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B-School Dean Leaves His Mark

By Susan A. Chen

On the first day of his job on January 1, 1980, Dean of the Business School John H. McArthur received two pieces of advice from his predecessor Lawrence E. Fouraker.

News FeatureThe first was to get Harvard's best accountant to keep track of the bills.

The other was to buy lots of umbrellas.

Fouraker told McArthur that his 10-year deanship had taught him that when it rained, visitors would try to prolong the meeting until the rain stopped.

This could be easily prevented simply by stocking up on umbrellas.

To this day, McArthur give umbrellas to people who leave his office when it's raining. along the way, McArthur has taken the Business School through its largest restructuring effort and engineered a pioneering merger between two of the Medical School's teaching hospitals.

McArthur, who announced his retirement this Monday, says 15 years of handing out Business School umbrellas have produced some unusual appearances. In an interview this week, the dean recalls an incident last summer when he flipped to a national TV station broadcasting Pope John Paul II's canonization ceremony.

As the pope stood sweating outdoors, an aide rushed forward and opened an umbrella. Sure enough, it was a red-and-white striped umbrella emblazoned "Harvard Business School."

"[The television coverage] went on for about half an hour--it was great," McArthur says. "Every time the umbrella turned [so that the Business School seal was facing away from the cameral],I kept waiting for them to turn it back."

But saving money and affiliating the Business School with the pontiff isn't all the dean has done. McArthur, arguably Harvard's most powerful figure, leaves behind him a legacy of accomplishments.

Influential Figure

Appointed dean in November of 1979, McArthur was not a new face in the Business School community.

From the day he enrolled in the Business School in the fall of 1957, the native of Burnaby, British Columbia, never left. He joined the faculty shortly after his graduation and rose through the ranks, receiving tenure in 1973.

Ever since he moved into an elegant corner office in 1980, McArthur--a former hand in a Van- couver sawmill--has worked successfully tobecome one of the most influential members of thebusiness elite.

By operating behind the scenes and gettingthings done at warpspeed, McArthur may be the mostpowerful figure at the University, rivaling theauthority of President Neil L. Rudenstine.

In making a rare public pitch for Leadershipand Learning, a revolutionary effort torestructure the Business School's curriculum,McArthur traveled to Yale three years ago andreleased comments from a June 1992 reportsuggesting that the school was facing thepossibility of financial crisis and "flounderingmediocity."

That trip came the day before the release ofRudenstine's 83-page report on the results of theacademic planning process. The president hadlabored over the manuscript himself, andsome--including Boston Globe columnist David L.Warsh '66--suggested that McArthur hadintentionally timed his speech to overshadow thepresident.

The next day, media attention focused on theBusiness School's closed-door faculty meeting toreview a draft of Leadership and Learning, ratherthan on the Rudenstine report.

By far Harvard's wealthiest graduate school,the Business School has also been criticized fornot fully contributing to the University-wide $2.1billion capital campaign, an effort Rudenstine hadhoped to use to link the graduate schools closertogether.

McArthur, however, says he has full confidencein the president's ability to effectively run theUniversity upon his return. But he warns that theHarvard community must be careful.

"He looks a lot better than he did four monthsago, and the rest of us have to understand wecan't make endless demands on the poor bugger,"McArthur says. "When he came here it was likelanding on Normandy beach...it's this poor bastardgetting swept in from Princeton and landing on thebeach and he doesn't know anybody, but I think hecan put it in second gear now."

Initiative to Change

During his term as dean, McArthur has built oneof the most prestigious learning institutions inthe world. Yet he is hardly set in his ways.

"He has a great vision of change," says RichardL. Menschel, who was one of McArthur's classmatesat the Business School.

That made it natural for him to move quickly inthe fall of 1993 to reform the Business School'scurriculum. Business leaders and reports in thenational media, including a cover piece inBusiness Week in the summer of 1993, had claimedthat the school, with its emphasis on oldstandards and the case study method, was fallingbehind the competition.

The result was Leadership and Learning, thelargest and most comprehensive revisions of theMBA program implemented by the Business School todate.

