Exactly 125 years after Cora Jane Flood announced the gift that launched UC Berkeley’s College of Commerce, Haas students and staff packed the school’s sunny courtyard to celebrate this milestone.
Haas is not only the second-oldest business school in the country and the first at a public university. “Haas is the only leading business school to be founded by a woman, Cora Jane Flood, who was known as Jennie,” said Professor and Acting Dean Don Moore. “Haas is also the first top business school to be led by two women deans—Laura Tyson and Ann Harrison.”
Dean Ann Harrison unveiled a new plaque honoring Flood. “Now, students, staff, faculty, alumni, and visitors can learn her name and be inspired by her far-sighted philanthropy,” said Harrison, who is on sabbatical this fall but returned for the event.
Flood, the daughter of silver baron James Clair Flood, gave a gift of securities and real estate with an estimated value of $463,133.39, constituting the largest private gift received by the then-30-year-old university. According to the book “Business at Berkeley: The History of the Haas School of Business” by Sandra Epstein, “By 2013, the gift’s value had grown to over $25 million, comprising one of the largest endowments on the Berkeley campus.”
The courtyard event was part of an ongoing celebration this fall of Haas’s 125th anniversary. See photo highlights and check out the video and transcript below, and read more about how Haas has been reimagining business for more than a century in a special issue of Berkeley Haas magazine.
Full event event video:
Erika Walker, Senior Assistant Dean for Instruction
Good afternoon. I am Erika Walker, Senior Assistant Dean for Instruction at Berkeley Haas.
As we gather for today’s ceremony, we want to acknowledge that UC Berkeley sits on the territory of xučyun, the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo speaking Ohlone people, the successors of the sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and other familial descendants of the Verona Band.
We recognize that every member of the Berkeley community has benefitted, and continues to benefit, from the use and occupation of this land since the institution’s founding in 1868. Consistent with our values of community, inclusion and diversity, we have a responsibility to acknowledge and make visible the university’s relationship to Native peoples. As members of the Berkeley community, it is vitally important that we not only recognize the history of the land on which we stand, but also, we recognize that the Muwekma Ohlone people are alive and flourishing members of the Berkeley and broader Bay Area communities today.
I would now like to welcome Professor and Acting Dean Don Moore to the podium.
Professor Don Moore, Acting Dean and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Thank you, Erika. And welcome, everyone! Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon. What an honor it is to serve as the acting dean of this exceptional business school while Dean Harrison is on sabbatical. I hope you are all having a great start to the semester so far.
This year, we look back on 125 years of reimagining business at Haas, all the way to 1898, the year of our founding as the second-oldest business school in the United States.
In 1898, we might have been listening to “The Entertainer” on our gramophones, watching the short film The Astronomer’s Dream on the kinetoscope, or trying on a new bowler hat. California had recently transitioned from Mexico to the United States. Berkeley had a population of 5,000. The bicycling craze was giving women a new avenue of independence. That year, the Golden Bears beat Stanford at the Big Game, 22-0!!
This was also a pivotal time for business, which was coming into its own as a profession on par with law and medicine. Smart management was sorely needed in an era of wild economic growth, robber barons and corruption, fortunes made and lost in immense new enterprises. These new businesses needed to make sense of thousands of employees, strategic mergers, and ballooning divisions.
This was also a pivotal time for business, which was coming into its own as a profession on par with law and medicine. Smart management was sorely needed in an era of wild economic growth, robber barons and corruption, fortunes made and lost in immense new enterprises. These new businesses needed to make sense of thousands of employees, strategic mergers, and ballooning divisions. —Don Moore
Where better than a great university in the pioneering West to order and transform the way we worked? Good sense was not enough; mass scale was a necessity; and only the skilled and sophisticated would thrive. Learning the systems and theories of professional management was a logical—and necessary—next step. A new institution would need to draw scholars from the rest of the world to Berkeley, and produce brilliant minds of its own.
And so it did. The College of Commerce, which we now know as Haas, was founded with just three students. Now we have over 2,500 students in six programs, more than 300 ladder and professional faculty members, and more than 43,000 alumni in 81 countries around the world.
We are also the first business school founded at a public university. Haas is the only leading business school to be founded by a woman, Cora Jane Flood, who was known as Jennie. Haas is the first top business school to be led by two women deans—Laura Tyson and Ann Harrison, respectively.
And we are the first school built entirely with private donations on the UC Berkeley campus. We are incredibly grateful to all of the donors who have supported our school.
Of course, the Berkeley Haas legacy includes more than a century of stellar researchers and teachers, including two Nobel laureates. We are fortunate to be able to attract exceptional staff. And we are more than the sum of our parts. My colleague and fellow acting dean Jenny Chatman will say more about what really makes us exceptional.
Professor Jennifer Chatman, Acting Dean and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Thank you so much, Don. I am honored to be serving the school with you this fall.
