by adding value to them. Be a mentor to others, no matter your age or title. Those relationships will give you context when you hit the inevitable lows in life, and they will remind you of purpose when you are hitting your highs.”

Courtney Chandler, senior assistant dean and chief strategy & operating officer at Haas, welcomed about 500 graduating students in the class of 2024, along with family and friends who gathered at the Greek Theatre.

(Watch commencement video below)

Erika Walker, senior assistant dean for instruction, congratulated students for completing their studies at the No. 2 undergraduate business school in the United States. Forty-three percent of the 2024 graduates are women, 47% earned a dual degree, and 22% are the first in their families to go to college, she noted. 

“We are so proud of you, as are your parents, mentors, and loved ones who supported you along the way,” she said, calling out all of the family members who flew from around the world to attend commencement. “Let’s give them a round of applause.” 

Walker added that no matter where life takes you, a Berkeley Haas degree will open doors.

“Stay connected to each other, help each other succeed,” Walker said. “You are now part of a global network of more than 43,000 and more than half a million Berkeley alumni.” 

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2024 graduates walking toward the stage to receive diplomas at the Greek. Photo: Kim Girard

Khaira shared advice, gleaned from his career and personal life, including thoughts on the toll that 9/11 took on his perception of safety as an Indian man “wearing a turban and a beard.” Calling his father after the Twin Towers fell, Khaira said he told him he wanted to run away. His father asked him where he would go.

“I told him, ‘I don’t know. Maybe India?’ And the next moment was a pivotal part of my life that I won’t forget. He responded, ‘There is nowhere to go. Even India, of course, has its own religious discrimination.’”

That’s when Khaira said he realized “this wasn’t going to be an easy fix. There was nowhere to run.”

“As you graduate from Haas and start your career people will disagree with you, you will feel disrespected, you will deal with conflict,” he said. “There is no gain in running away from it. There is no value in responding with rage or ignoring it. Coming to my own terms with discomfort has been one of the most important life skills I’ve had to wrestle with. How do I gain perspective by using empathy? Does this person really want to hurt me, or are they insecure? Can I successfully move forward knowing I control nothing but can still influence everything?”

three people at commencement, one wearing a cap
Left-right: Katrina Koski, director of inclusion & belonging at Haas, Saikat Chaudhuri, faculty director of the M.E.T. Program, and Emma Daftary, assistant dean of undergraduate programs. Photo: Katrina Koski

Emma Daftary, assistant dean of the Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Programs, presented awards to students and faculty, including:

  • Kevin Liao, Departmental Citation, awarded to the student with the most outstanding academic achievement in the field of business. A graduate of the Global Management Program (GMP), Liao is heading to J.P. Morgan.
  • Question the Status Quo, Chen Dai: Dai is an entrepreneur, engineer, and the first international student from China to graduate from the M.E.T. program at Berkeley Haas.
  • Confidence without Attitude, Shivum Berry: Berry built a yo-yo company at age 14 and went on to create a course at Berkeley on building an e-commerce business.
  • Students Always, Sakura Kappel: A transfer and reentry student raised by a single mother in the Philippines, Kappel “exemplifies a student who likes to question established norms and explore diverse perspectives, even if it may ruffle feathers.”
  • Beyond Yourself, Norma Garcia Galvan: A first-generation student, Galvan values community building, mentorship, and uplifting marginalized communities, which stems from her upbringing in an immigrant Mexican household.
  • Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching for the Undergraduate Program: Haas Lecturer Mohammed Nadeem, who teaches marketing.
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor: Kunal Cholera (his second win as a GSI).

Celebrating her 22nd birthday, undergraduate student speaker Julianna De Paula shared the anxiety she felt before leaving her family in Brazil to study at Berkeley. “As soon as I stepped foot on this campus, all of the anxiety went away. After meeting my roommates, classmates, and professors, I finally realized that I’d found a new home very far from my own,” she said.

De Paula, who will join L’Oreal as a marketing management trainee after commencement, said it’s the sense of community and belonging at Haas that she will miss most, including “the friendships forged over group projects, the mentorships of our professors, and the shared triumphs and challenges that have united us as a class.” 

Summer Hua, the Haas Business Student Association (HBSA) president for the 2023-24 school year, and a first-generation international student, thanked her professors and her HBSA team, the “unsung heroes advocating for student voices” and “friends who have turned into family.” 

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Graduates gathered in the courtyard after the commencement ceremony. Photo: Kim Girard

After students tossed caps, they headed to a post-commencement reception in the courtyard as the sun broke through the morning fog. Asked to describe her time at Haas in one word, graduate Rachel Sanchez said “friends.”

 

New program gives undergrads space to develop resilience

 

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Tarun Galagali, CEO of startup Mandala, (far right) with his class of undergraduate students in the new Foundations of Resilient Leadership Program.

Julianna De Paula, BS 24, approaches life a little differently since she finished the new undergraduate Foundations of Resilient Leadership program at Berkeley Haas.

First, she pauses to think before having difficult conversations. She also takes time out to breathe—truly pay attention to the inhale and exhale—throughout  the school day. She believes that both changes will help her as she gets ready to move to New York City to launch a career at L’Oreal this fall.

“There’s a lot going on with the war in Gaza and the protests and a lot of my friends are impacted by what’s going on in Palestine,” said De Paula, one of 30 students, largely Haas undergraduates, enrolled in the class. Being a more active listener helps guide her navigate the stress, she said. 

These skills will also make her a more resilient leader, which is the heart of the new six-week certificate program founded by Tarun Galagali, CEO of startup Mandala. The program, also used to train employees at corporations like Microsoft, covers topics that range from having difficult conversations to navigating imposter syndrome to listening mindfully to understanding the meaning of values-based leadership.

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Emma Daftary, assistant dean of the Haas Undergraduate Programs, with Tarun Galagali, CEO of startup Mandala.

Galagali worked with Emma Daftary, assistant dean of the undergraduate programs, Lauren Simon, associate director of Student Life & Leadership Development for the undergraduate program, and Katrina Koski, director of inclusion and belonging at Haas, to launch the class at Haas this past spring. (Mandala is an ancient Sanskrit word that means circle—referring to community and connection.) 

Developing “skills to navigate”

The program provides students an open space to discuss their struggles and challenges. In doing so, it normalizes feelings and experiences that can otherwise leave students feeling isolated and alone, Daftary said. 

It is our role as a business school to help shape and inform inclusive, resilient, effective leaders,” Daftary said.We launched the program to provide our students with the skills to navigate situations that are personally and professionally triggering.” One catalyst for the program, among others, she said, was the turmoil on campus following the Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7, and the resulting war in Palestine. “We were meeting with students and they were reporting that they were having a really difficult time processing their grief while balancing the demands of their classes,” Daftary said. “They were feeling alone and disconnected.”

It is our role as a business school to help shape and inform inclusive, resilient, effective leaders,” —Emma Daftary.

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Tarun Galagali, CEO of startup Mandala, asks students to share “glacier stories,” and open up to each other about their struggles.

In class, Galagali starts by sharing his own story, beginning with his childhood as the son of Indian immigrants growing up in Cupertino, Ca.  After earning a Harvard MBA, he worked as a product marketing and strategy lead at Google, a management consultant at EY Parthenon, as a director of strategy at online therapy platform Talkspace, and as as a senior political advisor to Congressman Ro Khanna. Under the surface of the names on his resume, he said, there are “glacier stories” of feeling isolated, inadequate, or not belonging at times.

“I share (my story) to show that there’s a story behind each of the resume logos and resilience embedded in them,” he said.  There are positives to these stories, too, he said, as he used what learned about leadership and teamwork at Google and from his experience lobbying for mental health of kids in California to build out the Mandala program. 

Balancing stress and anxiety

Coco Zhang, BA 26, who lives with and supports her single mother by working part-time jobs as a full-time student, said she often feels over-committed and burned out at Berkeley. What helped, she said, was learning that she was not alone. “Before I joined (Mandala) I thought I was one of the few who struggled a lot,” she said. “It helped to hear other students’ experiences and to know what they are doing to balance stress and anxiety. It motivates me to see what they have done to handle imposter syndrome and to learn some invaluable mental well-being concepts that have helped me to ground my true self to go beyond my boundaries and rise above the horizons.” 

