David Booth speaks at the Nov. 7 ceremony about the "gift that was intended to take away excuses" (according to Dean Sunil Kumar).
The anticipation in the air was palpable, the sum was unprecedented and the name was perfect. When news first broke at The Chicago Graduate School of Business that David Booth had made a $300 million donation to the program, the faculty were thrilled. David Booth was near and dear to the community and "truly embodied the values of the Chicago name," said Deputy Dean Stacey Kole.
The celebration of the five year anniversary of this magnanimous gift in the Winter Garden on Nov. 7 provided an opportunity to reflect and take stock of how the Booth story began and where it's going.
The story of the endowment traces back to Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance Eugene Fama. David Booth, a former PhD student of Eugene Fama, asked Fama to join the board of his newly founded company Dimensional Fund Advisors in 1981. Over the years their friendship grew, and the company, based on research that allowed investors access to varying risk profiles, including those provided by small stocks, flourished. When David decided to donate to the GSB, he was clear about the endowments' objectives – to maintain a commitment to outstanding research and support, and retain the preeminent faculty.
While the details of the gift are private, the donation, which is conservatively valued at $300 million, gives the program a fraction of the firm's distribution every year. Receiving this gift in 2008 was particularly helpful not only because of the difficult economic climate but also because at the time, at Booth, 65 cents of every dollar came from tuition. For most competing business schools that number was half of that amount. Today, only 52 cents of every dollar comes from tuition, giving the program a lot of freedom.
So what have we accomplished with this financial liberty? The program has continued to retain and hire outstanding faculty. It has grown its support for alumni and allocated funds for scholarships to assist its most talented students.
One prominent development that merits mention is the art at the Harper Center. David's wife, Suzanne, who played an integral role working with the art committee, believes that school is where great ideas and discourse begins. Art stimulates and enriches the learning environment, which is why today the art collection at Booth is unprecedented and rivals that found in the some of the best museums.
Moving forward, one aspect Booth continues to work on is developing and growing the Booth brand. While Booth has been more successful than some recently renamed business schools in its rebranding efforts, there is still room for growth internationally. This is where we as current students and alumni, the ambassadors of this brand, step in. Our success, our support for our community and our efforts to encourage the best and the brightest to follow us, will represent the future of Booth.