$10 Million Gift to Business School To Support Second-Year MBA Curriculum Innovation

Donation from family of late Boston business leader establishes fund

A $10 million gift to Harvard Business School will launch a new curriculum innovation program focused on second-year MBA courses, the School announced Monday.

The benefactors are the family of the late Boston business leader William F. Connell, and their gift, which establishes the Margot and William F. Connell Family MBA Program Innovation Fund, honors Connell’s 50th reunion from the Business School.

“This new donation from the Connells provides us with the financial support we need to enhance our second-year curriculum and make it a deeper, more cohesive, and more innovative experience that will have a lifelong impact on students,” Business School Dean Nitin Nohria said in a press release posted on the School’s website.

Following its review of its first-year courses over the past several years, the Business School faculty will use the newly created fund to redesign the MBA program’s second-year curriculum, according to the School’s website. Those changes will include more integration between the program’s first two years, as well as “an expanded array of learning opportunities” and “more engagement in practice.” The program’s second-year redesign is expected to take around three years to plan and put into practice.

Nohria noted that the Connell family’s gift is only its latest donation to the Business School and follows a 2003 gift that launched the School’s Leadership Initiative.

Connell, who died in 2001, received the Business School’s Alumni Achievement Award earlier that year, topping off a career that included the creation of the Connell Limited Partnership and its growth into one of the largest privately owned industrial equipment companies in the world.

In addition to Connell himself, two of his six children are Business School alumni, including one who graduated this past May.

The Connell family’s philanthropic interests have not been limited to Harvard, as they have also supported institutions such as Massachusetts General Hospital, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Boston College, where Connell received his undergraduate degree.

“We are very grateful for the generosity and support of [Connell’s widow] Margot and the entire Connell family,” Nohria said. “They are a remarkable success story, all of them eager to add value to the community and give back to society.”

Monday’s announcement of the Connell family’s donation comes just a few months before the public launch of Harvard’s ambitious University-wide capital campaign, which is widely expected to reach for a goal of more than $6 billion—a sum that would likely make it the largest fundraising drive ever run by an institution of higher education.

—Staff writer Samuel Y. Weinstock can be reached at sweinstock@college.harvard.edu. Follow him on Twitter @syweinstock.

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