Jacob Williams, BS 24, who was part of the founding group that worked with Mandala to launch the program, said the principles explored have provided him with tools he has already deployed in daily life. 

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Jacob Williams

“I think this semester has been revolutionary for me” he said. Through the program, he said he has learned to “jump across domains,” and make new connections, such as connecting the dots between his cancer research and his DEI efforts, which has made his work a lot more meaningful. “On the first day of Mandala, Tarun explored the concept of an underlying glacier,” he said. “Among the many interpretations shared, the concept of a subconscious root to the way we think, behave, feel, and act really resonated with me. Realizing the deeper motivations behind my intuition and the ways I’ve chosen to govern has allowed me to communicate in a way which ultimately generates greater value, meaning, and impact for the people I work with and the public I’m honored to serve.”

A successful outcome

Galagali said the program is particularly relevant at a time when people are “quiet quitting” at work due to burnout. People lack critical things at work, he said, including psychological safety and a sense of belonging and connection.

Galagali said he would like to expand the Berkeley program, based on the success they’ve had so far: 88% of students who finished the program reported an increase in resilience; 94% of students reported reductions in burnout; and 100% felt the program improved their confidence in entering the workplace. 

A lot of this is a personal deep desire to create community,” he said, noting that students who have completed this program have reported that they are better able to show up for hard conversations, that they’ve learned something new to make them better at their job, and that they have more self awareness and awareness of others.

De Paula said she hopes the program will continue. “It was surprising to see so many Haas students opening up to each other,” she said. “Tarun is also very inspirational as a mentor, so I have only good things to say about the program.”

Is it ethical? New undergrad class trains students to think critically about artificial intelligence

two sstudents in a Haas classroom listening intently
Berkeley Haas undergraduate students Hunter Esqueda (left) and Sohan Dhanesh (right) are enrolled in Genevieve Smith’s Responsible AI Innovation & Management class. Photo: Noah Berger

 

“Classified” is an occasional series spotlighting some of the more powerful lessons being taught in classrooms around Haas.

On a recent Monday afternoon, Sohan Dhanesh, BS 24, joined a team of students to consider whether startup Moneytree is using machine learning ethically to determine credit worthiness among its customers.

After reading the case, Dhanesh, one of 54 undergraduates enrolled in a new Berkeley Haas course called Responsible AI Innovation & Management, said he was concerned by Moneytree’s unlimited access to users’ phone data, and whether customers even know what data the company is tapping to inform its credit scoring algorithm. Accountability is also an issue, since Silicon Valley-based Moneytree’s customers live in India and Africa, he said. 

“Credit is a huge thing, and whether it’s given to a person or not has a huge impact on their life,” Dhanesh said. “If this credit card [algorithm] is biased against me, it will affect my quality of life.”

Dhanesh, who came into the class believing that he didn’t support guardrails for AI companies, says he’s surprised by how his opinions have changed about regulation. That he isn’t playing Devil’s advocate, he said, is due to the eye-opening data, cases, and readings provided by Lecturer Genevieve Smith.

A contentious debate

Smith, who is also the founding co-director of the Responsible & Equitable AI Initiative at the Berkeley AI Research Lab and former associate director of the Berkeley Haas Center for Equity, Gender, & Leadership, created the course with an aim to teach students both sides of the AI debate.

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Lecturer Genevieve Smith says the goal of her class is to train aspiring leaders to understand, think critically about, and implement strategies for responsible AI innovation and management. Photo: Noah Berger

Her goal is to train aspiring leaders to think critically about artificial intelligence and implement strategies for responsible AI innovation and management. “While AI can carry immense opportunities, it also poses immense risks to both society and business linked to pervasive issues of bias and discrimination, data privacy violations, and more,” Smith said. “Given the current state of the AI landscape and its expected global growth, profit potential, and impact, it is imperative that aspiring business leaders understand responsible AI innovation and management.”

“While AI can carry immense opportunities, it also poses immense risks to both society and business linked to pervasive issues of bias and discrimination, data privacy violations, and more,” – Genevieve Smith.

During the semester, Smith covers the business and economic potential of AI to boost productivity and efficiency. But she also explores the immense potential for harm, such as the risk of embedding inequality or infringing on human rights; amplifying misinformation and a lack of transparency, and impacting the future of work and climate. 

Smith said she expects all of her students will interact with AI as they launch careers, particularly in entrepreneurship and tech. To that end, the class prepares them to articulate what “responsible AI” means and understand and define ethical AI principles, design, and management approaches. 

Learning through mini-cases

Today, Smith kicked off class with a review of the day’s AI headlines, showing an interview with OpenAI’s CTO Mira Murati, who was asked where the company gets its training data for Sora, OpenAI’s new generative AI model that creates realistic video using text. Murati contended that the company used publicly available data to train Sora but didn’t provide any details in the interview. Smith asks the students what they thought about her answer, noting the “huge issue” with a lack of transparency on training data, as well as copyright and consent implications.

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Throughout the semester, students will develop a responsible AI strategy for a real or fictitious company. Photo: Noah Berger

After, Smith introduced the topic of “AI for good” before the students split into groups to act as responsible AI advisors to three startups, described in three mini cases for Moneytree, HealthNow, and MyWeather.  They worked to answer Smith’s questions: “What concerns do you have? What questions would you ask? And what recommendations might you provide?” The teams explored these questions across five core responsible AI principles, including privacy, fairness, and accountability. 

Julianna De Paula, BS 24, whose team was assigned to read about Moneytree, asked if the company had adequately addressed the potential for bias when approving customers for credit (about 60% of loans in East Africa go to men, and 70% of loans in India go to men, the case noted), and whether the app’s users are giving clear consent for their data when they download it. 

Other student teams considered HealthNow, a chatbot that provides health care guidance, but with better performance for men and English speakers; and MyWeather, an app developed for livestock herders by a telecommunications firm in Nairobi, Kenya, that uses weather data from a real-time weather information service provider.

The class found problems with both startups, pointing out the potential for a chatbot to misdiagnose conditions (“Can a doctor be called as a backup?” one student asked), and the possibility that MyWeather’s dependence on a partner vendor could lead to inaccurate climate data.

Preparing future leaders

Throughout the semester, students will go on to develop a responsible AI strategy for a real or fictitious company. They are also encouraged to work with ChatGPT and other generative AI language tools. (One assignment asked them to critique ChatGPT’s own response to a question of bias in generative AI.) Students also get a window into real-world AI use and experiences through guest speakers from Google, Mozilla, Partnership on AI, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and others. 

All of the students participate in at least one debate, taking sides on topics that include whether university students should be able to use ChatGPT or other generative AI language tools for school; if the OpenAI board of directors was right to fire Sam Altman; and if government regulation of AI technologies stifles innovation and should be limited.

Smith, who has done her share of research into gender and AI, also recommended many readings for the class, including “Data Feminism” by MIT Associate Professor Catherine D’Ignazio and Emory University Professor Lauren Klein; “Unmasking AI: My Mission to Protect What Is Human in a World of Machines” by AI researcher, artist, and advocate Joy Buolamwini; “Weapons of Math Destruction” by algorithmic auditor Cathy O’Neil; and “Your Face Belongs to Us” by New York Times reporter Kashmir Hill.

Smith said she hopes that her course will enable future business leaders to be more responsible stewards and managers of such technologies. “Many people think that making sure AI is ‘responsible’ is a technology task that should be left to data scientists and engineers,” she said. “The reality is, business managers and leaders have a critical role to play as they inform the priorities and values that are embedded into how AI technology is developed and used.”

A look back: Top Berkeley Haas moments of 2023

Gearing up to welcome a new year is the perfect opportunity to look back at highlights from 2023 at Berkeley Haas. A toast to 2023 wouldn’t be complete without marking the big celebrations, distinct milestones, grand achievements, and more than a few welcomes (alongside some farewells). In no particular order, here are our Top 10 picks for 2023.

