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Haas Dean Breaks Out Guitar, Channels Paul Simon to Spur Record Fundraising

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To encourage members of the UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business community to take part in a campus-wide online fundraiser last month, the school’s dean broke into song. A music video of Haas Dean Rich Lyons playing guitar and singing “I’m  going to Haasland” to the tune of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” helped Haas raise a record $700,000 as part of the UC Berkeley-wide 2015 Big Give on November 19th.

The Big Give is a 24-hour, campus-wide online fundraiser now in its second year, in which different schools on the UC Berkeley campus engage in friendly rivalry in an effort to best one another in terms of how much money they can drum up for their own schools. With 561 gifts in all, Haas donors this year topped last year’s total of $561,000 and came in second overall among all schools and departments, just behind the College of Engineering. Haas got an additional $22,600 in extra “Big Slice” funds for its second-place finish. In all, the Big Give elicited 8,148 gifts totaling $5.5 million.

“We are so thankful for the tremendous support and enthusiasm we received from all of our generous donors this year,” Michelle McClellan, assistant dean of Berkeley-Haas Development & Alumni Relations, said in a statement. “The entire Berkeley-Haas community came together to support programs, students and faculty, making this year’s event even better than the last.”

The theme of this year’s fundraiser was “Think Bigger,” and individual donors took to social media to post photos of themselves topped by thought-bubbles filled in with their perspectives on how Berkeley reaches beyond itself.

Haas dean
In his YouTube music video
, Lyons starts out at his desk, with thought-bubbles of his own over his head, musing about how he can inspire others to think bigger, dream bigger and imagine bigger. He then picks up his guitar and begins to strum, stroll and sing tailored lyrics extolling the school’s Nobel laureautes (acknowledging, self-deprecatingly, that he doesn’t have one yet), four founding principles and the talent and achievements of its alumnae.

“When you give to the Haas fund, it’s like a window on your heart,” he croons. “Everyone sees you’ve done your part. Everybody feels the spirit grow.”

If you haven’t checked out the video, it’s worth the three-minute investment to get a better sense of the person at the helm of the Haas School. But be forewarned. You’re likely to wind up with the chorus—“Haasland, Haasland, right here in ‘ole Berkeley, we’re going to Haasland”—stuck in your head.

Learn more about Haas’s recent fundraising efforts as part of the Big Give.