Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass trustee gifts $1.5 million towards an endowed professorship for Isenberg School of Management

The gift is to honor the legacy of Chancellor Subbaswamy, who announced his retirement for June 2023.
Daily Collegian (2020)

The University of Massachusetts recently announced a $1.5 million gift from Robert L. Epstein, a member of the board of trustees, towards an endowed professorship in the Isenberg School of Management.

According to a press release from the University, the gift “honors Epstein’s friendship with UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and the chancellor’s decade of exceptional service to the university.”

“I have been inspired by the innovation and growth UMass and Isenberg have seen under Chancellor Subbaswamy’s leadership,” Epstein explained. “The university is attracting students of the highest caliber who are eager to make a difference in their chosen fields; and faculty scholarship has had a considerable impact both in the commonwealth and on the national stage. It is an honor to contribute to this upward trajectory with a gift that will further bolster academic excellence in the Isenberg School of Management.”

The endowed professorship will “help attract or retain an outstanding faculty member, with a preference for faculty in hospitality and tourism management, who will strengthen the academic excellence of the Isenberg School of Management and advance industry knowledge through research, scholarship and inspired teaching,” according to the release. Costs such as salary supplementation, education and travel expenses, graduate assistantships, research expenses and support services for the faculty member’s program will be provided through the fund.

In a statement, Chancellor Subbaswamy explained how essential faculty are for the University to “produce revolutionary scholarship and graduates who bring insight and ingenuity to a host of sectors around the world.”

“I deeply appreciate my friendship with Bob. He has provided me important guidance along the way, and I am inspired by his dedication to his work, including his role on the Foundation Board, and the Board of Trustees. His generosity will provide untold benefits for our students and industry partners in the years to come,” Subbaswamy said.

“Bob is an incredibly generous philanthropist who cares deeply about the success of the school and its students. With this gift, he hopes to reinvigorate enthusiasm around the hospitality industry, one that was highly impacted by the pandemic,” Jennie Figueiredo, the director of development for the Isenberg School of Management, explained. “His generosity will help educate the next generation of hospitality leaders that go on to exciting global job opportunities in a rewarding field.”

Figueiredo added that there has been a key fundraising initiative for Isenberg’s dean towards named faculty positions. “It is mission-critical for us to recruit and retain our world-class faculty so we can continue to provide our students with the highest quality education that successfully prepares them for their careers,” Figueiredo said.

“For Isenberg students, this means another teacher with cutting-edge expertise and experience. It also means an enhanced reputation for the school; as such, faculty members publish academic scholarship that makes a splash among peers and in the business world.”

Figueiredo also helped to provide context to the nature of a professorship. “In higher education, a professorship is one of the highest honors school leadership can confer on a faculty member to recognize their excellence in teaching and research. This vote of confidence publicly affirms the University’s faith in the quality and potential of an individual, a significant tool for successfully attracting and retaining the best and brightest professors,” she explained. “This distinguished honor enhances both the school and the recipient’s profile and influence in the industry.”

“The minimum level to endow a professorship at UMass Amherst is $1.5M. These funds are invested in the University’s endowment and a portion of the interest earned is used each year as spendable income,” she noted. “Since the endowment principal is not spent, the fund lives in perpetuity and generates earnings to support the school for years to come, creating a legacy for the donor and guaranteed support for the school and named incumbents.”

Subbaswamy announced his retirement last June, explaining that he will step down at the end of June 2023. According to the University, UMass rose from 52 to 26 in U.S. News & World Report Colleges Guide among public universities under Subbaswamy’s time as chancellor. Additionally, first-year applications “increased by 30 percent over the past 10 years,” the six-year graduation rate “increased steadily to 84 percent” and student diversity increased, with “37 percent of this past year’s entering class being students of color, up from 21% a decade ago.”

Subbaswamy also helped drive University research, with UMass totaling $213 million in research expenditures for FY 2021. Furthermore, the University “ranked first among public universities in New England in National Science Foundation grant awards.”

Financially, Subbaswamy saw major investments in the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences and the Marieb College of Nursing, including “the largest cash gift in UMass Amherst history” of $21.5 million from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation to go to UMass’s Nursing Engineering Center.

Epstein graduated from Isenberg in 1967 with a degree in marketing, and turned his grandfather’s local business “from a small, regional operation to a force to be reckoned with throughout New England.” In a “Profile in Philanthropy”from 2019, Epstein explained that his support for Isenberg is a “give-back story.”

“[The Isenberg School of Management] gave me a great business foundation. UMass and Isenberg were inspirational. They have allowed generations of students to go from a ‘can’t-do’ to a ‘can-do’ mentality. Our degrees have given us the ability to stick our heads out of our shells and succeed after graduation.”

Epstein was also the co-chair of UMass Rising, the largest fundraising campaign in UMass history. The campaign “mobilized more than 100,000 alumni and friends” and raised $379 million from 2010-2016. Additionally, he established the Robert L. Epstein Endowed Scholarship through the Isenberg School of Management and helped to support the creation of Isenberg’s Business Innovation Hub.

Epstein is the co-owner and president of the Horizon Beverage Group. According to their website, Horizon “connects a network of makers, retailers and consumers across New England.” A family-owned company, Horizon employs over “700 team members” throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.

Alex Genovese can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @alex_genovese1.

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    Dr. EdOct 12, 2022 at 10:15 am

    We are celebrating a SIX year graduation rate?!?