    1. 125 years of reimagining business: We celebrated a BIG milestone with a big party on the 125th anniversary of the day that Cora Jane Flood announced the gift that launched the College of Commerce—now the Haas School of Business. Students, staff, alumni, campus and Haas senior leaders, and founding donor Flood’s family member gathered to honor the school’s trailblazers —and our ongoing impact on business and society
    2. Dean of the Year: Dean Ann Harrison was recognized by the business school publication Poets & Quants, which lauded Harrison for leading a major diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and belonging effort; broadening the profile of the Haas faculty, school board, and student body; and helping fundraise a total of $227 million for the school, among other successes. She also made the cover of our fall issue of Berkeley Haas Magazine. Harrison returns from sabbatical in early January.
      Photo of Dean Ann Harrison on campus.
      Harrison gracing the pages of Berkeley Haas Magazine. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small.

       

       

    3. More major milestones: Berkeley Executive Education (BEE) celebrated its 15th anniversary and Cleantech to Market (C2M) turned 10. Exec Ed has provided top programs to thousands of individuals in leadership, entrepreneurship, and strategy and finance, as well as customized programs for companies, government, and university partners. Promising climate technologies that addressed everything from water desalination to Earth element extraction to lightening-fast battery charging took center stage at a bigger and better than ever December Cleantech to Market (C2M) Climate Tech Summit.

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      Students in the Cleantech to Market program at the 2023 C2M Summit.
    4. Our generous community: The Berkeley Haas Development and Alumni Relations team (DAR) team reported a record three-year period in the school’s fundraising history, raising more than $171 million from alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends. The funds raised this fiscal year—about $56 million—brought Haas to the finish line of its five-year campaign. 
    5. Student walking in front of Haas sign in front of campus
      Photo: Noah Berger

      5. Undergrad’s big shift: We began to bid farewell to our incredible two-year undergraduate program as the Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program Office received its first round of applications from prospective first-year students for our inaugural Spieker class. The first class of four-year students will enter in the fall.

      Woman and man talking animatedly.
      Dean Ann Harrison with Ned Spieker, BS 66, who with his wife, Carol, funded the undergraduate program’s transformation.
    6. The rise of the Flex cohort: As part of the evening & weekend MBA program, students in the Flex cohort completed their first year of live remote courses, demonstrating an innovative educational model that will serve a greater range of students. Flex provides what many students say they need most: schedule flexibility in a top program. MBA student group gathered at Haas
    7. New brain power: Eight new ladder and 22 professional faculty members joined Haas in fall, bringing their intellect, passion, and unique perspectives to the school. With the new tenure-track arrivals, the ladder faculty—at 96 members—is now the largest it’s ever been and is closing in on Dean Harrison’s goal of 100. 
      A photo collage of all 8 new professors.
      From top row, left to right: New Berkeley Haas assistant professors Eben Lazarus, Cailin Slattery, Shawn Kim, Antoine Levy, Sam Kapon, Erica Bailey, returning professor Alexandre Mas, and new assistant professor Rachel Gershon.

    8. Making headlines: Our faculty were featured in national media outlets more than 500 times this year, bringing expertise to everything from the rising price of gas, to the Silicon Valley Bank fallout, to tech layoffs, to the future of AI.

      Image: AdobeStock

    9. Growth space: Construction continued on the new Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Hub, which will allow entrepreneurs at Haas—and across the university—to meet, brainstorm, and invent new startups. The Hub is expected to be completed in fall 2024.

      new entrepreneurship hub at Haas (rendition)
      A photo illustration of the home of the new hub, a Julia Morgan designed building under renovation. The building was constructed in 1908.
    10. Chart toppers: All of Haas’ degree programs once again performed well in key rankings. U.S. News & World Report ranked the EWMBA program #1 (again) and the undergraduate program #2; The Financial Times ranked the FTMBA program #7 globally and #4 in the U.S.; and the MFE program was ranked #4 by QuantNet.

Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program again ranks #2 in U.S. News

New undergraduate students walk through the Haas courtyard during orientation 2023.

The Haas Undergraduate Program has been ranked #2 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2024 Best Undergraduate Business Programs.

It’s the second year in a row that Haas has tied with MIT for the #2 spot. Both schools had peer assessment scores of 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 5. Wharton held the #1 spot with a score of 4.7.

The business school ranking is based entirely on a peer assessment survey of deans and senior faculty members at peer institutions. They are invited to rate peer programs with which they are familiar, based on each program’s scholarship record, curriculum, and quality of faculty and graduates. Read more about the ranking methodology.

In U.S. News’ 2024 Best Colleges, UC Berkeley again ranked as the #1 public university in the country, tied with UCLA.

Haas welcomes hundreds of new undergrad, MBA, PhD students to campus

Berkeley Haas welcomed an accomplished group of nearly 700 new full-time MBA, undergraduate, and PhD students to campus, kicking off the start of the fall 2023 semester. (The new evening & weekend and executive MBA classes arrived on campus earlier this summer.)

Full-time MBA program

A total of 244 new full-time MBA students kicked off five days of Week Zero orientation last Monday. Orientation included sessions on academic life at Haas, diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and belonging (DEIJB), team building, and career planning.

Wendy Guild, the new assistant dean of MBA programs at Haas, welcomed the class. “I want to celebrate the fact that you are here,” she said, noting that 2023 is a special year for Haas, marking the school’s 125th anniversary. “We have staying power,” she said. “We’re not going anywhere… We’re just getting better.”

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A total of 244 new full-time MBA students in the Class of 2025 arrived last week for Week Zero orientation. Wendy Guild, assistant dean of MBA programs, welcomed the group, noting that Haas is celebrating a special 125th anniversary this year.
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The new MBA class is comprised of 41% women; 20% are first-gen.
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Prof. Don Moore, acting Haas dean, urged students to reach out to each other and take advantage of the resources at Haas, especially when the curriculum gets tough. "All of us want to see you succeed," he said.
FTMBA 2025
Introducing the Gold Cohort!
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Introducing the Axe cohort!
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Introducing the Oski cohort!
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Introducing the Blue cohort!
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The Haas Undergraduate Program team welcomed 421 new students Monday. A total of 3,306 students applied to the program.
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The undergraduate class includes103 transfer students and 240 continuing UC Berkeley students.
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New students met up in the Haas courtyard throughout orientation.
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All photos by Jim Block and Noah Berger.

New students participated in a whirlwind of orientation activities—from a scavenger hunt to an ice cream social to cleanup work at a local nonprofit that supports people who are homeless.

The MBA students are an accomplished group, with an average of nearly six years of work experience, with 20% coming the tech sector and 24% from consulting.

Remy Freire, MBA 25, was a consultant at Bain & Company in Washington D.C. before coming to Haas.

“I’m interested in climate tech and renewable energy and I thought that the MBA would be a chance to take classes and do an internship in that area, and get some hands-on experience. A lot of folks are interested in this at Haas and I’ll be meeting people with similar interests to mine.”

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Imogen O’Connor, MBA 25

The class boasts 41% women and is richly international, including students from 39 countries.

Imogen O’Connor, MBA 26, worked as an analytical manager with the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK before she came to Haas.

“What really prompted me to do an MBA was around change management and leadership because I was coming up against a lot of barriers in the NHS,”  she said. “I really care about health care and just helping people. I think I need to develop certain skills in order to do that properly.”

The class has an average collective GMAT score of 732, and GREs of 163 quant and 161 verbal, and an average GPA of 3.63.

Eric Askins, director of MBA admissions, told the students to expect to learn from peers who come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Notably, 20% of the students in this class are the first generation of college students in their families. Fourteen of the new students are pursuing a dual MPA/MPH (public health) degree; nine are enrolled in the MBA/MEng (engineering) program.

Orientation week alumni speaker Lo Toney, MBA 97, founding managing partner at Plexo Capital, shared his wisdom with the class, encouraging students to explore and take advantage of the breadth and depth of the UC Berkeley and Haas campus resources, focus on academics in the first quarter in particular, and reach out to alumni to build a network.

Undergraduate program

The entering undergraduate class is 421 students strong this year.  The new class includes 103 transfer students and 240 continuing students, as well as new undergraduates students enrolled in special undergrad programs including The Global Management Program (GMP), The Robinson Life Science, Business, and Entrepreneurship Program (LSBE) (25 students), and the Management Entrepreneurship and Technology (M.E.T).

Acting Dean and Professor Don Moore, whose research covers leadership and confidence in business and beyond, welcomed the students.

