The New Dean Shaking Up Berkeley's B-School

Can Campbell take the MBA program mainstream?

Tom Campbell may have been a mild-mannered congressman from Silicon Valley, but he never shied away from controversy. For one thing, the Republican moderate was elected five times from the San Francisco Bay area, a Democratic stronghold. And although he was a lifelong Republican, he frequently took stands that veered far from the party line. As the ranking member of the House International Relations Committee, for example, he bucked party leaderships when he led the charge against U.S. involvement in Kosovo. And he alienated colleagues when he pushed to lift sanctions against Iraq, citing the impact on its citizens.

Now, the former legislator is launching a new against-the-tide crusade as he prepares to take over as dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley in mid-August. Campbell replaces Laura D'Andrea Tyson, who left to be dean at London Business School (she's also a BusinessWeek columnist).

Even before he is officially installed, Campbell is challenging the B-school's very identity, planning to shift the emphasis away from its specialty--entrepreneurship--and push for a more mainstream MBA program. "The curriculum is no longer appropriate," says Campbell, 49. "Haas has focused strongly on entrepreneurship, and now its graduates and alumni don't have the same opportunities as graduates of other schools."

Those could be fighting words at a school that practically invented the business incubator. At the least, it's a stark departure from the hallmark Haas focus on innovation. Says Tyson: "I don't think [the entrepreneurial offerings] are in conflict with an education that emphasizes business basics."

Campbell is part of a boomlet of deans who come from outside academia. They're often chosen for their real-world experience in business or politics, which in turn helps draw needed funds to the halls of ivy. Douglas T. Breeden, dean of Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, ran an investment firm. Robert J. Joss is dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business, while Bruce G. Willison has led the University of California at Los Angeles' Anderson School of Business since 1999. Both were bank executives before becoming deans. Campbell, however, is "a blend: He's got political experience, external connections, as well as academic values," says Edward A. Snyder, dean of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Persuading donors to open their wallets for poorly funded Haas was one thing the search committee had in mind in choosing Campbell. After all, he raised more than $23 million for his various political campaigns. Says Aurin Sarin, a 1978 Haas grad and a member of the search team: "We wanted someone [with] established relationships in the Bay Area, someone who could paint a vision of where we want to go...and then to marshal people to that place."

Bringing money in is especially urgent these days, as state allocations for public universities are being slashed. Campbell vows he'll try to persuade the state legislature to raise tuition--even though other deans have tried and failed. Out-of-state students now pay $22,000 a year, in-state rates are $11,700, and every student is eligible for California residency after one year of a two-year MBA program. By contrast, other top schools charge more. At University of Michigan B-school, resident tuition is $27,600.

Campbell has already won a few early battles. He got a green light to increase the faculty size from 65 members to 90. And he's raising pay, currently some 25% below typical salaries elsewhere.

Still, Campbell's main focus for Haas will be to bring a bit of his own public service mentality to campus. After Watergate, law schools worked ethics into the curriculum and the bar exam, and Campbell believes it's a similar watershed moment for business education. In the face of today's corporate scandals, teaching ethics is no less than an obligation, he says. Grads need to learn that "there's something more important than tempting the ethical breach, because [these days], why should an investor trust an American corporation?" It's a stressful time, but Campbell doesn't scare easily.

By Jennifer Merritt in New York

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