Gifts Help Transform Educational Experience at Stanford GSB

R. Michael Shanahan, AB ’60, MBA ’65, made the single largest gift to Stanford GSB for an endowed fellowship fund from a living donor to establish the R. Michael Shanahan Fellowship.

April 15, 2010

Transformational gifts create significant change by focusing on key priorities that have the power to shape the future for generations to come. At Stanford GSB, alumni who look to the future often are inspired by the impact the school has had on them, not just professionally but personally as well.

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R. Michael Shanahan, AB ’60, MBA ’65, was honored with the Arbuckle Award in 2009 in recognition of his exemplary leadership.

R. Michael Shanahan, AB ’60, MBA ’65, continues to define that tradition of transformation at Stanford GSB. Renowned as a savvy investor, Shanahan, who is chairman emeritus of Capital Research and Management Co., recently chose to make another significant investment—in this case toward student financial aid and curricular innovation—two key areas of priority for the school. With two extraordinary gifts, totaling $10 million, Shanahan is enthusiastic about the potential of Stanford GSB to shape students on a highly personal level, and he embodies the spirit of innovation that has been the hallmark of the school.

As the single largest gift to Stanford GSB for an endowed fellowship fund from a living donor, Shanahan’s $4 million commitment to establish the R. Michael Shanahan Fellowship is all the more momentous at a time when the need for graduate student fellowships is on the rise. In addition, his investment of $6 million to significantly augment the R. Michael Shanahan Dean’s Discretionary Fund focuses on opportunities to enhance the student experience. To that end, improvements to the redesigned MBA curriculum—first launched three years ago and also supported in part by his generosity—were approved this academic year based on the recommendations of a faculty review committee.

Shanahan cites good reason to embrace his education and credits the efforts of the late Dean Ernest C. Arbuckle. As Shanahan sees it, the MBA Class of ’65 was one of the first to benefit from Arbuckle’s drive to recruit faculty and students, revise the curriculum, and provide intensive staff support. “I needed all the help he devised,” Shanahan deadpanned.

He recalls that the MBA program’s focus had been on business enterprises, but that Arbuckle stressed the importance of studying the people filling those jobs, rather than just the typical analysis of a job’s function within the enterprise. “It was a revelation—not overwhelmingly popular, but overwhelmingly successful.”

Without his experience analyzing processes and people at Stanford GSB, Shanahan never would have considered embarking on the career that he did. At Capital Research, he helped his firm blossom into one of the three largest U.S. mutual fund companies and nurtured such startups as Advanced Micro Devices and Sequoia Capital. Shanahan previously received the prestigious Arbuckle Award bestowed by Stanford GSB Alumni Association for distinguished service to the school, and fittingly named for the dean who influenced so many. As an institution, Stanford GSB is dedicated to development of the next generation of principled leaders. All that makes Stanford GSB special would not be possible without the impressive dedication demonstrated by alumni like Shanahan, to whom future generations are indebted for his generosity and foresight.

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