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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

A Century of Commerce

March-April 2008

Harvard Business School (HBS) is throwing a year-long centennial celebration. The anniversary itself falls on April 8, the date in 1908 when the Harvard Corporation approved the new entity. On campus that day, alongside birthday hoopla, faculty members, staff, and students will join in HBS-style case-method discussions on the future of the school, based on a new case study being prepared for the occasion.

The events culminate in a “Global Business Summit” scheduled for October 12-14 on the campus and at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Keynote speakers include Bill Gates ’77, LL.D. ’07, chairman of Microsoft Corporation and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Ziegler professor of business administration and Tisch professor of history Niall Ferguson; President Drew Faust; and Eliot University Professor Lawrence H. Summers, Ph.D. ’82, LL.D. ’07, past president and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

Between the major addresses, there will be dozens of panel discussions and interactive classroom sessions, involving faculty members and alumni from around the world, on topics ranging from agribusiness and energy to asset management, entrepreneurship, and public service. Many of these sessions are based on private conversations and colloquiums that HBS professors have conducted with business leaders in recent months, gathering insights on current practice and theory. Some exercises involve the leaders of other business schools, and are meant to strengthen HBS’s management and leadership education. Although public access to much of this work is limited, the centennial website (www.hbs.edu/centennial) has interactive faculty-led discussions on topics of current interest (for example, innovation), and details on the summit schedule and participants.

Decidedly public is the series of exhibitions mounted by Baker Library from its vast historical collections. The current installment, A “Daring Experiment”: Harvard and Business Education for Women, 1937-1970—a sample of which appears here—is on display through May 16. Internet visitors can tour the materials for this and other shows in the series (www.library.hbs.edu/hc/exhibits/index.html), and, probing deeper, explore digital research links, finding aids to the underlying collections, on-line research materials, and even related bibliographies—a vivid demonstration of the school’s educational technology.

In welcoming alumni to participate in the centennial, dean Jay O. Light emphasized that the planning for all the events “is grounded in the work of our faculty, rooted in the spirit of our classroom—whether in person or virtual—and based on our commitment to ideas with power in practice.”