From a Bloomberg News article on how business schools are competing to erect elaborate and expensive new buildings:
Yale business faculty now work in buildings that date back to 1836, in offices designed as bedrooms and dining rooms with fireplaces and plaster moldings. Many classrooms and staff offices are in a sunken building constructed in 1961, which first housed Yale's computer and later its astronomy department.
"The current facility doesn't look and feel like a business school," Levin said. "I think it does hurt us in attracting students."
Having more students will allow Yale to assure its programs are fully enrolled and to justify the size of its faculty, Oster said.
"You don't want to be in a position where you have three students in each category because you'll never get enough recruiters and you won't get classroom excitement if the electives have too few people in them," Oster said. "We don't have enough students to go around."
Look, Yale may or may not need a new building for its business school, and certainly the Yale president and dean are in a better position to determine it than an outsider such as myself, but on the face of it, I don't find the case as presented in this article particularly convincing.
Let's take it point by point.
"Yale business faculty now work in buildings that date back to 1836." So what? Drew Faust manages to run Harvard from a building that was built in 1718. President Obama manages to run the country from a building whose cornerstone was laid in 1792. The pope runs the Catholic Church from an Apostolic Palace whose construction began in 1589.
Then there's the argument that with the current building, Yale doesn't have "enough students to go around" or to "justify the size of its faculty." There are ways to address these issues other than building a new building. Yale could reduce the size of its faculty. Or it could admit more of the applicants it gets each year. In 2009 it received 2,790 applications for a two-year program that includes 434 full-time MBA slots and reported admitting just 18% of those who applied. It seems like there were plenty of students who were undeterred by the prospect of attending classes in buildings that date to 1836, and by the prospect of paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in tuition to do so. Maybe what Yale is trying to say is that with the current buildings there isn't enough room for more students. But what the Bloomberg article suggests instead is that the current buildings are so lame that not enough students want to go to school there, which doesn't seem to be borne out by the statistics on applications and admissions.