In 1919 President Lowell asked Wallace B. Donham--then a prominent Boston banker--to give up his financial career and come to Cambridge as dean of the almost non-existent Harvard School of Business Administration. Lowell promised his support during its rebuilding so Donham agreed. He took charge that fall.
One of his first appointments was that of Donald K. David as his assistant dean. Since then, over 35 years in varying capacities, these two men have seen the school grow from three basements in the Yard to what President Conant has called "a great educational enterprise."
Last week Donham died at the age of 77 and David, who succeeded him as dean in 1942, announced he will retire from office this summer.
David's announcement follows by a month the completion of his "Twenty Million Dollar Effort" to stabilize and consolidate the school. The drive was climaxed when the Ford Foundation gave $2,000,000 for expanded teacher training, busines research, and two professorships. The grant put the school on its most solid financial foundation in nearly 25 years and rounded out the Dean's ambitious plans for reorienting the curriculum and school's objective to post-war business conditions. "I think this is a good time for a young and vigorous leader to take over," he said.
In one sense the coincidence of Donham's death and David's retirement marks the end of an era in the school's history. But in another it illustrates the forward momentum these two men have given the school. Like the distinguished Professor Melvin T. Copeland, many feel that "as long as the school is an alive institution it will never come to the end of an era." Instead, they foresee a period of consolidation when the curriculum and research programs will mature.
This present healthy condition is unusual for the 46-year old school, particularly during the transition of deans. When Donham took charge in 1919 he faced the job of creating a business school from a handful of students and two professors. And when David assumed its leadership at the start of World War II, he had to keep the faculty intact and then undertake major academic and financial programs for postwar adjustment.
Over their combined administrations, the school has modestly refrained from boasting of its achievements. But there are few people today who will hesitate to grant it first place in its field. A fitting tribute comes from the Dean of the Bernard M. Baruch School of Business and Public Administration at C.C.N.Y. Dean Thomas L. Norton writes:
"For nearly half a century the Harvard School of Business Administration has held a commanding place in the field of collegiate education for business. It's influence has been tremendous and its leadership has left an impact on higher education."
Norton, who is President of the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business, includes among its unique contributions the case method, encouragement of human relations in business teaching, the Advanced Management Program, Trade Union Program, and of course, its graduates who have given the school an "enviable record."
These are the legacies which David leaves the new administration. He also leaves a strong faculty which is convinced that a vaste job lies ahead. As associate Dean Stanley F. Teele puts the school's future, "our view is that our great progress under Dean David only reveals the distance we have to go."
Reviewing the 35 years Donham and David have devoted separately and together to building the school, this progress appears considerable.
In 1919, when Donham became dean, neither a strong faculty nor a leadership tradition existed. In fact, the school itself hardly existed. Scattered in every nook and cranny of the University, it had no money, a skeleton faculty, an inadequate curriculum, and an unrealistic approach to business education.
Donham's assistant David watched the 42-year old banker set about what Professor Georges F. Doriot calls "the courageous job of taking us out of three basements and making us into a school."
The job took eight years. Donham relied on his lawyer's training for approaching the teaching of business. He saw a future in case instruction used infrequently since the school's founding in 1908. Under his impetus a centralized Bureau of Research began collecting these cases on a largescale.
Lectures were abandoned and these cases soon became the basis of instruction. Ever since they have been the foundation of the school's teaching. Today Baker Library holds over 21,000 cases. Every student studies about 1,000 during his two year MBA program. And they are copied in over 200 schools in this country
Gradually the case method swung the teaching of the faculty away from the broad view of the economist to that of the single businessman acting within the economy. The faculty continues to teach along these lines today.
Donham next urged the adoption of a first year compulsory program which de-emphasized the traditional topical approach with courses like lumbering and printing. Instead, he and the faculty favored the more general functional approach in finance and production courses. This framework remains essentially intact today.
In 1919, Donham called the present condition of the school "intolerable except as a temporary makeshift." "We need funds at once for construction of buildings to house a school of 1,000 and develope laboratory facilities."
Four years after this appeal, a financial drive got underway. For Donham its success was an indication of business's interest in educating future business leaders. Within a month George F. Baker, chairman of the First National Bank of New York, gave the University $5,000,000 toward new buildings.
Twenty-five years later the business community exhibited similar confidence in the school when John D. Rockefeller, Jr., gave $5,000,000 toward Dean David's "Twenty Million Dollar Effort."
Baker's gift enabled the school to collect its scattered bookshelves into a single library, to own its own classrooms and buildings, and to call itself an independent school.
In 1926 Donham brought D. Elton Mayo, a young Australian psychologist, to the school for experimentation in the untried field of human relations. Mayo's pioneering work led eventually to post-war changes in the school's curriculum. Today human relations is a significant topic on the business school campus. It is already the basis of two new post-war courses and is likely to influence the school's curriculum still further.
Another post-war curriculum change goes back to the summer of 1928 when Donham conducted a trial seminar for top-flight business executives to educate them in their community responsibilities.
Out of this project grew today's nationally famous Advance Management program, a week intensive seminar offered to 150 mature executives ranging in age from 35 to 45. It provided the framework for teaching to society and business. Since World War II over 1,000 have participated.
Last year the school also initiated a Middle Management Program for prospective executives aged 25 to 35 who take a 16-month condensed version of the regular MBA program.
David in 1942
No major policy changes occured from then until his retirement in 1942.
That year he left office but not the school. As the George F. Baker professor of Business Administration he urged the faculty to weigh carefully Mayo's findings in human relations. He himself taught such a course in the College.
The United States was at war the year David accepted Conant's to become the school's third dean. He returned to the school he had left in 1927. With him he brought 15 years of bread business experience. He know intimately government officials and top management.
David spent his first years keeping the faculty intact and training over 12,000 officers at the school for war service. Regular graduate instruction was suspended from 1943 until 1946.
Out of this period of academic inactivity came major revisions in the curriculum and plans for expansion. "He challenged us to rethink the fundamental objectives of this school," Professor Edmund P. Learned explained. This rethinking led to three new courses and a closer integration of the first year program:
Administrative Practices (compulsory in the first year), which grew out of Mayo's human relation's work. Its theme was that business is a living organism, not just a machine for profits.
--Human Relations (second year problems between people.
--Business Responsibility in the American Society (first year), a "Big Picture" course designed to instill future executives with an understanding of their obligations to the community.
The faculty also stepped up the Doctoral program. Begun by Donham on a small scale in the late 1920s, this advance training for teaching administration and research has expanded greatly. In his final report in 1942 Donham wrote that the building of such a program would "represent the real maturing of this young school."
The final curriculum expansion was the new Trade Union Program, which, like the Advance Management, Program offers thirteen weeks of training to union officers for administrative responsibilities.
All this growth put heavy strain on the school's budget. Accordingly, in 1948 David began his effort to raise endowment and working capital for increased salaries, research, and plant improvements.
Out of Rockefeller's gift and an equal amount David raised within a year, the school constructed two new buildings: Aldrich Hall, a classroom structure designed for ease instruction, and Kresge a student center. These were the first additions to the plant since the school moved across the Charles in 1927.
They are the tangible evidence of