Faculty members say McArthur's foresight anddrive were essential in guiding the Leadership andLearning initiative to its conclusion lastDecember.

"When [McArthur] has something he wants to do,he doesn't let minor or even more substantialobstacles get in his way," says Little Professorof Business Administration Charles J. Christenson."He keeps working on them and very frequentlysomething eventually happens."

But McArthur's influence has extended beyondchanges in the curriculum, faculty say.

"So much has been accomplished," says Professorof Business Administration Leonard Schlesinger."Something like Leadership and Learning wouldusually be the hallmark of someone's tenure, buthere it's only been the last three years."

Professors and administrators say McArthur hasdone a great deal to ensure the school's financialhealth.

The market value of the school's endowment andinvestments increased from $106 million to $600million under McArthur's tenure, according to anHBS fact sheet.

"Everyone thinks the Business School is sorich, but we weren't [before McArthur]," saysProfessor of Business Administration Joseph L.Bower '59. "In economic terms, we have becomemuch, much, much stronger."

Others laud McArthur for improving the physicalappearance of the School.

"[A] major accomplishment was the renovation ofthe campus and inclusion of additional facilitiesthat were very much needed," says Professor ofBusiness Administration Francis J. Aguilar.

During his time as dean, McArthur built ShadHall, the opulent $20 million gymnasium andrecreation center that is not open to Harvardaffiliates. McArthur also helped design theschool's chapel, which was dedicated to him by theBusiness School's class of 1959.

The grounds of the Business School are now"second to none," Schlesinger says.

A Sense of Community

Colleagues praise McArthur for his success increating a diverse but cohesive, strong academiccommunity.

"I think his greatest accomplishment is puttingthe place back together," says a former BusinessSchool administrator who requested anonymity."When he took over, the faculty was somewhatadrift--they felt that their mission wasuncertain, that they were the odd duck out. Johnreminded the faculty what was good about it."

Professors say McArthur did an incredible jobbuilding the faculty.

"[McArthur] considerably strengthened theresearch program at the school...throughsignificant appointments from outside,"Christenson says.

"[McArthur] brought in faculty from otherschools who represent different ways of thinkingabout things," Bower says. "[And] he's done anextraordinary job of bringing together the facultyand helping to get a group of people committed toeach other."

McArthur has also taken great strides inpromoting student diversity. During McArthur'stenure, the percentage of women students in theMBA program rose from 23 to 29 percent. Theminority segment increased from 7 to 18 percent,and the number of international students increasedfrom 18 to 25 percent.

McArthur cites a sense of community at theBusiness School as his biggest contribution.

"I think it's the people...it's the ballgame in[running] an organization," McArthur says. "Thepeople actually work together...most of the time.If that [the people] isn't right, that's a hugefailing. Everything else is fixable."

Linda S. Doyle, associate dean of the BusinessSchool, agrees.

"[McArthur's] biggest contribution is the wayhe built the faculty and community--so many werepromoted and brought in," Doyle says. "He'sabsolutely brilliant at figuring out how to helppeople grow and develop."

McArthur displayed his faith in his faculty inan incident which involved a badge he keeps on hisdesk.

The badge, which has a bullet hole through itand the word "BOSS" written across it, had beengiven to him by another dean when McArthur startedhis job.

According to Doyle, when a senior facultymember picked up the badge and noticed that thebullet hole came from the back, McArthurresponded: "I can tell you that never happened. Inever felt that anyone had done anything like thatto me in this community."

'Enormously Caring'

The faculty's loyalty to McArthur also comesfrom the personal attention he pays to hisfaculty.

"The entire work of his office stops whensomeone has a problem," Schlesinger says. "I'venever seen anything quite like it."

"[McArthur] is just enormously caring in a waythat is quite extraordinary," Bower says. "Hereally does pay attention to individuals."

H. Kent Bowen Barclay, professor of technologyand operations management, says when his sonbecame ill recently, McArthur rushed to thehospital to help.

"My son had an aneurysm last summer and[McArthur] was at the hospital almostimmediately," Bowen says. "He got us the bestdoctors and then continued to keep [them] over thenext month."

