Thursday, December 4, 2014

Magnificent Tribute to Mr. Gene M. Isenberg After Whom the Isenberg School of Management is Named

Today, we had the honor and privilege of taking part in a tribute to Mr. Gene M. Isenberg after whom our School of Management is named because of the immense gift that he gave in the late 1990s. Mr. Isenberg passed away in March 2014.

I have posted the program below, which included remarks from both our present Dean, Dr. Mark Fuller,  our former Dean, Dr. Tom O'Brien,  who was instrumental in securing the financial gift, as well as our present Chancellor, Dr. Kumble Subbaswamy, and our former Chancellor, Dr. John  Lombardi.
Dean Fuller spoke about being the first in his family to go to college and how Isenberg valued resilience, persistence, and tenacity, which are characteristics of our students, many of whom are also first generation college students. In addition, he emphasized our students' exemplary work ethic. Dr. O'Brien provided a vivid historical perspective on how the philanthropy of the Isenberg family has stimulated others to give to the Isenberg School and UMass Amherst. Our beautiful building addition, constructed during Dean O'Brien's twenty year period as Dean, with high technology classrooms, breakout rooms, new offices, and the atrium provide an environment in which we can collaborate and work together. Dr.. Lombardi's speech was rousing and energizing and I could hear echoes of "Go UMass!" over the years that he served as our outstanding Chancellor. Chancellor Subbaswamy was gracious and his speech was warm and heartfelt. It was wonderful to see everyone stay for the reception that followed.
In addition, we had the pleasure of hearing very moving speeches as to the impact of the Isenbergs' philanthropy on education, from a present doctoral student at UMass, Sandra Roy, who has formed her biopharma company, as well as from an Isenberg alum, Brian Tino.

By video, Anthony Petrello, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Nabors Industries, also spoke.and emphasized the leadership of Mr. Isenberg throughout his 25 years at Nabors Industries and how he turned the company around as its CEO and Chairman of the Board. He noted how much Isenberg valued the importance of people and the team in addition to the work ethic for success.

Isenberg's advice on success was commented on several times - including to make sure  that you do what you love, which I completely agree with.

The Isenberg School also showed a video in which several administrators paid tribute along with several students and Mrs. Ronnie Isenberg reflected on the amazing man that her husband was.

In the audience, were: Mrs. Ronnie Isenberg, her daughter, Dina and husband, and their three children who live in Wales (yes, across the Atlantic Ocean), along with many invited guests, faculty, staff, and students. The Isenberg grandchildren spoke lovingly of their grandfather who liked to be called "papa." I had the most enjoyable conversation at the reception in our atrium afterwards, with Stefan, one of the two grandsons. He had recently graduated from Oxford University in England and I marveled at my luck and serendipity because, just a short while ago, I was informed that I was selected to be a Fellow at Oxford for a term for next year! And, yes, Stefan has even appeared (in the background) in several PBS Inspector Morse episodes, which are filmed in Oxford. His brother and sister are studying medicine in England in Southampton and Birmingham.

It was very special to be able to speak to Mrs. Ronnie Isenberg and to reminisce about Gene.

There was a red carpet leading to the Flavin Auditorium where the tribute took place and both our atrium and the walkway with the carpet were decorated with beautiful plants.

  Below are photos that I took at the reception today.

I have written on several occasions about the Isenbergs on this blog and the impact that they have had on our school, on UMass Amherst, and on our students. Gene truly valued education and the difference that education can make in the lives of people.  He also astutely recognized the importance of synergies among business, science, and engineering, a model that I love. He endowed 3 chaired professorships and numerous scholarships at UMass Amherst. One of my doctoral students, Sara Saberi, this year became an Isenberg Scholar. She is with me in the photo below.

I also very fondly remember Mr. Gene Isenberg's sense of humor. And as Dr. Lombardi said he did not suffer fools gladly.

The Isenbergs were married for 62 years and their legacy is treendous.

We thank them.