SOM anticipates sizable donation

Fundraising across the University has ground to a near halt, but officials at the Yale School of Management are hoping to leapfrog those troubles with a single gift.

Yale is hoping that one donor will commit as much as $100 million to SOM. A gift of that magnitude, SOM officials say, would save the construction of its new building from delay. . And while the donor would likely be recognized through the name of the new Norman Foster-designed complex, the name of the school itself is not for sale.

Construction of the new building could still proceed on schedule.
Courtesy ofFoster+Partners
Construction of the new building could still proceed on schedule.

The construction of the school’s 246,000-square-foot complex is expected to cost around $180 to $200 million. The exact opening date of the new campus is unknown, but the facility was originally slated to open in the fall of 2012. Precipitous declines in the University’s endowment since June 2008 have made that timetable unrealistic, as University administrators strive to close budget gaps by postponing major capital projects. Shauna King, the University’s Vice President for Finance and Business Operations, announced Monday that construction would likely begin in 2012.

“We’re still optimistic that we’re going to be able to go forward with the project and not have a full two-year delay,” said Stanley Garstka, deputy dean of the School of Management.

Garstka acknowledged that he is optimistic in large part because the school is confident it can attract what would be one of the largest gifts ever made to Yale. University Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said in an interview last week that while overall giving to Yale is down this year, she remains in conversation with some of Yale’s most generous donors about opportunities.

“We are very pleased about some of the conversations about gifts that are going on,” Reichenbach said. “People haven’t started giving quite yet, but we’re having good conversations.”

Up to now, SOM has been a strong point in University fundraising. Last fall, when former SOM Dean Joel Podolny announced his resignation, University President Richard Levin said Podolny had helped raise over $170 million for SOM’s $300-million capital campaign, though that number has likely increased since the fall. Garstka said about $100 million of already-secured funding is specifically pledged for the new building, with the remainder earmarked for other functions within SOM.

Levin added in a recent interview that much support for Yale’s relatively young business school has come from graduates of Yale College. He said any large gift would likely come from such a donor.

Because the design for the new campus is not expected to be completed until June 2010, Garstka said, school officials have plenty of time to find a large enough donor to keep the project moving on schedule.

Offering a donor the chance to add his or her name to the school’s might make raising the money easier. The University of Chicago renamed its business school the Booth School of Business in 2008 after entrepreneur and alumnus David Booth donated $300 million to the school. Indeed, of top business schools, only Stanford, Harvard, Columbia and Yale have business schools without secondary titles.

Yale officials said they will not follow suit. Naming the building is enough, they say; besides, the value of having Yale’s name attached to SOM is incalculable.

That said, the precedent for such naming is extensive: The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania bears its name in honor of Joseph Wharton, an iron manufacturer who donated $100,000 for the school’s founding in 1881.

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