Spring/Summer 2008

Business as a Noble Pursuit

Tom Campbell reflects on his five years as dean

Interviewed by CalBusiness Editor Ronna Kelly

After five years as the 13th dean of the Haas School, Tom Campbell stepped down on July 1. During Campbell's five-year appointment, the Haas School expanded substantially and made significant strides toward achieving financial self-sufficiency. The undergraduate program increased its student enrollment by 25 percent, the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program added a second weekend cohort, and the Center for Executive Development dramatically expanded its programs for business executives. Moreover, the school is expanding its faculty and has made faculty salaries competitive to attract and retain the best scholars and teachers. The school also has increased and improved its wide arrange of services for students, alumni, and corporate recruiters.

Campbell will remain on the Haas School faculty until Jan. 1, when he will take a two-year unpaid leave of absence and begin a two-year visiting appointment as the first Presidential Fellow at the Chapman University School of Law in Orange, Calif.

In an interview in his final weeks as dean, Campbell spoke to CalBusiness about his term at Haas.

What is the state of the Haas School as you prepare to step down?

The school is in good shape. We have never been better rated. Our faculty is excellent. Our students are the very best graduating from business schools anywhere. Our finances are in good shape. We could be even more financially independent of the state, but we are more independent than when I took over.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I am very happy that the Wall Street Journal rankings have recognized the students' quality. (Editor's note: The Full-time Berkeley MBA program placed second in the 2007 Wall Street Journal ranking, which is based on a survey of corporate recruiters.) Our students are perceived to be qualified for any job, to have skills without arrogance. That's how employers have described it.

I'm proud that we have a workforce, particularly a staff, that is respected and knows that it is respected.

I'm happy that we doubled the size of the weekend program. The weekend MBAs are hard-working people, fully employed, with family obligations as well, and we've provided to them a service by offering the MBA in the weekend format.

I'm very proud of the achievements of our undergraduates. We have increased the undergraduate population in the Haas School by 25 percent while maintaining the quality. Many of our undergraduates will go on to careers in business and never get an additional degree. So what we provide in our undergraduate education is training for life.

I'm particularly glad for the number of undergraduates that we take from community colleges, a group of very hard-working and deserving young people.

I want to mention one other thing that I'm proud of. In admitting our students, I've never given preference to any candidate other than on their merits and, candidly, I doubt that the dean of very many other top business schools could say that. It doesn't matter who you know or who your parents are; what matters is who you are.

During your deanship, you emphasized the importance of community service. How does community service fit into the context of a business education?

I'm very happy that our students have been consistently engaged in community service. During my time as dean, we established the Haas Community Fellows designation to honor those students who have given of themselves to help others while they are in the business school. We've seen an overall increase in the students that actually do contribute their time to helping out the folks of the community.

One of the areas that I don't claim to be unique, but that I claim to be important to us, is the ethics and social responsibility elements of our business school. I do not say that the private business schools lack this. I just say that we must have this. As a public business school, we must convey the truth that the creation of opportunity is meaningless unless we share the opportunity with others and that adhering to any fundamental ethical standard is not a luxury. It's a necessity.

You've often said, "Business is noble and ennobling." What do you mean by that?

Business is the way to create opportunity. You cannot do good without having resources with which to do good, and those resources are created by business. To provide jobs is to provide opportunity for others. Those jobs come from business. It is a noble pursuit, and those who engage in it are providing opportunity for others, and that's what is ennobling.

What has been your biggest challenge as dean?

Financing, and becoming self-sufficient. We are doing much better in terms of our endowment and our annual fundraising, through the very good efforts of the Development Office. I really want to give them the credit for increasing the annual giving so very much and the endowment, which has reached $194 million.

We are also very proud of the $25 million gift from Barbara and Gerson Bakar, a Haas alum. As a result of their generous gift, we just won approval from the university to increase our faculty to 86 professors - the largest number ever. That increase is very important because we need to make sure that the size of our faculty keeps pace with the growth of our programs.

What challenges lie ahead for the new dean?

We need to continue to raise money from sources other than the state. That job is not finished. The new dean will have to continue that struggle to make the school more financially self-sufficient.

