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Tatas' $50-million gift to Harvard, largest from an international donor

Last updated on: October 15, 2010 11:16 IST

Tatas' $50-million gift to Harvard, largest from an international donor

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC


In the largest ever gift from an international donor in Harvard Business School's 102-year-old history, Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, announced a $50 million gift to fund a new academic and residential building on the HBS campus in Boston.

Tata made the gift on behalf of the Tata Companies, the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, and the Tata Education and Development Trust, the philanthropic entities of the Tata Group.

Harvard Business School hopes to break ground for the new building, which will be named Tata Hall, next spring.

The gift was announced at a press conference convened by Nitin Nohria, Dean of HBS, flanked by Tata and Boston Mayor Thomas M Menino.

The Tata Group, a conglomerate founded in 1868, owns 28 publicly listed enterprises across seven business sectors that have a combined market capitalisation of $80 billion.

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Image: Ratan Tata and Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria.
Photographs: Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard University
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Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons Ltd since 1991, attended the school's advanced management program -- one of three comprehensive leadership programs offered by HBS Executive Education -- in 1975.

He received the School's highest honour, the Alumni Achievement Award, in 1995.

Tata, said, "The Harvard Business School is the pre-eminent place to be exposed to the world's best thinking on management and leadership, and we are pleased that this gift will support the School's educational mission to mould the next generation of global business leaders."

The president of Harvard University, Drew Gilpin Faust said, "Ratan Tata knows firsthand the transformative educational opportunities offered through Harvard Business School's executive education programmes. Thanks to this generous gift, HBS will be able to expand its already robust offerings in executive education, deepening ties with leaders across the country and around the globe."

Nohria, in expressing deep appreciation for the Tata Group's extraordinary generosity, said,  "This is an historic gift from a renowned organisation revered for its significant economic, civic, and philanthropic impact."

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Image: Ratan Tata, HBS Dean Nitin Nohria, and Harvard University president Drew Faust at HBS.
Photographs: Susan Young
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"The Tata Group is widely respected for integrity and innovation, not just in India -- where it produced both the first indigenous car and the $2,000 Tata Nano automobile -- but in a variety of business lines across several continents, from cars to hotels and from tea to information technology," Nohria added.

Menino, predicted that Tata's generosity would have a global impact. "Mr Tata's gift will create jobs right here in Boston, and the executives who study at HBS will go out into the world as ambassadors of our truly world-class city."

In 1945, Harvard Business School launched the Advanced Management Program, the world's first Executive Education program.  Today, more than 9,000 business leaders from around the world enroll in executive education programmes at HBS as well as in off-campus locations each year, participating in a wide range of comprehensive, focused, and custom programmes.

Currently, more than 50 per cent of participants hail from outside the United States and enrol in more than 75 open enrolment Executive Education programmes and more than 60 custom programmes.

Ratan Tata was named one of the 30 most respected CEOs in the world by Barron's magazine in 2007, the same year the Tata Group was awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. In 2008 he was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People.

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Image: Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Reuters
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He has received numerous honorary degrees as well as one of the government of India's highest civilian awards, the Padma Vibhushan.

Tata earned a BS degree in architecture from Cornell University in 1962. He worked briefly with the firm of Jones and Emmons in Los Angeles before returning to India in late 1962 to join the Tata Group.

After serving in various companies, he was appointed director-in-charge of The National Radio and Electronics Company in 1971.

In 1981 he was named chairman of Tata Industries, and in 1991 he was named chairman of Tata Sons, the promoter company of the Tata Group. During his tenure, the group's revenues have grown nearly twelve-fold.

HBS, founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 200 offers full-time programmes leading to the MBA and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 75 open enrolment executive education programmes and more than 60 custom programmes.

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Image: Ratan Tata, Drew Faust, and Nitin Nohria at Harvard Business School.
Photographs: Courtesy, Harvard Business School
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For more than a century, HBS faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organisations worldwide, and their passion for teaching to educate leaders who have shaped the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.

The Tata Group operates in seven business sectors: communications and information technology, engineering, materials, services, energy, consumer products, and chemicals. They are, by and large, based in India and have significant international operations.

The total revenue of Tata companies, taken together, was $67.4 billion (around Rs 319,534 crores) in 2009-10, with 57 per cent of this coming from business outside India.

Tata companies employ around 395,000 people worldwide. The Tata name is synonymous in India for 140 years for its adherence to strong values and business ethics. Every Tata company or enterprise operates independently.

Each of these companies has its own board of directors and shareholders, to whom it is answerable. There are 28 publicly listed Tata enterprises, and they have a combined market capitalisation of some $80 billion and a shareholder base of 3.5 million.

The major Tata companies are Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata Power, Tata Chemicals, Tata Global Beverages, Indian Hotels, Titan Industries, and Tata Communications.


Image: Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Reuters
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