‘Curious about the world and people’: Former Haas School of Business dean Raymond Miles dies at 86

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Former UC Berkeley Haas School of Business dean and professor Raymond Miles, who was loved for his generosity and selflessness, died in Albany on May 13. He was 86.

Miles, an Air Force veteran with degrees from the University of North Texas and Stanford University, taught at the Haas School of Business from 1963 to 1992 and served as the dean of the school for almost a decade. His friends, family and colleagues remember him as a personable and well-respected leader.

“We live in a narcissistic society, and Miles was just the opposite,” said Penn State business professor emeritus Charles Snow, Miles’ former graduate student and longtime collaborator. “He liked seeing other people succeed, and those people are now kind of rare.”

During his time as the dean of Haas, Miles established the Young Entrepreneurs at Haas. This program, now known as Boost, seeks to “inspire, elevate and support” disadvantaged Bay Area high school students and help them “realize their true leadership potential,” according to the Haas website.

Miles also helped lead the effort to devise a plan and raise funds so that Haas could move into its own complex of buildings on campus, a project that was completed after Miles’ time as dean. Haas professor and former dean Rich Lyons described this effort as “a real turning point for the reputation” of Haas, helping to further establish it as one of the leading business schools in the country.

As a researcher, Miles authored and co-authored dozens of articles, chapters and books, including his 1978 book “Organizational Strategy, Structure, and Process,” which he wrote with Snow.

Miles’ work focused on the idea that “people aren’t just units of labor that you hire to do a particular job,” Lyons said. Rather, they should be valued and supported by their employers, which Lyons said was “new thinking” during Miles’ early career. Lyons added that Miles worked to apply this idea in his everyday life.

“He didn’t just write about that and think about that,” Lyons said. “He actually did it.”

Miles is survived by his children Laura Miles-Banta, Grant Miles and Ken Miles. Grant Miles studied under Snow at Penn State and is currently an associate professor of management at the University of Maine. He said he appreciated realizing both the extent of his father’s accomplishments and how “respected and genuinely liked” his father was.

Grant Miles also recalled that neighboring kids and some of his father’s Haas graduate students would gather at the Miles household for games of pickup basketball and football, with Raymond Miles “still holding his own and having fun” even in his 60s.

Grant Miles said his father “never thought too highly of himself” despite his status as a prominent academic and later as a dean.

“I always come back to his kindness and inclusion of others,” Grant Miles said. “He was curious about the world and people.”

Contact Nick Furgatch at [email protected].