Tata Hall inaugurated at Harvard Business School

Industrialist Ratan Tata’s gift to his alma mater.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Harvard University formally dedicated a hall at the Harvard Business School (HBS) to Indian business tycoon and Harvard alumnus Ratan Tata at a ceremony on December 9.

Tata, who graduated from the Advanced Management Program at HBS in 1975, donated the money to build the new seven-story building, which cost an estimated $100 million. Nitin Nohria, the dean of HBS, said that Tata’s donation was “the most significant gift by an international alumnus” in the history of HBS.

During his speech at the dedication ceremony, Tata spoke about his time at Harvard, and how his relatively short tenure at the university had a lasting impact on him and his career. Tata explained that he was initially uncomfortable at Harvard, and said that he would count down the days until he could leave and “return to the normal world,” but said that ultimately, his experience at the prestigious university was arguably the most important education he ever received.

“Those 13 weeks were the most important time of my life,” said Tata, “in the way they transformed me and increased my perspective.” Tata went on to call HBS “the preeminent place to be exposed to the world’s best thinking on management and leadership,” saying that after graduating, he realized that the magnitude of what he was able to learn at Harvard could never have been reached at any other business school in the world.

Tata Hall is the final of four halls that will make up the HBS Executive Education Quad, along with McArthur, Baker, and Mellon halls. The building is 161,000 square feet large, with two amphitheaters that can seat 99 students. The main atrium is a staggering 37 feet high, and the building features 179 suites.

The architect, William Rawn, explained at the dedication ceremony that the driving reason behind the large glass windows and doors, was to create an open and sharing environment. The building was also designed to be highly energy efficient, with a 50% overall reduction in electrical usage and 40% reduction in greenhouse gases. The building’s design also allows for a 900,000-gallon reduction in water usage per year.

Tata began working for the Tata Group upon graduating from Cornell University in 1962, with a BS in architecture with structural engineering. In 1991, he became the chairman of Tata Industries. He retired from executive responsibilities at Tata on his 75th birthday – December 28th, 2012 – but maintains his emeritus standing. Over the years, he has received honorary doctorate degrees from the Asian Institute of Technology (2004), University of Cambridge (2008), IIT Bombay (2008), and IIT Kharagpur (2008).

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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