Doyle tells of the dean's beneficence when herfather was dying of cancer four years ago.

"He was sick for a year and a half and wheneverhe went into the hospital, McArthur dropped him anote or sent him flowers...[My father's] sicknessoccurred during the transition [between formerpresident Derek C. Bok and President Neil L.Rudenstine] and McArthur got both of them to writehim a letter," Doyle recalls.

"When my father died, [McArthur] was setting upa fellowship in [my father's] name," Doyle says."My dad wasn't a big donor or anything, he was aboiler maker."

McArthur extends personal consideration tostudents as well, Business School professors say.Students praise McArthur for "how direct andaccessible he is as a person," Bower says.

"At 10 o'clock in the morning, you can almostalways find [McArthur] over at Shad talking tostudents, or to someone," Bower says. "He doesn'tsit in his office."

Schlesinger remembers his doctoral studentdays, when McArthur was head of the committeewhich evaluated one of Schlesinger's first oralexams.

"I failed the exam and McArthur wrote tome...to tell me I had [failed]," Schlesingerrecalls. "What he suggested was that instead ofretaking the exam I meet with him once a month.Can you imagine that, you fail an exam and afaculty member invites you to meet with themregularly?"

The head of the degree program forcedSchlesinger to take the exam over anyway, but thecontact with McArthur continued.

Colleagues say McArthur's down-to-earth stylehas helped the dean accomplish his goals.

"He's not a formal guy...He has a very warmengagement with people," Aguilar says. "It makespeople like and respect him very much and put inthe extra effort needed to get things done."

Community Commitments

McArthur's influence spreads beyond BusinessSchool grounds.

As chair of the board of the Brigham andWomen's Hospital, he was instrumental inengineering its merger with Massachusetts GeneralHopital (MGH) in the fall of 1993.

After initial talks between Harvard's fiveteaching hospitals had failed, McArthur wasted notime trying to put a deal together.

Meeting in secret--the way McArthur prefers todo business--MGH and the Brigham struck a deal toform a health care provider known as PartnersHealthCare Inc. Since then, McArthur has becomechair of the partnership.

But McArthur doesn't limit his freneticactivity to Partners HealthCare or the BusinessSchool.

The dean has repeatedly expressed his concernabout the declining state of American publiceducation. That may be why he has become active inthe local community in Allston-Brighton, where heinitiated a series of programs to use the BusinessSchool to help local public schools, includinggranting local students privileges to Shad.

Looking Ahead

McArthur says he has no second thoughts aboutleaving the Business School.

"I feel great...I have planned this for a longtime," McArthur says. "I feel great about theschool, about my friends here...To me it seemedlike a great time to clear out--I mean reallyclear out and not just not do my job."

Although McArthur says he began entertainingthe possibility of retiring this year as early asDecember 1993, he points to two recent events ashaving contributed to his decision to leave assoon as a successor has "settled in."

In a letter to Business School facultydistributed Tuesday, McArthur cites the Januarydeath of former Business School dean George P.Baker and the birth of his granddaughter Katarinaas "important reminders of the chapters in lifethat all of us go through."

"It is time now for another generation to takeon the leadership of the School," he writes.

McArthur says he is certain he will notmaintain a presence at the Business School afterhis retirement.

"New people have to be psychologicallyliberated to do something," McArthur says. "Ifthere was nothing else in the world I might feeldifferent...but all around us there are thingsthat need attention."

Instead, McArthur explains, his role at theBusiness School will be that of "one of the mostenthusiastic fans in the world."

And although some faculty members have namedRobinson Professor of Business AdministrationJames I. Cash and Figgie Professor of BusinessAdministration Kim B. Clarke '74 as possiblecandidates for the next dean, McArthur refuses tospeculate on who his successor might be.

"[There are] several very strong people here atthe school that are outstanding people, butthen...[the search committee] obviously has tolook outside," he says.

Despite his plan to take six months to thinkabout what to do next, McArthur says he doesn'tplan to be idle.

