The taxi driver who first dropped him off at the school told him, “Here you are at the West Point of capitalism.” Bush in fact treated Harvard Business School as a serious cadet would, and that marked a big change from his college days. As an undergraduate, he took his partying seriously and quickly developed an easy rapport with his classmates.
As his close friend Roland W. Betts recalled, while other students were still adjusting to freshman life, “George was the person who in three months knew the name of everybody and actually knew 50 percent of the class.”
As an undergraduate Bush had been elected president of the Yale chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon, renowned for its parties and sports talk. In business school he pushed aside the parties and focused more on the books. As Bush recalled later, “I studied, and ran and rode my bike a lot. I was there to learn, and that’s exactly what I did.”
On weekends he partied at a country music club in Boston and escaped whenever he could to his parents’ home in Kennebunkport, Maine. But by most accounts, he made himself into a serious student.
In one class, Bush found himself occupying the “Sky Deck,” the back row of the theater-style classroom. As Charles Braxton, a former classmate, recollected, “He was the perfect Sky Decker. He wanted to take it all in, hear everybody, and pick his spot to make a big-picture comment.”
Bush proved himself a student with a broad outlook, a sense for the mega-issue—and an instinct for humor and mischief. The professor in one class session explored paper flow in the office of one of the state’s senators, Edward M. Kennedy. One of the students challenged the instructor to explain why that was relevant in a business course. The professor replied that someone in the class might someday become president of the United States. From his Sky Deck seat, Bush shot both arms in the air to convey the famous Nixon “V for victory” gesture.