In addition to expanding faculty, the Haas School needs more space. The new dean will have to launch a campaign to raise funds for a new building because the school is bursting at the seams.

You took a one-year leave of absence from your deanship to serve as the state director of finance for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. What was that experience like and did it change your perspective when you returned to Haas as dean?

It was the biggest financial job I've had or am likely to have. The state budget at that time was just over $100 billion, and we balanced it. We didn't rely on borrowing and we did not increase taxes. We showed that it could be done, and the governor deserves the credit for having spent no more than our resources. That's also fair to the next generation - that we won't saddle them with debt.

What I discovered is the fragility of the state budget -- the fact that we were relying on sources of revenue that could go up and down very quickly. I had not realized before then to what degree we were vulnerable to a downturn. That affected the way that I ran the Haas School, so that we didn't take on obligations beyond what we could afford.

While you were state finance director, then-Acting Dean Richard Lyons initiated a new strategy focused on "Leading Through Innovation." What role do you believe that strategy plays at the school?

It comes down to this: Our students should be prepared to be leaders of business enterprises as the enterprises change and innovate. Otherwise, they won't be successful in the world in which they are going to compete.

The Leading Through Innovation strategy builds on the school's commitment to providing world-class management education. But it sharpens the focus by developing leaders who promote and foster an environment where innovation thrives. To achieve that goal, the school is making changes to its curriculum, including the addition of a core leader-ship course for all first-year MBAs. The new program Peers@Haas, the peer coaching program that builds on the leadership course, is valuable in helping students analyze their own leadership potential.

The Leading Through Innovation initiative is being directed now by Adam Berman (executive director of the Institute for Business Innovation) and Steve Tadelis (associate dean for strategic planning), and they are doing a very fine job. We've had great success with Haas@Work, the new program in which students work with top executives of a firm to solve real-world problems. We are expanding that with companies such as SunPower, Disney, and Lam Research. Those are impressive clients.

You also recently traveled with Haas School Professor Teck-Hua Ho to launch the Asia Business Center, and have taught in Africa every year. Why is an international presence important for Haas?

Students must know about Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America because very, very few of them, if any, will work in businesses that are exclusively domestic. If we are going to lead through innovation, we are going to have to be ready to lead in a world of innovation and not simply assume that we can impose tariffs on imported goods and sustain our economy just from within our own borders.

We also have substantially better scholarship if our professors travel overseas, receive foreign visitors, and do research that involves foreign locations. I also think it encourages a broader way of thinking. More than one-third of Berkeley MBA students earned their undergraduate degree overseas. That creates an environment of learning which stretches the mind.

What has been your most memorable travel experience while at Haas?

Teaching in Africa. I'll give you one example that will be with me the rest of my life. I was teaching microeconomics in Eritrea and a student came to my office to better understand a diagram I had shown in class. I took out a piece of paper, drew the diagram, and showed it to him again. He said he understood it now, and I gave him the paper so he could keep it. Then he simply ripped the paper in two, keeping the part on which I had written and handing me back the blank part of the paper. I'll never forget that. It taught me difference between a resource-rich environment and a resource-poor environment.

Before you became dean, you were a US congressman and a state legislator. How did your political experience help you as dean?

Well, most importantly, in my job as a fundraiser. In politics, one must be a fundraiser all the time. I think the number of contacts that I have as dean are greater because I had been in politics. I'm privileged to have superb members of the Haas Board, several of whom joined because I had originally come to know them when I was in politics. One example is Howard Leach, a former US ambassador to France and former UC regent.

Are you going to continue teaching?

I will. I am teaching business law in the Berkeley-Columbia Program until August. I am still a faculty member.

In January, I will take a leave of absence from Haas and begin a two-year visiting appointment at the Chapman School of Law in Southern California. I will be teaching antitrust, legislative process, and a seminar on separation of powers.

In your spare time, you have been known to do an Elvis impersonation on occasion. Do you have any upcoming performances that we should know about?

Well, why don't I just say watch the Vegas strip, and I'll leave it at that.

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Tom Campbell

"You cannot do good without having resources with which to do good, and those resources are created by business."
- Dean Tom Campbell