Press "Enter" to skip to content

Economics professor discusses importance of new graduate school of business

The Campanil posed questions to Siobhan Reilly, the James Irvine Professor of Economics. The questions and her answers are reprinted below.

Campanil: How can we expect the new graduate school of business to benefit future Mills students, especially women?

The Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business will benefit Mills students in many, many ways. It’s a shining beacon of professional possibilities for women, and the avenues it opens are as diverse and exciting as the women who come to us.
First, as [a] business school focused on advancing women’s leadership, it is unique in the West, and nearly so in the entire United States. It’s no accident that this radical innovation happened at Mills, but it’s very fortunate for Mills students that it is here. One reason is that, as enrollments in business schools the world over prove, women aren’t drawn to business school in the numbers men are, even though the research shows that women who earn MBAs are highly satisfied with what their MBAs have done for them. Having the Lokey School beckoning to them every day as they enter campus is going to bring more and more Mills women to the realization that they can add an MBA to their undergraduate major in any field, and spring ahead in the fields they love.

I think many at Mills would be astonished to know how many of the [newly named] Lokey School’s most distinguished alumnae majored in the Fine Arts, in Women’s Studies, in English, or in the Natural Sciences. Sometimes I say that the MBA makes the world safe for humanities majors! An MBA also brings powerful tools for women focused on social change. At the Lokey School, they can opt for a focus in non-profit management or sustainable business (and training in entrepreneurship) so that they can leverage their organizations’ resources most effectively for progress. Women working in the non-profit world quickly discover that they face many of the same challenges businesses do, and that knowledge of traditional areas of business, like finance, marketing, and operations, are vital to the creation of the kind of strong, sustainable organizations that can actually have an impact.

Mills students will also benefit richly from the people and resources that the Lokey School will bring to campus. For example, a generous gift from another truly dedicated and long-time supporter of the Lokey School has brought us the Center for Socially Responsible Business. The Center will host an annual conference and a public lecture series that will bring leaders in socially responsible business to Mills, and support curricular innovation so that the Lokey School can offer courses at the very forefront of developments in the field.

Faculty and staff at the Lokey School work tirelessly to build relationships with business leaders and socially responsible businesses and organizations, and those relationships have meant a steady stream of golden opportunities-jobs, internships, mentoring and some large scholarships-for Mills students. The Lokey School has been a magnet for generosity and an outlet for some true visionaries to give back to society through Mills.

Campanil: How do you feel to be celebrating the groundbreaking and naming of a building that so many people have put their time, effort and resources into?

It is hard to put the emotions into words. First comes an upwelling of gratitude. Gratitude for the staggering generosity of Lorry Lokey and our other cherished donors, who entrusted the fruit of a lifetime of hard work and brilliant business decisions to Mills for women’s advancement. Gratitude for the dedication and wisdom of Nancy Thornborrow, who devoted so many years, and the unrelentingly focus of her admirable mind, to making her daring idea into a marvelous reality. And gratitude toward the trustees and the administrators, the faculty and staff, the students and alumnae, who worked alongside them to create and house the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business.

Second comes sheer joy. What could be more exhilarating than to be at Mills, as this unrivaled opportunity comes to women and a panorama of new possibilities opens before us?!

Third comes a deep sense of responsibility. Nancy calls Mr. Lokey our “angel investor.” She stresses the “angel.” He stresses the “investor.” As an investor, he sought to give Mills and its students the means to produce something of value. It’s my job, and all of ours, to see that we use those means to their fullest, that our own efforts are unstinting and efficient, and our standards high, so that we can stand back and say that this good man got his money’s worth. Not a day has passed since he first made his gift that I haven’t thought about that, and not a day has passed that it hasn’t, at least once, spurred me to give more to this enterprise, in which all of us so believe. We’re leveraging more than his money; we’re leveraging his idealism.