“You’re joining a community of innovators, renowned researchers, entrepreneurs, and movers and shakers who have made a profound impacts on business and on society,” he said.

“You’re joining a community of innovators, renowned researchers,  entrepreneurs, and movers and shakers who have made a profound impacts on business and on society.” – Acting Dean Don Moore

Moore said the long list of leaders who embody the Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principles (Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always and Beyond Yourself) includes professional golfer Collin Morikawa, BS 19, who won the 2020 PGA Championship; Nabeela Syed, BS 21, the first Muslim Indian-American and the youngest woman to serve in the Illinois House of Representatives; and gaming entrepreneur Kevin Chou, BS 02, who with his wife,  Dr. Connie Chen, provided the largest-ever personal gift to UC Berkeley by an alumni under the age of 40 to help fund Chou Hall.

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Undergraduate students mingle in the Haas courtyard. Photo: Noah Berger

Emma Hayes Daftary, assistant dean of the undergraduate program, told the students that “the DLPs will challenge you to shift from what you, as an individual, can achieve, to what we, as a community, can accomplish.”

“We are living in a time of tremendous global transition, and within this time of upheaval and transition comes an urgent call for informed, collaborative, effective leaders,” she said. “There are urgent issues that are facing us—urgent issues that will require extraordinary leadership to develop and execute solutions to solve them.”

PhD program

The PhD program welcomed its largest-ever cohort of 19 new students from around the world—including Russia, China, Ethiopia, India, South Korea, Nigeria, Portugal, Canada, and Germany.

New students include Abdulmuttolib (Abdul) Salako, Ziyi Liu, Sean Chen, Sarah Danner,  Hanna Yu, Sara Shemali, Jordan Mickens, Nikita (Nick) Akimov, Wenxiao Yang, Srikanth Janjirala, Yutao Chen, Maggie Ye, Skyler Chen, David Gravanita , William Zhang, Zi Yang Chen, Nathan Godin, Nick Otis, and Fikremariam (Fikre) Gedefaw.

View PhD student profiles here.

new Phd students at Haas in a group photo in Chou Hall
(From back row left-right) Abdulmuttolib Salako, Ziyi Liu, Sean Chen, Sarah Danner,  Hanna Yu, Sara Shemali, Jordan Mickens, Nikita (Nick) Akimov, Wenxiao Yang, Srikanth Janjirala, Yutao Chen, Maggie Ye, Skyler Chen, David Gravanita , William Zhang, Zi Yang Chen, and Nathan Godin. Missing from photo: Nick Otis, and Fikremariam (Fikre) Gedefaw. Photo: Jim Block

Berkeley M.E.T. launches a pre-collegiate summer camp

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The M.E.T.ia summer program is for rising high school juniors and seniors with an aptitude for math and science. (Photo by Adam Lau/Berkeley Engineering)

The UC Berkeley M.E.T. (Management Entrepreneurship and Technology) Program this summer launched a pre-collegiate program that brings high school students to campus to explore how engineering and business intersect.

Fifty rising juniors and seniors in the new M.E.T. Innovation Academy (M.E.T.ia) took residence on the Berkeley campus for two weeks in July for the program, which is designed to provide real-world experience in solving business and technology challenges.

The program is designed to provide real-world experience in solving business and technology challenges.

Students visited world-renowned corporations and organizations, interacted with successful entrepreneurs from the heart of Silicon Valley, and met Berkeley M.E.T. student entrepreneurs. M.E.T. is a dual degree program launched in 2017 by the Haas School of Business and the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley. The program, designed for students with a strong aptitude for math and science, was held July 17-28.

“As a school we are mission-driven to change society for the better—and the Innovation Academy gives us a chance to expose a diverse group of students to new ideas that could potentially change the world,” said Saikat Chaudhuri, faculty director of the undergraduate M.E.T. program. 

Students in the M.E.T.ia summer program pitched during a Shark Tank style session at UC Berkeley’s Blum Hall over the summer. (Photo by Adam Lau/Berkeley Engineering)

The group participated in interactive workshops focused on topics such as how to think like an entrepreneur; self-driving and energy-saving cars; developing business plans and resumes; accessing venture capital, and launching startups. 

The students also headed off campus for visits to Berkeley-based Ambi Robotics, an AI-powered robotics company with UC Berkeley roots, and to San Francisco-based audiovisual company Dolby. 

The program wrapped up with a Shark Tank-style pitch session, with student teams presenting their capstone projects to a panel of judges. Judges included serial entrepreneur Nilesh Bhandari; Sibyl Chen, general manager at UC Berkeley SkyDeck; and Darren Cooke, executive director of the UC Berkeley Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Center.

Sahil Puranik, a rising high school senior from Fremont, California, pitched an idea to turn food waste into energy.  Pitching during the program helped boost his confidence in presenting and collaborating, he said. “Before, I never really had the confidence to talk to people I didn’t know,” he said. “But after this program, I found it a lot easier to just reach out to people who have shared interests.”

M.E.T.ai drew 50 students who lived on campus for two weeks while participating in the new program. (Photo by Adam Lau/Berkeley Engineering)

“Not only has this program shown me the importance of learning from others, but also about passing down what I have learned from my experiences—skills and lessons that I hope to teach to others,” student Jay Ananth added.

Another program highlight was an IPO simulation led by Michael Grimes, BS 87, EECS,  the head of Global Technology Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley and the M.E.T. program’s founder. The session taught students about how an IPO works in the real world. “It was fascinating to see the different forces manipulate the price, but all within a set of rules,” M.E.T.ia student Kaelen Cazzell said.

Due to strong interest in the program, next year’s M.E.T. class size will increase to 70. Chaudhuri said he looks forward to what the students will accomplish.

“There are so many existential challenges right now,” Chaudhuri said. “There’s climate change, geopolitical tensions, transportation that needs to be disrupted, and healthcare that isn’t covering everybody. I think there are incredible opportunities for students to affect change.”

2023 Haas Undergraduate, Full-time, and Evening & Weekend MBA classes toss caps

Undergraduate Commencement

Commencement speaker Elena Gomez, BS 91, chief financial officer at Boston-based Toast, told undergrad students to learn “when to take the shot or pass the ball.” Gomez said that some of her observations on teamwork come from coaching a basketball team of 10-year-old girls that had one clear star.

Commencement speaker Elena Gomez, BS 91, at the lectern.
Commencement speaker Elena Gomez, BS 91. Photo: Noah Berger.

“Part of me was excited about winning a lot of games, but what joy would that bring without getting the rest of the team involved?” she said. “As a player or as a teammate in the workplace, and more importantly as a star, because I see a lot of stars out in the audience, learn when your teammates need you to step up and take that last shot.”

As a leader, she continued, “you will have the opportunity to help others, your team, your colleagues, imagine the impossible. As graduates from Haas, you are ready for all of that. You are ready to be a star and you are ready to pass the ball and you are ready to help others see in themselves what they thought was not possible.”

Dean Ann Harrison noted that:

  • 54% of the undergraduates are women.
  • 47% have earned a dual degree.
  • 20% are the first in their families to attend college

“Look next to you–look in front of you–look behind you,” Harrison said. “You are surrounded by some of the smartest, boldest, coolest people you will meet anywhere in the world.”

Undergraduate Award Winners

Departmental Citation to the student with the most outstanding academic achievement in the field of business: Noah Oppenheimer

Question the Status Quo: Vedika Dayal

Confidence Without Attitude: Charissa Pham

Students Always: Jordan Laredo

Beyond Yourself: Vala Makhfi

Student speaker: Nina Dickens 

Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching:
Lecturer Stephen Etter, BS 83, MBA 89

Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) Khalil Somani, MBA 23 

MBA Commencement (FTMBA + EWMBA)

Commencement speaker Frank Cooper III, BS 86, at the lectern.
Commencement speaker Frank Cooper III, BS 86. Photo: Noah Berger.

Commencement speaker Frank Cooper III, BS 86, chief marketing officer at Visa, told graduates to embrace risk, reflecting on his transition from working in a law firm to the music industry.

“The fact that life is short is precisely the reason we should take risks rather than fear them,” he said. “It turns out there’s no such thing as a no-risk proposition anyway, even along what feels like the safest and surest path. From economic recession, to industry bubbles, to political surprises—we’ve all seen immovable mountains crumble.”

