What It Takes to Have a Top-Tier US Business School Named After You


25 of the top 30 business schools in the US, going by the US News and World Report rankings, are named after an individual.  Most of them are named after an alumnus who made a sizable donation to the institution, with the amounts ranging from $20 million to as much as $300 million!  Check out the eye-popping list below.

Locations of 25 of the Top 30 Business Schools in the US
Locations of 25 of the Top 30 Business Schools in the US


Top 25 US Business Schools Named After an Individual:

#2 (overall rank). University of Chicago (Booth): $300 million in 2008 (or an inflation-adjusted $335 million today in 2016 dollars)

#4. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton): $100,000 in 1881 (2016 equivalent: unknown)

#5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan): Unknown amount

#5. Northwestern University (Kellogg): $10 million in 1979 (2016: $33 million)

#7. University of California (Haas): $23.75 million in 1989 (2016: $47.63 million)

#8. Dartmouth College (Tuck): $300,000 in 1900 (2016 equivalent: unknown)

#11. University of Virginia (Darden): —

#12. Duke University (Fuqua): $10 million plus donations over many years (2016: $47 million)

#12. University of Michigan (Ross): $100 million in 2004 (2016: $127 million)

#14. Cornell University (Johnson): $20 million in 1984 (2016: $46 million)

#15. University of California (Anderson): $40 million in 1987 + $100 million in 2015 (2016: $185 million)

#16. University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler): $50 million  in 1991 (2016: $88 million)

#16. University of Texas (McCombs): $50 million in 2005 (2016: $61 million)

#18. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper): $55 million in 2004 (2016: $70 million)

#19. Emory University (Goizueta): Unknown amount

#20. New York University (Stern): $30 million in 1988 (2016: $61 million)

#21. Washington University (Olin): Unknown amount

#22. Georgetown University (McDonough): $30 million in 1998 (2016: $44 million)

#22. Indiana University (Kelley): $23 million in 1997 (2016: $34 million)

#22. Vanderbilt University (Owen): $62 million in 1983 (2016: $149 million)

#25. Rice University (Jones): Unknown amount

#25. University of Notre Dame (Mendoza): $35 million in 2000 (2016: $48 million)

#27. Ohio State University (Fisher): $20 million in 1993 (2016: $33 million)

#27. University of Minnesota (Carlson): $25 million in 1986 (2016: $54 million)

#27. University of Washington (Foster): $50 million in 2007 (2016: $57 million)


Here’s how and when the title of “The Largest Donation to a Business School” changed hands over the years:

1881: University of Pennsylvania (Wharton): $100,000

1900: Dartmouth College (Tuck): $300,000

1983: Vanderbilt University (Owen): $33.5 million

1987: University of California (Anderson): $40 million

2000: University of Texas (McCombs): $50 million

2004: University of Michigan (Ross): $100 million

2008: University of Chicago (Booth): $300 million


Of course, it’s not all about money.  Naming an institution after an individual does not solely depend on the size of the donation a person is willing to make.  No institution worth its name would accept a contribution from a known mafia don, drug lord, or any individual of questionable integrity.  The reputation of the college will ride on the chosen individual’s name.

Besides, changing an institution’s name is a tedious exercise in re-branding.  So, it is not a process any institution can afford to go wrong with.  The Tanaka Scandal is an example of how messy a process it can be if things do go wrong.  The business school of the Imperial College London was renamed Tanaka Business School after a businessman named Gary A. Tanaka donated £27 million in 2000.  However, in 2008, the name of the college was changed back to Imperial College Business School after Mr. Tanaka’s fraudulent activities came to light.  So, unless you’re a person of unquestionable integrity, no respected institution is likely to take your name, no matter how much money you are willing to contribute.

In addition, it will help to make your case if you’re incredibly accomplished, inspirational, and a long-time champion—not necessarily an alum—of the school.  Good luck!



If you aspire to have a top-tier business school named after you, so that your name lives on for centuries: Five US business schools in the Top 30 continue to go by their original names.  Then again, we wonder what the price tag would be if Harvard, Stanford, Yale, or Columbia were to agree to be named after a benefactor.  Half a billion dollars may not be out of question!  You could cast a wider, global net and follow in the footsteps of Shailesh J. Mehta, after whom the revered Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay’s School of Management is named.  (Mr. Mehta has donated “millions” to IIT Bombay over the years.)

If you’re just starting off on a professional career and aspire to attend a top-tier business school, you may find this post interesting: Things To Do Before You Go Overseas For Higher Studies.


Featured image courtesy of Tyler

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