Friday, September 16, 2016

Spectacular Groundbreaking Ceremony of the Isenberg School Business Innovation Hub on a Perfect Day

Today is a picture perfect day in September - simply beautiful and although it is a Friday it was especially busy. This morning I met with a student advisee, listened to one of our doctoral students deliver the oral component of her comprehensive exam for her PhD is Management Science, and then it was time for a quick lunch and the groundbreaking ceremony for the Business Innovation Hub for the Isenberg School of Management, a $62 million project, which has gotten a lot of press in The Boston Globe, in the Springfield Republican, and in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

On top of all the good news, one of my doctoral students, Shivani Shukla, heard from INFORMS that she was accepted into the Doctoral Colloquium that will take place at our annual INFORMS conference in Nashville in November and another doctoral student of mine, Deniz Besik, heard that our paper on food supply chains and quality with a focus on farmers' markets' was accepted for presentation at the INFORMS Computing conference, which will take place in Austin, Texas, in January 2017.

The setting for the groundbreaking ceremony today was the green outside of the Isenberg School and a big white tent was set up with a podium. Associate Dean Professor Lisa Masteralexis was the emcee for the event and the program is below. The program consisted of a terrific list of speakers from our Chancellor, to alums, government officials, and other special guests, and, of course, the Dean of the Isenberg School, Dr. Mark Fuller.
There were even treats for us to enjoy, thanks to Ken Toong, an Isenberg School MBA alum, without whom UMass Amherst would not have gotten the top ranking for university food in the USA!
One of the highlights today was meeting two of my former Operations Management students, who are very successful Isenberg School alums.
Below are some photos of our illustrious speakers and the emcee.
Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy is in the above photo. His enthusiasm for UMass and recognition of the terrific trajectory that the Isenberg School is on under Dean Mark Fuller were inspiring.
Stan Rosenberg, UMass alum '77, who is now President of the Massachusetts Senate, gave an uplifting presentation focusing on the great advances in infrastructure and research stature and prominence at UMass Amherst, the flagship campus, since he was a student. He has been  an amazing ambassador for UMass and the education of our students and we are very grateful to him.
Philip Johnston, '68, in the above photo, who is chair of the UMass building authority and a member of the UMass board of trustees emphasized how important buildings are.
Henry Thomas III, the former chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, also spoke. He has been President and CEO of the Urban League of Springfield since 1975.
Ed Shirley. '78, a major benefactor of the Isenberg School and very successful businessman, emphasized, as had our Chancellor, the great strides in rankings that the Isenberg School has experienced in the past few years. The school is now ranked first in the northeast among private universities for undergraduate business education. He, as others, also stressed the importance of philanthropy and private giving. He is a donor of a scholarship named after him and one of the young alum speakers, Martin Boyle, was a recipient of this scholarship.

I was also thrilled to hear him say that we should be grateful to the search committee for selecting Dr. Mark Fuller as our Isenberg Dean, who has held that leadership position for 8 years now. I told Mr. Shirley afterwards, that both the emcee, Associate Dean Lisa Masteralexis, and I had served on the search committee. In addition, my Marketing colleague, Professor Kathy Debevec Witz also had. Let me just say that this group of female professors had super insight and intuition in lobbying for Dr. Fuller! Coincidentally, Mr. Johnston had chaired the committee that brought Chancellor Subbaswamy to head the UMass Amherst campus 5 years ago, another great hire. Go UMass!

It was also very special to hear two of our recent alums, Stephanie Berenson '16, and Martin Boyle '15, speak. And, given the small world that Massachusetts is, Henry Thomas noted that he was in a study group when he was in law school with Martin Boyle's father, which was a neat connection. The love for the school exhibited by these alums was clear and they make the faculty and staff proud. Stephanie and Martin are in the photos above.
Then it was time for Dean Fuller to speak and he quipped that the Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Pilsner, will hear from him that he was last and had to follow so many great speakers today. What I appreciated very much in Dean Fuller's speech was his recognition of the importance not just of rankings but also of reputation plus he emphasized and thanked faculty and our wonderful students. He also reminisced his first conversation with our great benefactor after whom the school is named, Gene Isenberg, who stressed how any problem can be solved with education, including poverty, and Fuller noted that the most difficult problems require the best education. Dean Fuller holds the Thomas O'Brien endowed chaired professorship, named after our former dean, Dr. Tom O'Brien, who was a great friend of the Isenbergs. Dr. O'Brien also came to this event.

And, since this was a groundbreaking ceremony, there was a photo opportunity for hard hats and shovels.

Even the UMass mascot, Sam, the Minuteman, showed up for the event.
I also caught up with several colleagues as well as with our new Isenberg School head of development, Scott Benton, who just this past Tuesday, has dinner with my former doctoral student, Dr. Stavros Siokos, at the Royal Automobile Club in London. Stavros had hosted me and my family at the RAC last summer when I was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University for 2 and a half months.

And I received a souvenir of a t-shirt and hat. Our students were treated to ice cream of several flavors, including green tea and maple walnut,  and toppings.
It was a perfect day and I feel very lucky to be part of the great community and family that is the Isenberg School of Management!

Thanks also to the wonderful emcee that made the event flow beautifully, Associate Dean Lisa Masteralexis.

And for all those alums out there as well as interested parties and future students - you can view the progress of the construction via webcam, which is fun.