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Largest Gift in Tuck History to Fuel Global Learning Program

A $25-million donation from the American family foundation of Michaela and Zdenek Bakala T’89 will support TuckGO, the school’s global learning program.

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth is pleased to announce the largest gift commitment in its history—a $25-million donation from the Bakala Foundation USA in support of Tuck’s global learning program.

The Bakala Foundation USA is the American family foundation of Michaela and Zdenek Bakala T’89, a Czech-born investor, philanthropist, and member of Tuck’s Board of Advisors.

The gift consists of a foundational investment to endow TuckGO—the portfolio of for-credit immersive educational experiences that comprise Tuck’s global learning requirement—and creates the Bakala Global Suite, the future home to the TuckGO offices and a hub of student, faculty, and staff collaboration.

“This is an incredible moment for Tuck and for the generations of students who will benefit from the Bakalas’ extraordinary generosity,” said Dean Matthew J. Slaughter. “Their gift ensures that TuckGO, already a vibrant and innovative part of learning at Tuck, will connect students even more to the world’s diversity, dynamism, and innovation.”

“Solving humankind’s most complex challenges requires leaders who can work effectively across cultures,” said Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon D’77. “Through Michaela and Zdenek’s inspiring investment, Tuck will remain at the forefront of developing such global business leaders. We are all tremendously grateful for their vision and commitment.”

Their gift ensures that TuckGO, already a vibrant and innovative part of learning at Tuck, will connect students even more to the world’s diversity, dynamism, and innovation.

Part of The Tuck Difference: The Campaign for Tomorrow’s Wise Leaders, the gift will go to strengthening existing TuckGO offerings and fund new and varied educational experiences that take place in locations and industries that students seek. It will also help cover operational costs for the program, funding related logistics, travel, and preparatory expenses, and furthering the personal scale that is the hallmark of learning at Tuck by allowing for continued small cohort sizes.

The Tuck Difference is targeting a $250-million investment in support of Tuck’s people, programs, and places, and is part of Dartmouth College’s $3-billion comprehensive campaign, The Call to Lead.

Established in 2015, TuckGO—short for “Tuck Global Opportunities”—has been a distinctive part of the Tuck curriculum and a critical differentiator for Tuck among MBA programs. To satisfy the global learning requirement, students must take one of three immersive experiential courses in a country that is new to them—a qualifying First-Year Project; an OnSite Global Consulting assignment; or a Global Insight Expedition, all experiences designed, taught, and assessed by a Tuck faculty member or faculty adviser—or participate as an international exchange student with a partner institution.

The historic gift builds on Michaela and Zdenek’s longstanding support of Tuck and its students.

“At Tuck, we believe it’s critical that every student has the skills, knowledge, and global mindset to successfully navigate the different cultures, economies, and industries in which they will work. This wonderful gift strengthens our ability to develop those capabilities,” said Peter Golder, faculty director for TuckGO and a professor of marketing at Tuck.

The historic gift builds on Michaela and Zdenek’s longstanding support of Tuck and its students. In 2009 they endowed the Bakala Professor of Strategy, held by current incumbent Richard D’Aveni. The Bakalas have contributed significantly to Tuck’s global offerings in the past, with Bakala affiliated organizations sponsoring more OnSite Global Consulting projects than any other organization. They have also provided generous support of Tuck Executive Education programs and the campus master plan guiding the transformation of Dartmouth’s West End.


“Tuck provided me with tremendous opportunities throughout my life and career,” said Zdenek Bakala, a member of both Tuck’s Board of Advisors and European Council. “As future classes of Tuck students pursue global careers of their own, this program will be essential to their preparation—giving them tangible skills and a better understanding of the world and of themselves. We are thrilled to support such meaningful experiences at a school that has meant so much to me.”

Solving humankind’s most complex challenges requires leaders who can work effectively across cultures.

Zdenek Bakala graduated from Tuck in 1989 and began his career in investment banking in New York at Drexel Burnham Lambert and Bank of America, later joining Credit Suisse First Boston in London. In 1994 he founded Patria Finance, the first private investment banking group in the Czech Republic. In 2004 Bakala was one of several founders of BXR Group, an international private investment group with a global portfolio of assets.  

Bakala is also a committed philanthropist with a particular passion for education and encouragement of democratic values. In 2007, he and Michaela founded the Bakala Foundation, which awards scholarships for talented Czech Republic students to study abroad at leading institutions. Along with many other organizations and causes, Bakala is a benefactor of the Vaclav Havel Library, which serves as a center for the documentation and research of modern Czech history, the Aspen Institute Central Europe, and the Design Museum of London.

“Zdenek’s life and career is the very model of global engagement,” added Slaughter. “This wonderful gift ensures that our graduates will embark on their careers with the cross-cultural abilities and acumen to engage with our diverse world of business.”

All gifts to support Tuck accord with the school’s foundational value of academic freedom, which is essential to its research and teaching mission. At no time, today or in the future, does any gift to Tuck direct the inquiry, research, teaching, or learning of faculty, students, or staff.