Friday, March 29, 2013

UMass Tough

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of dining at the UMass University Club in Amherst, in the building which dates to 1728.

The occasion was to discuss opportunities for our students, in terms of projects and internships, and opportunities for the faculty in the Isenberg School, in terms of research, that would be of interest/relevance to our guest from the Boston area. The guest at the lunch is a top exec at a financial services firm. He had met with some Computer Science faculty that morning.

Our guest was a UMass Amherst alum who had graduated over 35 years ago. He was going to meet with our Chancellor after our lunch.

Joining me at the lunch was a colleague of mine, a representative from the top administration for development, and also a representative responsible for UMass industry partnerships.

The conversations that we had were fabulous -- from high technology to network and cyber security to how it was to be a UMass student back in the days -- late 1960s and early 1970s. He was impressed that UMass dining services are now consistently recognized with national awards and I have even dined on lobster in one of our Dining Commons!

Our guest of honor was so engaging and interesting and it was fascinating to discuss some of the challenges faced by industry on the topics above. As someone who loves computer programming, we also had great discussions about computing from mainframe computing and cloud computing to mobile apps.

Our guest of honor had lived, as an undergrad, in Southwest, in one of the high rise dorms. He had lived on the 22nd floor (my daughter has freshman friends who now reside on the 21st and 22nd floors and one has an elevator phobia).

He was an undergrad during the Richard Gere days (yes, the movie star) and Dr. J. of basketball fame.

In our conversations, I noted that UMass students, including those who live in Southwest (many of whom, honestly, love the experience),  develop a kind of resiliency that is very useful in their professional careers.

I told him that right on the Isenberg School of Management homepage we have what may be our motto:

Resilient Leadership for an Evolving Business Climate.

He responded that the UMass motto maybe should be: UMass Tough, which, frankly, I really like! I told him to suggest this motto to our Chancellor. According to Wikipedia, we do have a motto but, honestly, this is the first time I have ever heard of it.

Later, he was going to meet his college room-mate, whom he had not seen in 35 years, and who is an architect in Conway.

A delightful time with a wonderful UMass alum. I do hope that we can build some strong partnerships -- he told me that his firm has over 300 UMass alums in high positions.