Gift Emphasizes the Business of Education through Multidisciplinary Collaboration

Louise Bryson, AM ’69 and MBA ’79, and her husband, John, AB ’65, have committed $1 million—$500,000 each to Stanford GSB and Stanford University School of Education.

October 15, 2008

The changing landscape of education, with its increased emphasis on accountability, puts greater pressure on administrators to acquire skills more traditionally aligned with leaders from a business background. Louise Bryson, AM ’69 and MBA ’79, and her husband, John, AB ’65, see this cross-sector phenomenon as an opportunity to fund further collaboration between Stanford University’s business and education schools.

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Principal Fellows Program

Participants in the Principal Fellows Program, a joint effort by the GSB and the School of Education, listen to a presentation.

“For educational reform to be successful, school administrators must better develop their leadership and business management skills,” says Louise Bryson. “There is no better way to accomplish that than by working with the top minds in management.”

The Brysons have committed $1 million—$500,000 each to the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stanford University School of Education. At Stanford GSB, the gift is split between the Education Innovation Fund, which supports teaching and research, course and case development, executive education, and multidisciplinary initiatives, and the Bryson Family Fellowship Fund, which is the first fellowship at Stanford GSB dedicated to supporting students in the joint MBA/MA Education program.

“We hope our gift inspires others to join us in supporting the collaboration between the business and education schools,” says John Bryson. At the education school, the Brysons’ gift will support three areas: a three-year staff position to develop and coordinate internships and other field experiences for students in the joint degree and Policy Organization and Leadership Studies (POLS) programs, a fellowship to support students enrolled in the POLS/New Leaders for New Schools program, and expenses of Stanford GSB faculty involved in the executive education and professional development programs run by the education school.

The joint-degree program between the two schools is not just the longest-running program of its kind in the country, but it is also Stanford GSB’s most popular joint-degree program, with about 20 students each year receiving the MBA/MA Education degrees.

The two schools also work together on the Leadership, Equity, and Accountability in Districts Program and the Executive Education Program for Educational Leaders. Held each summer at Stanford, the first program brings together teams of teachers and administrators from 10 urban school districts to strategize and collaborate on district reform. In both programs, faculty speakers from both schools help participants apply best practices of instructional leadership as well as organizational management and leadership to move reform forward. Another joint program debuted this summer: the Principal Fellows Program provides a year-long fellowship for early-career principals facing critical challenges such as managing change, creating cultures of high performance, and building systemic support for student achievement.

“The way our two schools have come together in the last decade has inspired the rest of Stanford,” said Dean Robert L. Joss. “The business-education partnership has become something to emulate across campus.”

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