As a scholar of culture, I want to note that Berkeley Haas stands out in yet another way: in being the preeminent mission-driven business school, as Poets & Quants has described us.
The Haas School’s values stretch back a long way. The man for whom our school is named, Walter A. Haas, Sr., graduated from the College of Commerce in 1910. He held forward-looking views on social welfare and public affairs that were influenced by the school’s first woman instructor, Jessica Peixotto. That influence led him to grow Levi Strauss & Co. into one of the country’s largest socially responsible businesses.
All of these priorities grew into our four Defining Leadership Principles, which I know you know well: Question the Status Quo; Confidence Without Attitude; Students Always; and Beyond Yourself. To put these principles into action in our three core areas: innovation and entrepreneurship, sustainability, and inclusion.
Of course, they are all inextricably linked. Berkeley Haas boasts a world-class team for diversity, inclusion, justice, and belonging. The school has built and continues to build remarkable access, while simultaneously equipping all of us to be more inclusive leaders. Sustainability and entrepreneurship are always top of mind at Haas. And thanks to our location in Berkeley—the epicenter of innovation—we have been and continue to be the heart of what’s next.
Finally, I am so pleased that several members of the chancellor’s cabinet are joining us today. Berkeley Haas’ deep ties with Cal are precious, and we don’t take them for granted.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Ben Hermalin has a special connection to Berkeley. He has held a significant number of roles at Haas: as professor, associate dean, interim dean, and winner of multiple teaching awards. Ben, thank you for being with us today.
Ben Hermalin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Berkeley:
Thank you, Jenny!
It is true that Berkeley Haas is dear to my heart. But it is also a treasured and essential star in the Cal constellation. This is a vibrant, visionary school that provides students, faculty, staff, and alumni much of the meaning that I believe gives us purpose as individuals and as institutions. One way the school does that is by attracting award-winning scholars, who illuminate their classrooms and advance the world’s knowledge. Berkeley Haas strives to teach and shape business in ways that are valuable to a broad spectrum of people, in profound and material ways. We try to go beyond in deed and not just in word. We always have a lot more work to do—to be as inclusive and just; bold and confident; smart and ethical as we can. That is the best way for us all to stay true to those who built this institution and to our counterparts in the future. Congratulations on this momentous anniversary!
Thank you, Ben.
This occasion is so special to the Berkeley Haas community that Dean Ann Harrison has returned today (from her sabbatical this fall) to share it with us. Ann, please join me onstage.
Dean Ann Harrison:
Thank you so much, Don! What a beautiful day, as it so often is in Berkeley. I am thrilled to be here with you all. I do feel as though I am reaching across more than a century and saying thank you to Cora Jane “Jennie” Flood. I am grateful for her confidence, generosity, and foresight, and believe she would have found today to be a powerful testament to her intention. We are so fortunate that there are Flood family members here with us today celebrating this occasion.
In her declaration to the Regents of the University of California on September 13th, 1898, Jennie Flood wrote of her bestowal that it “shall be devoted to some branch of commercial education.” The bold idea to create a College of Commerce had been proposed by Berkeley graduate and entrepreneur Arthur Rodgers in 1883. Jennie Flood turned Rodgers’s vision into reality.
125 years of groundbreaking education is a remarkable achievement for any business school, especially given the immense changes the world has undergone. Having reimagined business, we are well positioned to lead in a world of change. We look back with pride, but we move forward to make an impact for future generations. Keeping our eye on innovation and entrepreneurship, sustainability, and inclusion is more important than ever.
It is high time that we make Jennie Flood a permanent part of our campus. I am honored to unveil this plaque, which commemorates our founder and allows us to put a name—and a face—to the origins of Berkeley Haas. Now, students, staff, faculty, alumni, and visitors can learn her name and be inspired by her far-sighted philanthropy. Her father, James Clair Flood, was the son of immigrants who took an eighth-grade education and an entrepreneurial spirit to become one of the “Silver Kings” of Gilded Age San Francisco and a UC Regent. Jennie often accompanied him to his business meetings, and I would go so far as to say she was an informal student of business herself!
And now, we’ll reveal our new plaque in her honor.
What a beautiful addition to our campus and to our continuing story. Berkeley Haas has staying power. We’re not going anywhere—we’re just getting better.
Please come over during the reception and check it out!
Thank you so much, Ann. To tie together the whole web of Haas-tory from our esteemed founder to our current dean, I am happy to report that former dean Rich Lyons is here with us to celebrate. He is such an important part of our legacy, both philosophically and musically. To that end, he has brought his guitar to send us out snapping our fingers. Take it away, Rich!
Rich Lyons, Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
(Lyons performs a special Haas-themed version of “The Bare Necessities,” singing and playing acoustic guitar.)
A perfect note to end on. Thank you so much to everyone for joining us today. Please enjoy some refreshments and bask in this beautiful day and community. Here’s to the world-changing 125 years behind us, and to all the triumphs ahead.