"I don't plan to be resting more. I wish Icould tell you I was," he says. "Ever since I wasa little boy, I've always been doing two or threeor four things at once, and I don't think that'sgoing to change."

Those who know and work with McArthur agree.Timken Professor of Business Administration HugoE. R. Uyterhoeven attributes to the dean a "workethic that would drive most other human beings tothe grave."

McArthur suggests that he would like to getmore involved with public education.

"I see [public education] as a kind of socialcancer," McArthur says. "If I saw a way I couldhelp out I would do it."

McArthur says he also plans to devote more timeto Partners HealthCare.

And until he leaves the Business School,McArthur says, he will continue his work oncurrent projects, including a financial aidprogram for Canadians which aims to equalizeAmerican and Canadian tuition costs.

"I can't walk out in one day--I wish I could.It takes some time...to go through budgets anddeals we have made and the on-going appointmentprocess," McArthur says.

"But it isn't going to be too long, unless thisthing drags on for a year or two--then they'llprobably have to carry me out," he says.Crimson File Photo

By operating behind the scenes and gettingthings done at warpspeed, McArthur may be the mostpowerful figure at the University, rivaling theauthority of President Neil L. Rudenstine.

In making a rare public pitch for Leadershipand Learning, a revolutionary effort torestructure the Business School's curriculum,McArthur traveled to Yale three years ago andreleased comments from a June 1992 reportsuggesting that the school was facing thepossibility of financial crisis and "flounderingmediocity."

That trip came the day before the release ofRudenstine's 83-page report on the results of theacademic planning process. The president hadlabored over the manuscript himself, andsome--including Boston Globe columnist David L.Warsh '66--suggested that McArthur hadintentionally timed his speech to overshadow thepresident.

The next day, media attention focused on theBusiness School's closed-door faculty meeting toreview a draft of Leadership and Learning, ratherthan on the Rudenstine report.

By far Harvard's wealthiest graduate school,the Business School has also been criticized fornot fully contributing to the University-wide $2.1billion capital campaign, an effort Rudenstine hadhoped to use to link the graduate schools closertogether.

McArthur, however, says he has full confidencein the president's ability to effectively run theUniversity upon his return. But he warns that theHarvard community must be careful.

"He looks a lot better than he did four monthsago, and the rest of us have to understand wecan't make endless demands on the poor bugger,"McArthur says. "When he came here it was likelanding on Normandy beach...it's this poor bastardgetting swept in from Princeton and landing on thebeach and he doesn't know anybody, but I think hecan put it in second gear now."

Initiative to Change

During his term as dean, McArthur has built oneof the most prestigious learning institutions inthe world. Yet he is hardly set in his ways.

"He has a great vision of change," says RichardL. Menschel, who was one of McArthur's classmatesat the Business School.

That made it natural for him to move quickly inthe fall of 1993 to reform the Business School'scurriculum. Business leaders and reports in thenational media, including a cover piece inBusiness Week in the summer of 1993, had claimedthat the school, with its emphasis on oldstandards and the case study method, was fallingbehind the competition.

The result was Leadership and Learning, thelargest and most comprehensive revisions of theMBA program implemented by the Business School todate.

Faculty members say McArthur's foresight anddrive were essential in guiding the Leadership andLearning initiative to its conclusion lastDecember.

"When [McArthur] has something he wants to do,he doesn't let minor or even more substantialobstacles get in his way," says Little Professorof Business Administration Charles J. Christenson."He keeps working on them and very frequentlysomething eventually happens."

But McArthur's influence has extended beyondchanges in the curriculum, faculty say.

"So much has been accomplished," says Professorof Business Administration Leonard Schlesinger."Something like Leadership and Learning wouldusually be the hallmark of someone's tenure, buthere it's only been the last three years."

Professors and administrators say McArthur hasdone a great deal to ensure the school's financialhealth.

The market value of the school's endowment andinvestments increased from $106 million to $600million under McArthur's tenure, according to anHBS fact sheet.

"Everyone thinks the Business School is sorich, but we weren't [before McArthur]," saysProfessor of Business Administration Joseph L.Bower '59. "In economic terms, we have becomemuch, much, much stronger."

