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Harvard Business School Will Rename Building after James Cash, School’s First Tenured Black Professor

Harvard Business School will rename a building after James I. Cash, the school's first Black tenured professor.
Harvard Business School will rename a building after James I. Cash, the school's first Black tenured professor. By Robbie H Edwards
By Ellen M. Burstein, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Business School will rename a building after James I. Cash, the school’s first Black tenured professor, Business School Dean Nitin Nohria told faculty, staff, and students in a virtual town hall Tuesday.

The building was formerly called Glass House — a moniker honoring Carter Glass, a former U.S. Treasury Secretary who promoted racist voting policies. It will now be known as “Cash House.”

Cash served as a member of the Business School faculty from 1976 to 2003 and received tenure in 1985. As a professor, he taught a variety of subjects in the MBA Program and the Executive Education program, including the Program for Management Development, the Program for Global Leadership, and the Advanced Management Program.

Nohria credited Cash as a leader in the fight for racial equity at HBS.

“Not only has he transcended many racial barriers in his own life, he also has propelled generations of Black students, faculty, and staff, as well as scores of business leaders, to successful and meaningful lives and careers,” Nohria said.

The Business School has long come under fire for a lack of Black representation in its student body and faculty. Last week, Nohria announced an action plan for racial equity at the school, including an initiative to recruit more Black professors and faculty.

Nohria wrote in the message to Business School affiliates that the renaming “rectifies a wrong.”

“We therefore cannot allow the Glass name to remain at the School, even while we recognize and cannot forget that it has been a fact of our history for 75 years,” Nohria wrote. “It is important that members of our community see themselves in our spaces and take pride in those whose names define our physical landscape. Cash House will reflect our deepest belief that leaders are individuals of not just great competence, but also outstanding and impeccable character.”

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Cash served on the boards of a number of corporations, including Walmart, General Electric, and the Microsoft Corporation. Nohria praised his “extraordinary mentorship and friendship” in a message to Business School affiliates Tuesday.

“In addition to his extraordinary intellect and accomplishments, he is a man whose humility and genuine warmth make him beloved by all who know him. Indeed, he once defined power and influence as 'the ability to make things happen without people knowing that you are responsible.' This is how he leads his life, and he honors the School in allowing us to recognize him in this way,” Nohria wrote.

—Staff writer Ellen M. Burstein can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ellenburstein.

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