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Photo: Noah Berger.

By taking a risk, Cooper said his varied experiences gave him the opportunity to work with extraordinary people, including Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Lionel Messi, Magic Johnson, Eva Longoria, and Forest Whitaker.

What did they share in common? “They had an idea about their purpose in the world and had the courage to push back against uncertainty,” he said.

Students in caps and gowns getting their picture taken.
Photo: Noah Berger.

Award Winners

Question the Status Quo: Alyssa Kewenvoyouma

Confidence Without Attitude: Via Abolencia 

Student Always:  Julia Konso Mbakire

Beyond Yourself: Julian M. Ramirez, Jr.

Berkeley Leader: Afraz Khan

Student Speaker: Ricky Ghoshal

Academic Achievement Award: Math Williams (3.992)

Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching:
Professor Lucas Davis
Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) Zia Mehmood, MS 20, PhD 24

Five students in caps and gowns getting their picture taken.
Photo: Noah Berger.

EWMBA 2023 Award Winners 

Question the Status Quo: Bob Wang

Confidence Without Attitude: Ana Martinez

Students Always: Krupa Patel

Beyond Yourself: Supriya Golas

Outstanding Academic Performance: Andrew Hurley

Student speaker: Farzad Yousefi

Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching:
Evening MBA Program: Lecturer Maria Carkovic
Weekend MBA Program: Assistant Professor Ambar La Forgia
Graduate Student Instructor (GSI): Mahek Chheda

A man holding a graduation cap that says Papa with a picture of a bear standing next to a woman holding a cap that says Mama with a picture of a bear.
Photo: Noah Berger.

Alum’s documentary ‘Fire on the Hill’ explores lives of South Central LA cowboys

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Alum Brett Fallentine, director of the documentary Fire on the Hill.

Brett Fallentine, BS 03 (business), and BA 03 (film studies), is releasing his documentary Fire on the Hill: The Cowboys of South Central LA on several streaming platforms this month, including Amazon Prime Video. The film centers on a group of urban cowboys and the last public horse stable in South Central, Los Angeles—and the aftermath of a mysterious fire that destroyed it. PBS will broadcast Fire on The Hill in June to celebrate the federal Juneteenth Holiday. 

An award-winning documentary and commercial director, Fallentine started his film career as an apprentice editor to George Lucas on the film Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith. He now runs his own film company, Preamble Pictures. He is currently working on a new film about a family that defied all odds to survive the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Sonoma.

Haas News: So how did you find the story that became Fire on the Hill?

Brett Fallentine: I had heard about this riding community when I moved to LA, and I became really fascinated with it—the juxtaposition of this rural equestrian lifestyle in this neighborhood with rival gang culture located at the juncture of two major freeways in Los Angeles. It’s a place that you would never expect to see something like this happen but it’s this culture that’s been there since the1940s. A lot of famous riders have come out of this stable who’ve gone on to become world champions in rodeo, but no one really knew that at the time. Ultimately, that was one reason why I became so interested in the story. 

So how did you find the Hill?

I went to places where people said they’d seen the riders before and no one showed up. Through several trips, I found manure and followed a trail that led to the Hill horse stable. I started interviewing and one interview led to another and another and they invited me on a ride. I wasn’t sure of the story at first, but after the Hill stable fire, I started learning about the history of the stable, the impact it had on the youth in the community, and why having this culture was important for them. I ended up meeting their families and watching them grow up over subsequent years of filming. 

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A scene from Fire on the Hill.

Did making this film shatter a lot of stereotypes for you?

One of the big themes that started to emerge was that positive stories like this one don’t really emerge from South Central because popular media tends to focus on the area’s violence and crime. I grew up in the 1990s when movies like Menace II Society and Boyz n the Hood popularized that area. So I believed that part of LA was dangerous and I avoided it. When I learned that this riding culture existed it sparked my curiosity enough to go down there and see for myself. I became interested in the story behind the Hill and the community of riders I met really changed my mind and my feelings about this area in a way that never would have happened otherwise.


Watch the trailer for Fire on the Hill.

You track multiple stories in the film, all different and compelling.

We follow Ghuan Featherstone, who worked with the youth in the community at the Hill. Among the rival gangs, the stable has always been a neutral zone that provides a way for kids to not only work with animals but to work with kids from other neighborhoods who they would not normally interact with. Since the fire, Ghuan has started a non-profit inspired by the Hill Stable called Urban Saddles. We follow Chris Byrd, a rising bull rider from Compton, who enters his rookie year of professional rodeo. There’s also Calvin Gray, who having found freedom on the back of a horse, must choose between the cowboy lifestyle and his family. Their stories shine a fresh light on what it means to be a modern “cowboy” in an urban world.

Their stories shine a fresh light on what it means to be a modern “cowboy” in an urban world.

How did Ghuan work with local youths? Were there challenges?

The kids in the neighborhood would wander into this stable, just mesmerized. They would first learn to care for the animals and  eventually get to ride. But one of the quick lessons learned is that these animals are big and you can’t force them to do anything so you’re going to have to work with them. Ghuan told me about kids who learned to solve differences based on how tough they were. Soon they found out that you can’t really do that on a horse. You have to be willing to work with a horse and those insights started to carry over into how they were settling their differences back in their neighborhoods. That became an important message throughout the community.

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Brett Fallentine (middle) with the cast of Fire on the Hill at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

How long did you work on this film?

I began filming in 2011 and the stable fire happened a few months into the process. The film took about five to six years after that to make because the subject’s stories were constantly evolving, even while we were in editorial.  So I’d grab my camera and follow up on their stories. We completed the film in 2019, and showed it at festivals. Amazon Prime picked it up and released it in 2020, a time when the world was focused on Covid. So we’re thrilled to have it re-released on streaming channels like Amazon and have it nationally broadcast later this year through PBS. 

We’re thrilled to have it re-released on streaming channels like Amazon and have it nationally broadcast later this year through PBS. 

You said that you rode horses during the making of Fire on the Hill. Where did you learn to ride?

I did have some experience riding as a kid and riding was something that was always around me, but I had never really learned to ride until making this film. The cowboys provided a lot of opportunities to ride in South LA after the cameras had wrapped for the day. The men and women there were very open and willing to teach me and it’s become more of a part of my life now.

You entered UC Berkeley as a molecular and cellular biology major. How did you land in film?

I switched majors my sophomore year, which is pretty late in the game, especially going from science into the arts and business. I had always been behind a camera as a kid, making little movies and commercials growing up, but my family was science-focused, so that was the assumed route. I was in class in a lab one day and there was kind of an epiphany where I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ and at that moment I switched from being an MCB student to double majoring in Film Studies and business at Haas. 

How do the two degrees work together in your career?

They work hand in hand. I started working on Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith during my last semester at Berkeley, and I was using a lot more of what I’d learned at Haas than I was with the film studies. Over the years, I’ve found myself going back to what I learned in marketing, accounting and organizational behavior. Film is a business and having that knowledge has been super important to me. 

Haas names alumni business leaders as 2023 commencement speakers

Visa’s Chief Marketing Officer Frank Cooper III, BS 86, and Toast’s Chief Financial Officer Elena Gomez, BS 91, will serve as Berkeley Haas commencement speakers this May.

Commencement ceremonies will be held at the Greek Theatre, with the undergrads tossing caps on Tuesday, May 16, and the FTMBA and Evening & Weekend MBA students graduating together on Friday, May 19. 

Cooper will speak at the combined Full-time and Evening & Weekend MBA commencement, and Gomez will speak at undergraduate commencement. 

Frank Cooper III

A branding and advertising leader, Cooper leads Visa’s marketing across all regions and functions, including brand, data and insights, social and digital platforms, content, and sponsorships. Cooper, recognized by Fast Company as one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business,” describes himself as “a marketer in the broadest sense: I seek to change things—change ways of thinking but more important to change behaviors.”

Prior to working at Visa, Cooper served as chief marketing officer at BlackRock, shaping the firm’s global brand and marketing strategy. 

Cooper has also previously held C-suite positions as chief marketing and creative officer at Buzzfeed, and as PepsiCo’s chief marketing officer of global consumer engagement for more than 12 years. Cooper also served as former chairman of the American Advertising Federation and on the for-profit boards of Burlington Stores and Ogmento/Flyby Media. 