Others laud McArthur for improving the physicalappearance of the School.

"[A] major accomplishment was the renovation ofthe campus and inclusion of additional facilitiesthat were very much needed," says Professor ofBusiness Administration Francis J. Aguilar.

During his time as dean, McArthur built ShadHall, the opulent $20 million gymnasium andrecreation center that is not open to Harvardaffiliates. McArthur also helped design theschool's chapel, which was dedicated to him by theBusiness School's class of 1959.

The grounds of the Business School are now"second to none," Schlesinger says.

A Sense of Community

Colleagues praise McArthur for his success increating a diverse but cohesive, strong academiccommunity.

"I think his greatest accomplishment is puttingthe place back together," says a former BusinessSchool administrator who requested anonymity."When he took over, the faculty was somewhatadrift--they felt that their mission wasuncertain, that they were the odd duck out. Johnreminded the faculty what was good about it."

Professors say McArthur did an incredible jobbuilding the faculty.

"[McArthur] considerably strengthened theresearch program at the school...throughsignificant appointments from outside,"Christenson says.

"[McArthur] brought in faculty from otherschools who represent different ways of thinkingabout things," Bower says. "[And] he's done anextraordinary job of bringing together the facultyand helping to get a group of people committed toeach other."

McArthur has also taken great strides inpromoting student diversity. During McArthur'stenure, the percentage of women students in theMBA program rose from 23 to 29 percent. Theminority segment increased from 7 to 18 percent,and the number of international students increasedfrom 18 to 25 percent.

McArthur cites a sense of community at theBusiness School as his biggest contribution.

"I think it's the people...it's the ballgame in[running] an organization," McArthur says. "Thepeople actually work together...most of the time.If that [the people] isn't right, that's a hugefailing. Everything else is fixable."

Linda S. Doyle, associate dean of the BusinessSchool, agrees.

"[McArthur's] biggest contribution is the wayhe built the faculty and community--so many werepromoted and brought in," Doyle says. "He'sabsolutely brilliant at figuring out how to helppeople grow and develop."

McArthur displayed his faith in his faculty inan incident which involved a badge he keeps on hisdesk.

The badge, which has a bullet hole through itand the word "BOSS" written across it, had beengiven to him by another dean when McArthur startedhis job.

According to Doyle, when a senior facultymember picked up the badge and noticed that thebullet hole came from the back, McArthurresponded: "I can tell you that never happened. Inever felt that anyone had done anything like thatto me in this community."

'Enormously Caring'

The faculty's loyalty to McArthur also comesfrom the personal attention he pays to hisfaculty.

"The entire work of his office stops whensomeone has a problem," Schlesinger says. "I'venever seen anything quite like it."

"[McArthur] is just enormously caring in a waythat is quite extraordinary," Bower says. "Hereally does pay attention to individuals."

H. Kent Bowen Barclay, professor of technologyand operations management, says when his sonbecame ill recently, McArthur rushed to thehospital to help.

"My son had an aneurysm last summer and[McArthur] was at the hospital almostimmediately," Bowen says. "He got us the bestdoctors and then continued to keep [them] over thenext month."

Doyle tells of the dean's beneficence when herfather was dying of cancer four years ago.

"He was sick for a year and a half and wheneverhe went into the hospital, McArthur dropped him anote or sent him flowers...[My father's] sicknessoccurred during the transition [between formerpresident Derek C. Bok and President Neil L.Rudenstine] and McArthur got both of them to writehim a letter," Doyle recalls.

"When my father died, [McArthur] was setting upa fellowship in [my father's] name," Doyle says."My dad wasn't a big donor or anything, he was aboiler maker."

McArthur extends personal consideration tostudents as well, Business School professors say.Students praise McArthur for "how direct andaccessible he is as a person," Bower says.

"At 10 o'clock in the morning, you can almostalways find [McArthur] over at Shad talking tostudents, or to someone," Bower says. "He doesn'tsit in his office."

Schlesinger remembers his doctoral studentdays, when McArthur was head of the committeewhich evaluated one of Schlesinger's first oralexams.

