Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Very Sad News - Mr. Gene Isenberg, Nabors Industries Leader and Philanthropist, Has Passed Away

This morning, while seated in my office at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, where I am a Visiting Professor (and spending spring break), I received the very sad news.

In checking my email, there was a message to the Isenberg School community from our Dean, Dr. Mark Fuller, that Mr. Gene Isenberg, the former CEO of Nabors Industries, had passed away on March 16, 2014. The announcement included the link to the Houston news.

I remember fondly multiple wonderful meetings with Mr. Isenberg and his lovely wife, Ronnie, over the years, even before they made the huge donation and now we have the named Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst since the late 1990s.

One of my fondest meetings was at a lunch I had with them in the Dean's suite and I brought over photos of our time in Sweden, back in 1996, when I was a Visiting Professor at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, and my daughter had attended the local daghes (daycare). The Isenbergs had lived in different countries and have two daughters and we had wonderful conversations about living abroad and how important such experiences are. Very soon after, and the then Dean, Dr. Tom O'Brien, can confirm,  the Isenbergs signed the big check. Tom O'Brien had nurtured wonderful relationships with the Isenbergs which made this magnificent gift come to fruition.

Because of the Isenbergs' philanthropy and generosity also with time and ideas we have our beautiful business school, with high tech classrooms, and great breakout areas and offices.  And the Isenberg School of Management graduates about one quarter of the undergraduates each year at UMass Amherst. Such is the demand for our programs!

Mr. Isenberg had such a great sense of humor, such energy, and an incredible vision - building Nabors Industries over his 24 year tenure there into the biggest company of its kind.

He had received an undergrad degree from UMass Amherst (in economics and not in business) and then went on to Princeton where he got a Master's degree.

He would say that Princeton has a big endowment and his funds could go further at UMass Amherst - something we are very much grateful for.

Bricks and mortar are not the only impact that the Isenbergs had on UMass Amherst. They also funded numerous scholarships and, most recently, one of my PhD students, Sara Saberi, was selected as one of ten recipients of the 2014 Isenberg Scholar Awards. There were 3 awardees from the Isenberg School this year.

This substantial financial fellowship promotes interdisciplinary research among science, engineering, and management - a theme that I love - and aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Gene, if I may, I thank you and your family for the legacy of yours that lives on through business education and also industrial innovation!

My deepest and sincerest condolences to the Isenberg family on this great loss.

The Isenberg School of Management posted this article on Mr. Isenberg's passing.

Palm Beach Post Obituary