He began his career as an entertainment lawyer and was a senior executive at Motown and Def Jam. He is a four-time recipient of Billboard’s “Power 100” and AdColor’s “Legend” award. 

He began his career as an entertainment lawyer and was a senior executive at Motown and Def Jam. He is a four-time recipient of Billboard’s “Power 100” and AdColor’s “Legend” award. 

He earned an undergraduate degree in business administration at UC Berkeley, and a JD from Harvard Law School, where he served as the Supreme Court Editor of The Harvard Law Review.

Elena Gomez 

As chief financial officer at Boston-based Toast, Gomez oversees global finance, investor relations, and corporate development. Under her financial leadership, the cloud-based restaurant management software company launched its initial public offering in 2021

Prior to her position at Toast, Gomez served as the chief financial officer at Zendesk, where she grew the company’s market capitalization to more than $15 billion.

Throughout her 30-year career, Gomez has helped organizations scale through cycles of massive growth while leading in industries that have been transformed by digital transactions. 

She has held financial leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies including Salesforce, Visa, and Charles Schwab. 

Additionally, Gomez serves on the board of directors for Smartsheet and PagerDuty as audit committee chair.  She was also named to the San Francisco Business TImes’ 2017 list of “Most Influential Women in Business.”

An advocate for corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion, she serves on the Founding Advisory Council of the Center for Gender, Equity & Leadership (EGAL) at Haas, as well as the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco.

Welcome Bears! New Berkeley Haas students begin classes

Undergraduate students in the Haas courtyard
New undergraduate students gathered in the Haas courtyard. Photo: Noah Berger

The Berkeley Haas courtyard has sprung back to life. Over the past week, new undergraduate, full-time MBA, and PhD students arrived for orientations, getting a first glimpse of life in the classroom. Students in the Berkeley Haas Executive MBA and the evening & weekend MBA program, including the first Flex MBA class, came to campus for orientation last month.

Full-time MBA Program 

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(Photos by Jim Block)

Spirits were high among the entering full-time MBA students who gathered for the traditional Week Zero orientation Aug. 15-17. School and student leaders (including Week Zero Co-Chair Dingmi Gong, MBA 23) and Jamie Breen, assistant dean of MBA Programs, welcomed the group, who throughout the two days participated in sessions on diversity, equity and inclusion at Haas, productivity and time management, and an introduction to the case study method.  They also met their study groups for Teams@Haas, a program that’s celebrating its 10th year in the MBA curriculum with lessons on collaborative leadership.

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International MBA students had a separate orientation session to learn about careers, financial aid, and housing— and just ask questions. Photo: Jim Block

MBA Association (MBAA) President Jude Watson, a former chef and community organizer from Seattle, introduced Dean Ann Harrison, who emphasized how important it is for students to lead on critical issues such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as climate change. She noted that both innovation and collaboration that will be required to solve the world’s toughest problems.

“The issue of climate change has become visibly real, and despite the important climate bill that Joe Biden has put in place, we have a very long way to go. It’s just a down payment on the change we need,” she said. “I believe that you, as business leaders, will lead the change.”

“I believe that you, as business leaders, will lead the change.” Dean Ann Harrison.

Orientation speaker Lo Toney, MBA 97, urged students to explore, celebrate, and focus during their journeys. Toney, founding managing partner of Plexo Capital, told students that they will learn the most from their peers–not just about the diversity of where people are from, but what they have done. “Look around you,” he said. “These are people who are going to be in extremely senior positions,” who will help you along your journey. 

Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate students shaking hands in Spieker Forum
Berkeley Haas undergraduate students participated in ice breakers throughout orientation day in Spieker Forum. Photo: Noah Berger

In welcoming the new class, Dean Ann Harrison noted the sweeping changes coming for the undergraduate program, anchored by the recent $30 million gift from alumnus Warren “Ned” Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, BA 66, (political science), that will be used to create the new four-year Spieker Undergraduate Program

In her welcome message, Emma Hayes Daftary, the new assistant dean of undergraduate admissions, expanded on the changes and the importance of enhancing collaboration among the students in the competitive program. “This program and our Defining Leadership Principles will challenge you to shift from what you, as an individual, can achieve, to what we, as a community, can accomplish,’ she said. “It’s for this reason that we’re focusing on culture this year, and we’re working to create a more collaborative, inclusive, and equitable culture in the undergraduate program.”

Hayes Daftary said the first order of business is to  eliminate the “Haas Curve” grading policy—which drew cheers from the students.

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Students cheered the news of a plan to eliminate the “Haas Curve” grading policy for undergraduates. Photo: Noah Berger

She said the policy of grading on a curve was adopted in 2011 across the MBA and undergraduate programs for ease and consistency. But in May 2021, the Undergraduate Program Committee voted to recommend that the policy be eliminated. Policies such as grade caps and grading on a curve are often criticized because they lead students to compete against each other, but in this case it was also deemed to be ineffective, she said.

 “I’m not a competitive person, so I think it’s good…It will definitely help.” said Gloria Gonzalez-Serrano, a continuing undergraduate student who plans to pursue a career in digital marketing.

Other program changes include the hiring of more staff to focus on the academic and student experience, funding the Haas Business Student Association (HBSA) at historic levels, renovating the undergraduate program lounge, and upgrading the Cheit Hall classrooms. 

Browse more highlights (photos by Noah Berger):

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Evening & Weekend MBA

The new class of evening & weekend MBA students arrived on campus in July for a jam-packed “WE Launch” orientation weekend of work sessions, team-building exercises, and an introduction to the Haas Defining Leadership Principles.

A few details about the Class of 2025: More than 40% of the new students have at least one advanced degree, including 21 PhDs. More than 40% of the class was born outside of the U.S. Nearly half—47%— are married or partnered, with 22% raising kids (altogether they have 80 children.)

Browse highlights from EWMBA orientation here. (Photos by Jim Block)

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Also, some fun facts:

  • The class includes a violinist who performed at Carnegie Hall, a former professional ballet dancer, and three published authors, including the author of the “Silicon Valley Dictionary.”
  • Among the students is a professional water polo player, a Formula One race car driver, and the general manager of a minor league baseball team
  • The class boasts the youngest elected city council member of a Bay Area City, the lead singer in a band that raises money for domestic violence victims, and a volunteer for the Yellowstone Wolf Project who helps with tracking wolves. There’s also a flight controller for NASA Mission Control, a pilot instructor for the Air Force, and a paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army.

PhD

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Top row (left to right): Ockemia Bean, Amol Singh Raswan, Simoni Jain, Karin Li, Edgar Sanchez-Cuevas, Jacob Moore, Analexis Glaude, and Rui Sun. Bottom row (left to right): Sylvia Chin, Bernardo Lembi Ramalho Maciel, Patrik Räty, Silvia Farina, Minghao Yang, Dingzhe Leng. Photo: Jim Block

A total of 14 students joined the PhD program this fall, with an equal split between men and women. The group hails from around the world, including the U.S., Brazil, China, Colombia, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, and Singapore.

The students’ area of study is equally diverse, including accounting, business and public policy, finance, marketing science, management of organizations, and real estate.

A record-breaking 2022 for fundraising at Berkeley Haas

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Berkeley Haas raised $69 million from more than 4,300 donors in fiscal 2022. Campus photo: Noah Berger

The Haas School of Business announced its best fundraising year in the school’s history, raising $69 million from more than 4,300 donors in fiscal year 2022. 

The banner year was anchored by a $30 million gift to transform the Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program.

This year’s efforts bring the total raised for the past two fiscal years to a record $116 million, the most ever raised in two consecutive years.

“So many alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends went beyond themselves this year, providing unbelievable support for Haas,” Dean Ann Harrison said. “Their generous gifts will be used to do important work within our community, work that will help Haas build the next generation of Berkeley leaders, stay connected to and support our alumni community, and remain a top business school. We are truly grateful.”