"I failed the exam and McArthur wrote tome...to tell me I had [failed]," Schlesingerrecalls. "What he suggested was that instead ofretaking the exam I meet with him once a month.Can you imagine that, you fail an exam and afaculty member invites you to meet with themregularly?"

The head of the degree program forcedSchlesinger to take the exam over anyway, but thecontact with McArthur continued.

Colleagues say McArthur's down-to-earth stylehas helped the dean accomplish his goals.

"He's not a formal guy...He has a very warmengagement with people," Aguilar says. "It makespeople like and respect him very much and put inthe extra effort needed to get things done."

Community Commitments

McArthur's influence spreads beyond BusinessSchool grounds.

As chair of the board of the Brigham andWomen's Hospital, he was instrumental inengineering its merger with Massachusetts GeneralHopital (MGH) in the fall of 1993.

After initial talks between Harvard's fiveteaching hospitals had failed, McArthur wasted notime trying to put a deal together.

Meeting in secret--the way McArthur prefers todo business--MGH and the Brigham struck a deal toform a health care provider known as PartnersHealthCare Inc. Since then, McArthur has becomechair of the partnership.

But McArthur doesn't limit his freneticactivity to Partners HealthCare or the BusinessSchool.

The dean has repeatedly expressed his concernabout the declining state of American publiceducation. That may be why he has become active inthe local community in Allston-Brighton, where heinitiated a series of programs to use the BusinessSchool to help local public schools, includinggranting local students privileges to Shad.

Looking Ahead

McArthur says he has no second thoughts aboutleaving the Business School.

"I feel great...I have planned this for a longtime," McArthur says. "I feel great about theschool, about my friends here...To me it seemedlike a great time to clear out--I mean reallyclear out and not just not do my job."

Although McArthur says he began entertainingthe possibility of retiring this year as early asDecember 1993, he points to two recent events ashaving contributed to his decision to leave assoon as a successor has "settled in."

In a letter to Business School facultydistributed Tuesday, McArthur cites the Januarydeath of former Business School dean George P.Baker and the birth of his granddaughter Katarinaas "important reminders of the chapters in lifethat all of us go through."

"It is time now for another generation to takeon the leadership of the School," he writes.

McArthur says he is certain he will notmaintain a presence at the Business School afterhis retirement.

"New people have to be psychologicallyliberated to do something," McArthur says. "Ifthere was nothing else in the world I might feeldifferent...but all around us there are thingsthat need attention."

Instead, McArthur explains, his role at theBusiness School will be that of "one of the mostenthusiastic fans in the world."

And although some faculty members have namedRobinson Professor of Business AdministrationJames I. Cash and Figgie Professor of BusinessAdministration Kim B. Clarke '74 as possiblecandidates for the next dean, McArthur refuses tospeculate on who his successor might be.

"[There are] several very strong people here atthe school that are outstanding people, butthen...[the search committee] obviously has tolook outside," he says.

Despite his plan to take six months to thinkabout what to do next, McArthur says he doesn'tplan to be idle.

"I don't plan to be resting more. I wish Icould tell you I was," he says. "Ever since I wasa little boy, I've always been doing two or threeor four things at once, and I don't think that'sgoing to change."

Those who know and work with McArthur agree.Timken Professor of Business Administration HugoE. R. Uyterhoeven attributes to the dean a "workethic that would drive most other human beings tothe grave."

McArthur suggests that he would like to getmore involved with public education.

"I see [public education] as a kind of socialcancer," McArthur says. "If I saw a way I couldhelp out I would do it."

McArthur says he also plans to devote more timeto Partners HealthCare.

And until he leaves the Business School,McArthur says, he will continue his work oncurrent projects, including a financial aidprogram for Canadians which aims to equalizeAmerican and Canadian tuition costs.

"I can't walk out in one day--I wish I could.It takes some time...to go through budgets anddeals we have made and the on-going appointmentprocess," McArthur says.

"But it isn't going to be too long, unless thisthing drags on for a year or two--then they'llprobably have to carry me out," he says.Crimson File Photo

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