Hamline News

Connecting through Philanthropy: Jayne Harris MBA ’08


For alumna and Women in Philanthropy Advisory Council member Jayne Harris MBA ’08, Hamline was not the path she had envisioned in her twenties. After life took an unexpected turn, she ended up in the first cohort of the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

“At age 27 I had my life plan all figured out. I was studying to take the GMAT to apply to graduate school, launched a career in an international computer company, earned myself a few promotions, and was a recipient of the company’s prestigious Great Performers’ Award. Everything was right on track,” Harris said. 

As is often the case, however, all of this changed when Harris had the first of her two children. While her plan for graduate school was put on hold for two decades, her dreams for an MBA got back on track when she enrolled in Hamline’s MBA cohort program. The program was perfect for her. It was built for professionals with business experience, was economical without sacrificing quality, and it didn’t hurt that she was familiar with Hamline because her husband, Frank Harris, had graduated from the law school. 

“The cohort program isn’t a ‘sit-and-get’ degree. Rather, the value of the program comes from the interaction in the classroom—the conversations, the dialogue, the disagreement,” Harris said.

The structure of the cohort program helps develop strong relationships. For Harris, her cohort will always be a part of her life. The fact that they were the first class graduating from Hamline’s MBA program made it all the more special. 

Since graduating from Hamline, Harris has received her Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation—a designation held by just 2% of all those in the insurance industry. She attributes this major success to the critical thinking skills she developed during her time at Hamline. Because of that, she feels that giving back is critical. After attending the School of Business alumni event in November and hearing from the university’s new President, Dr. Fayneese Miller, she felt inspired to become even more involved at Hamline.

“As a member of Hamline’s Women in Philanthropy group, I hope to be a role model to other women in teaching, practicing and reinforcing the love of giving,” Harris said. “Women have long served as volunteers and there are so many wonderful role models in this capacity. However until recent years, philanthropy has remained uncharted territory for many women. There is no right way, right time, right amount to give—each individual brings their own story to the giving process.”

With Women in Philanthropy, Harris has gotten the chance to connect with other women who are passionate about supporting a range of programs at Hamline. Regular meetings and events draw a community of alumnae, students, faculty, staff, and philanthropists together. They receive support and feedback about their goals to improve educational opportunities for current Hamline students. She and her husband are excited to be living out their passion for education by helping others on their educational journey. 

“Although our contributions are modest, our gifts together with others make a difference for many students,” Harris said.