Fundraising highlights from the past year:

  • $69 million raised from donations by 4,339 alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends.
  • A $30 million gift, the largest single donation in the school’s history, from Ned Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, BS 66 (political science). Their gift will be used to launch the four-year Spieker Undergraduate Program in Fall of 2024.
  • The addition of seven new Builders of Berkeley—donors who given at least $1 million to Berkeley—including Haruki, MBA 12, and Mikiko Satomi, Kevin, BS 82 JD/MBA 85 and Eileen Shields, John Hokom, BS 59, MBA 60, Steve Etter, BS 83, MBA 89, Roshni and Jagdeep Singh, MBA 90, Joanne and Jon Goldstein, BS 82; and the Liang-Kuo Family.
  • The 2022 one-day Big Give campaign, which raised $2.475 million from a record 911 gifts.
  • A record number of gifts of $2,500, the new gift level for the Haas Leadership Society.
  • A record $4.86 million raised for the Haas Fund, the most raised in one year. Gifts to the Haas Fund are used for scholarships and program enhancements, as well as our Alumni Network podcasts, lifelong learning, and alumni programming.

Alumni engagement highlights from the past year:  

Alumni engagement also thrived in 2022, with a record-breaking group of nearly 1,700 alumni returning to campus for their makeup and in-person MBA reunion weekend celebrations. Together, the MBA reunion classes of 2020 and 2021 donated $2.2 million and gave 11 lead gifts. At the annual Alumni Conference, the combined virtual and in-person events allowed alumni from all over the world to tap into Haas thought leadership. In-person events fostered community-building and connections.  

More alumni engagement highlights:

  • Alumni affinity groups increased programming for women graduates as well as programming in real estate and growth industries like cryptocurrency and blockchain.  
  • Alumni sourced and shared 474 jobs with the school as part of the Hire Haas campaign.  
  • More than 3,700 alumni accepted a call to action, volunteering for Haas by assisting with admissions, meeting with students for career conversations, serving as guest speakers or panelists, or leading and arranging events and programs for fellow alumni.  
  • The OneHaas Alumni Podcast produced 42 podcasts featuring alumni in conversation about their Haas experience and career trajectories.
  • Three new mentoring programs were launched to support student career planning and help build greater alumni connections.
  • A self-paced alumni lifelong-learning management platform was launched which provides video content curated for intellectual curiosity. The first two courses focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resources for alumni. 

For more information about investing in the schools priorities and/or becoming a volunteer please contact Howie Avery, assistant dean for Development & Alumni Relations, or the Development and Alumni Relations office.

Largest gift in Berkeley Haas history will transform undergraduate business program from two to four years

Berkeley, Calif.— The Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, today announced that its top-ranked two-year undergraduate business program will expand to become a four-year program, supported by the largest single gift in the school’s history.

In recognition of the $30 million gift from Haas alumnus Warren “Ned” Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, BA 66, (political science), UC Berkeley will name the Haas School’s four-year undergraduate business program the Spieker Undergraduate Business Program. The first four-year cohort of students will enroll in August of 2024.

Haas alum Ned Spieker
Ned Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, gave a record $30 million to Haas to transform the undergraduate program. Photo: Karl Nielsen

“A four-year undergraduate business experience will provide remarkable new opportunities for students,” said Ned Spieker, a Haas School Board member who is founder and former Chairman and CEO of Spieker Properties, one of the largest owner-operators of commercial property in the U.S. “My hope is that this gift will help build a program that’s second-to-none in the world, cementing Haas as the top undergraduate business school for generations to come.”

“This is a historic, game-changing investment in undergraduate business education,” said Berkeley Haas Dean Ann E. Harrison. ”We are so thrilled that Ned and Carol have made a commitment to Haas toward building the next generation of business leaders.”

Historically, students have applied to the Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program as sophomores and enrolled as juniors. Now, prospective Berkeley students will have the option to apply directly to Haas and enter as freshmen, giving them an additional two years for deeper learning, including career development, study abroad opportunities, entrepreneurship programs, capstone projects, mentorship engagements, and internships. While the majority of undergraduates will enter as freshmen in the future, continuing UC Berkeley and transfer students may continue to apply for acceptance to the program as sophomores.

Delivering impact

The Spiekers’ gift will be used to deliver impact in five areas critical to supporting the program, including:

  • Endowing a new scholars program
    The new Spieker Scholars Program will attract the best and brightest undergraduate students. These students have challenged themselves academically throughout their high school experience and demonstrated exceptional leadership skills through athletic and co-curricular pursuits, their commitment to creating a positive social impact in their communities, and their curiosity for learning outside of the traditional academic setting. Spieker Scholars, three to four chosen per class, will receive significant financial support and enrichment opportunities. In addition to the Spieker Scholars Program, this gift will fund an expansion of the scholarships available for students who may have financial barriers to attending UC Berkeley.
  • Building outreach and support
    Outreach efforts will be expanded to ensure that high-performing students from all backgrounds consider Haas. A first-year academic advisor will work with admitted students, providing the knowledge and resources required to navigate the university system. Students will also have access to preparatory courses that will build their foundational knowledge around business concepts and strengthen their quantitative skills.
  • Creating a life-changing student experience
    Haas will increase staffing for academic and admissions advising, mental health services and support, marketing and admissions, alumni outreach, and student orientation. These additional touchpoints will ensure that undergraduate students are maximizing their time within the ecosystem of Berkeley Haas and developing deep relationships with the alumni community.
  • Providing new co-curricular opportunities
    Funds will be used to support student activities such as experiential learning workshops, international research, travel opportunities, social gatherings, student conferences and competitions, and additional leadership opportunities.
  • Enhancing classroom technology and infrastructure
    To provide students a state-of-the-art learning experience, classrooms in Cheit Hall, where many undergraduate students take classes, will be upgraded with the latest audio, visual, and media equipment.

A crucial role in campus planning

Ned Spieker, who is also founder and chairman of Continuing Life communities, which operates large-scale communities for seniors in California, met his wife, Carol, at UC Berkeley. Their four children are Cal grads. Carol Spieker, an Emeritus Trustee of the UC Berkeley Foundation, has served on the governing board of Filoli, a National Historic Trust property, and as chairman of the board of Sacred Heart Schools.

For years, Ned Spieker has played a crucial role in Haas campus planning, convincing the administration of the importance of maximizing its campus footprint. Spieker served as a catalyst and champion for the construction of Haas’ newest building, Chou Hall. Recently, Spieker shifted his efforts to the undergraduate program.

The undergraduate program has added three multidisciplinary programs and one minor outside of the core program over the past several years. The new programs include:

Early support

The expanded four-year undergraduate program has also received a number of gifts from other generous supporters, which helped bring the total raised so far to more than $45 million (including the Spieker gift). Early supporters include Janelle Grimes, BA 86, (political science), and Michael Grimes, BS 87, (electrical engineering and computer science). Michael Grimes, the M.E.T. program’s founding donor, played an instrumental role by working with Berkeley Haas as a founder of the four-year undergraduate program. Additional program supporters include Steve Etter, BS 83, MBA 89; Maria and Gene Frantz, BS 88; Joanne and Jon Goldstein, BS 82; Melissa and Clif Marriott, BS 99; Adria and Brian Sheth; Roshni and Jagdeep Singh, MBA 90; and Melody and Jerry Weintraub, BS 80, MBA 88.

The Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program was founded in 1898, the same year the business school (then called the College of Commerce) was established. As the second-oldest business school in the United States, Berkeley Haas provides research, thought leadership, and talent development to lead the way to a more inclusive and sustainable future.

Read an FAQ about the new program here.

 

Q&A: Yue Chen, BS 20, MFE 23, pioneering Division 1 women’s basketball player, aims to be a Triple Bear

photo of Yue Chen
Undergraduate alum Yue Chen, BS 20, is currently studying in the Berkeley Haas MFE program and plans to enter the MBA program in 2025.

Yue Chen, BS 20, MFE 23, is the first-ever Chinese national to play on a NCAA Division 1 Women’s basketball team. At 6’6” and the daughter of professional basketball players, Chen played center for the women’s team at Cal for five years before returning to China to play professionally for 18 months.

Now, the pioneering athlete is back at Berkeley with sights on becoming a Triple Bear. Chen is studying in the Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) program, among a record 32% women in the Class of 2023, along with a diverse group of students from 17 different countries. This fall, Chen will intern as an associate at

After Chen finishes the MFE degree, she plans to begin the full-time MBA program in 2025, accepted under Accelerated Access, which allows students to apply as seniors and defer for several years. We talked to Chen recently about her basketball career and why she chose to do three degrees at Haas.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up?

