Haas alumnus donates millions to fund new campus hall

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The UC Berkeley Haas School of Business is on track for a much-needed physical expansion after a donation of $15 to $25 million from Kevin Chou, a Haas alumnus and founding CEO of mobile gaming studio Kabam, and physician and entrepreneur Dr. Connie Chen, his wife.

The donation, announced March 2, is the largest gift UC Berkeley has ever received from an alumnus under 40. The proceeds from this donation will go toward the construction of the Connie & Kevin Chou Hall, an 80,000-square-foot academic building expected to open this fall. The additional space comes as a relief for Haas’ increased enrollment, which has almost doubled in the past two decades, according to the press release announcing the donation.

“(Chou Hall) will be devoted entirely to student learning and interaction in classrooms and study spaces. It will not contain any offices for faculty or staff,” said Kim Girard, Haas news editor and spokesperson, in an email.

The donation caps off a total of $60 million in building costs, all of which came from private donations.

Girard said in the email that real estate managing partner Ned Spieker was essential to the overall vision behind the project. Girard also identified the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, Robert G. O’Donnell, Barclay Simpson and an additional anonymous benefactor as major contributors to the project in her email.

The terms of the donation include an initial $15 million pledge from Chou and Chen, with up to $10 million in potential “step-up” donations after five years.

Chou, who received his bachelor’s degree from Haas in 2002, hasn’t strayed far from his alma mater. He co-founded Kabam in San Francisco with fellow UC Berkeley alumni Mike Li and Holly Liu, and in 2013, the company signed a 15-year, $18 million contract for naming rights to the football field at California Memorial Stadium.

Chou also remains personally active on campus. He appeared at a public Berkeley Forum event in September 2015 to discuss his business career, spoke at Haas’ spring 2016 commencement and currently serves on the UC Berkeley Foundation Board of Trustees.

In a video accompanying the donation’s announcement, Chou and Chen both emphasized diversity as key to the UC Berkeley experience and to what they hoped their contributions would encourage.

“I’m excited to be able to do this at this point in my career because I get to spend time with students and with Haas professors and other administrators, collaborating and helping them think about the new student space and the program,” Chou said in the video.

Contact Connor Bunnell at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @cbunnell_dc.