Yue Chen: I was born in Beijing and spent my first 18 years there. Both my parents met in college. They used to be professional basketball players in China so I was born into a basketball family. I started playing basketball when I was a little kid and it was a big part of my life. During high school, I was facing the decision of either going to play pro or going to college. It was always a dream for me to come to the States and to play ball and also pursue academics simultaneously.

When was the first time that you visited the U.S. ?

I was fortunate to attend a Junior NBA camp when I was 12. Three teams played each other from Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. The winning team got the opportunity to come to the States and watch the All Star Games. I played for Beijing, the winning team, and we came to the States to watch the All Star Games in Dallas. That was my first time in the US. Kobe Bryant was there and people were truly enjoying basketball with others and celebrating. That was really a culture shock, and I was like, “Oh, I want to stand on this course one day, and also play here.” So that’s always been a dream, a goal, from then on.

How did that experience lead you to Cal?

In high school, I needed to choose a college. I looked at places like Berkeley, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and did official visits as an athlete. Of these three schools, Berkeley was my first choice. While the others are definitely great universities, I felt like the culture, the people here are just awesome. The coaches and players were warm and welcoming. I said, “Oh, I’m coming here.” I still keep in touch with a lot of the staff and coaches.

Yue Chen playing center for Cal Women's basketball
Yue Chen played center for the Cal Women’s Basketball team for five years as an undergraduate before playing professionally in China.

You were among the first group of students to apply for the Accelerated Access Program at Haas in 2020. Then you decided to do an MFE degree before the MBA. What led to that decision?

Berkeley has one of the top MFE programs in the world. As an undergrad, I was a double major in statistics and business administration and those subjects have been a passion for me. I’ve loved math since middle school and I’m really good at it.  The MFE is a really interesting intersection of mathematics, statistics, and finance. So that’s how I came to the program. It’s a perfect combination of my interests.

Yue Chen with Cal Basketball teammates
Yue Chen (right) with Cal Women’s Basketball teammates at senior night.

How are you finding the MFE program so far?

The class material is really hard. The professors are great and you are surrounded by talented, smart students. So it’s just awesome to be with them, to learn with them, and to learn from them. Every day I’m improving at something and that feels really great.  This semester, I am taking a class on Fixed Income with Professor Richard Stanton, who has won Haas’ Cheit Outstanding Teaching award three times. He is enthusiastic and engaging, sharing not only his knowledge about knowledge but his experience in the financial industry. 

Yue Chen with Alibaba's CEO
Yue Chen meeting a role model, Alibaba CEO Joseph Tsai. “He’s someone I really look up to when I envision my future.”

A great mentor for me at Haas is Stephen Etter, a finance lecturer for 10 years. He respects the potential of all students from diverse backgrounds.I met him when I was 17 when I first visited Cal and he’s been a great support both on and off the court—with my professional career, my Haas application, and career development.

Why did you choose to combine the MFE with the MBA degree?

It’s really hard for undergrad students to say what they want to do in the future. We’re really young. So the deferred MBA program gives us time to try out different things, and to gain different experiences to be sure about what I really want to do for the future. This gives an option to come back to Haas and make more connections and improve my skills and see how business is run from a leader’s perspective.

What kind of career are you thinking about?

After just finishing my basketball career, I’m trying different things right now and the MFE is preparing me to enter the finance career path. I’m looking forward to gaining more experience in the finance world and eventually, maybe, doing some business involving sports. Someone I really look up to is Joe Tsai, co-founder of Alibaba, who owns the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Liberty basketball teams. He was a student athlete at Yale and played lacrosse, and he’s a really successful businessman. So he’s someone I really look up to when I envision my future.

Do you still play basketball?

Although I’m not playing sports anymore I am still close to Cal Athletics. I hope I can help out and offer support to young student athletes. I want to use what I’ve learned on my journey, and what I’ve gained here at Berkeley, to help young people who are facing challenges—so that they will be able to celebrate their journey at Cal long after they graduate.

Boost@BerkeleyHaas 2022 high school grads heading to college

2022 Boost grads
Boost@BerkeleyHaas grad Jayiontae Williams, second from left, takes time out for a family photo at the Boost commencement. Photo: Ute Frey

Since its founding 33 years ago, Boost@BerkeleyHaas has helped more than 1,000 Bay Area high school students make it to college, almost all of them the first in their families to go.

Tapping faculty and student mentorship resources from Haas, Boost provides academic and financial resources, college workshops, and professional development to economically disadvantaged students throughout all four years of high school.

The Boost class of 2022 continued to excel, boasting the second-highest number ever of students accepted to UC Berkeley as freshmen.

Lucas Abbott has served as the director of Boost@BerkeleyHaas for eight of the 17 years he has been involved with the program. We recently asked him a few questions about Boost.

Lucas Abbott
Lucas Abbott, director of Boost@BerkeleyHaas

Where are the graduating students going this year?

We’re so proud of our 35 grads. Historically, almost 100% of Boost students pursue higher education, aside from a few who took a gap year or went into a trade instead of college. We always have at least one of our graduates get into UC Berkeley. This year we had our second-highest number of students accepted to Cal, with seven program graduates getting in. Last year, there was a record number of 15 students accepted to Cal.

What was remarkable about this group? Could you highlight some standout students?

Every Boost student is remarkable to me. To name a few, Amber Nolazco-Torrez applied and was accepted to 16 colleges and universities and will be attending Harvard in the fall; Estaina Resendiz Ortiz will be studying aerospace engineering at UC Davis; Steve Leke, who is the third sibling out of four in his family to come through the Boost program, will be the first Boost student enrolled in the Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (M.E.T.) program at UC Berkeley; and Yenifer Garcia, who is a QuestBridge Scholar, will be attending the University of Pennsylvania.

Overall, as a cohort, they went through the toughest years of high school in a pandemic and all came through with their high school diplomas and bright futures ahead. These students are amazing and all so successful already, and each of them have exciting  futures ahead of them. I am immensely proud of them all.

Group photo of Boost Class of 2022
The Boost@Berkeley Haas 2022 grads celebrate. Photo: Jim Block

What do you love about your job?

So much. Being able to provide a safe, positive, encouraging, and supportive youth mentoring program for the amazing Boost high school students to guide them on their path to a brighter future for themselves and their family through higher education is at the core. But we can’t do this impactful work without an amazing team of staff, volunteers, partners and donors. This spans from our recruiting coordinator Trinity Wilson to our partnership with Destination College Advising Corps (DCAC) and their college advisers (currently that’s Kassy Vang) and the many amazing Haas students (undergraduates, MBA and PhD students) who each year give their valuable time on Saturdays to mentor the Boost students. Lastly, but critically important, are all the donors to support the Boost program.

Boost@BerkeleyHaas is supported by donations. 

Faculty, Graduate Student Instructors honored with 2022 Cheit Awards

Collage of the Cheit Award winners from 2022 commencement
Clockwise from top left: Cheit Award winners Ricardo Perez-Truglia, Panos Patatoukas, Veselina Dinova, Richard Huntsinger, Eric Reiner, Ned Augenblick, Max Auffhammer

Seven faculty members and five Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) were honored at 2022 commencements for excellence in teaching.

Students in each degree program choose faculty each year to receive the Cheit Award, named after Dean Emeritus Earl F. Cheit, who made teaching excellence one of his top priorities.

This year’s winners include:

  • Evening & Weekend MBA program: Max Auffhammer (evening cohort), for Data and Decisions, and Ricardo Perez-Truglia (weekend cohort), for Macroeconomics
  • Full-time MBA program: Associate Professor Ned Augenblick, for Strategic Leadership
  • Undergraduate program: Distinguished Teaching Fellow Richard Huntsinger 
  • PhD program: Accounting Professor Panos Patatoukas 
  • Master of Financial Engineering (MFE): Finance Lecturer Eric Reiner
  • Executive MBA program: Distinguished Teaching Fellow Veselina Dinova
  • Graduate student instructors (GSIs): Paige Wahoff (undergraduate)  Griffin Grail-Binghman (FTMBA), Kimberlyn George (EWMBA), Nicolas Corthorn (MFE), Jonathan Wong (EMBA)