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College of Engineering Raises More Than $34.6 Million During UMass Rising Campaign

People in dressed in maroon organized into groups to spell UMass on a field

When the UMass Rising campaign began in 2010, the College of Engineering set its sights on raising $33 million to support talented students, first-class faculty, buildings and infrastructure, research and programs, and the Annual Fund. By the time the campaign ended on June 30 this year, the college had exceeded that ambitious goal, achieving a total of $34,618,236 in gifts and commitments from alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, friends, corporations, and foundations.

“Our loyal and generous alumni and friends made this campaign a great success,” said Amy Schrom, the executive director of development at the college. “They recognize that we have really strong leadership here, and are confident that the college is on a positive trajectory. The alumni trust that the administration and faculty will invest their gifts wisely.”

Over 6,630 donors contributed to the campaign and 4,239 of those were alumni. All these dedicated donors more than answered the original appeal of UMass Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy: “UMass Amherst’s College of Engineering has been a leader in engineering education, research, and service to the profession and to our world. With your help, we will continue our efforts to attract and develop the highest quality faculty and students to fortify a supportive and innovative teaching, learning, and working environment. The college is the highest ranked public engineering institution in New England–our goal is to ensure its continued ascent.”

The infusion of support through the campaign has given the college a foundation on which to build for the future. It will go from strength to greater strength in the coming years.

“The level of funding we received for the ‘support talented students’ component was truly impressive,” said Schrom. “That mostly translates to scholarships and financial aid. We received nearly $7.7 million for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowship awards.” About midway through the campaign, the university launched the Community Scholarship Program, providing scholarships for students who are either the first in their family to go to college or are members of underrepresented populations. “That initiative really moved people, because a lot of alumni come from those backgrounds. They say, ‘I was supported by scholarships; now I want to give back.’”

Such scholarships are near and dear to the heart of College of Engineering Dean Tim Anderson. “In its role as a land-grant university, UMass Amherst embraces its responsibility to provide a superior education, regardless of a student’s socioeconomic status. Since financial need was a burden for me when I attended college, I especially appreciate access to a fine public education,” Anderson said. “Here at the College of Engineering, we’re proud to educate our future technical leaders, regardless of their roots, background, or income.”

Several new endowed scholarships were created during the campaign, creating funding to support engineering students for generations to come. Longtime donors Mark Bradley’79 (ChE) and June Wispelwey created an award in chemical engineering, and the Bill Kamienski Scholarship Endowment was established by Dr. Paul Kamienski’69 (ChE) in memory of his father. To honor a former professor and mentor, Thomas J. Laramee ’94, ’97MS (MIE) endowed the Al Russell Memorial Scholarship in mechanical engineering, while the Devendra Y. Raut’97MS (ECE) Fund for Entrepreneurship supports a senior who will pursue graduate study in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).

“The other area where we received a great deal of support, as the department heads will tell you, has been research and program funding,” said Schrom. The college reached 159 percent of its research-funding goal of $8 million, receiving $12,730,355.

Investment in key research centers and initiatives will stimulate advanced work in current and emerging issues in all areas of engineering. Support for research, assistantships, infrastructure, and training within existing programs and projects as well as those yet to be conceived is crucial to the college’s ongoing impact in the Commonwealth and beyond. Research support enables us to recruit the finest graduate students and drive their professional development. All this leads to groundbreaking innovation.

In support of our first-class faculty, three new endowed professorships have been established at the college. John and Elizabeth Armstrong (both honorary UMass alumni) joined with Barry Siadat ’79PhD (ChE) and Afsaneh Siadat to create an endowed professorship in the area of materials science in the Department of Chemical Engineering (ChE). The Massachusetts Department of Energy established the Chair in Renewable Energy in the College of Engineering. A bequest commitment by Edward C. Gray’73 (ECE) and Cindy Gray will create the William W. Boyer Endowed Professorship in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE).

Schrom called these three endowments “remarkable,” and went on to acknowledge that our great need in this area still makes it a top priority going forward. As Dean Anderson explained, “The creation of endowed professorships must be a priority beyond our UMass Rising campaign. They remain the best method of recruiting gifted scholars, retaining our most talented young professors, supporting graduate students, and affording all of them freedom to pursue groundbreaking research.”

A number of major gifts to all departments at the college further demonstrated the extraordinary generosity of our donors. In CEE, the Robert B. Brack Structural Outdoor Testing Facility and the Richard W. Boyle Strength of Materials Laboratory vastly improved research capacity. Lead donor Saint-Gobain Corporation established an annual memorial lecture fund in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) in the name of Stephen Malkin, a revered professor in the department. Carl R. Christenson’82 (MIE) and Kimberlee B. Christenson provided the lead gift for MIE’s Altra Industrial Motion Innovation Shop. Kevin Ferreira’07 (CHE) spearheaded a successful effort to raise funds to update the chemical engineering senior lab, with support from fellow Exxon Mobil alumni of UMass Amherst. Dr. Kumar N. Ganapathy’90 MS (ECE) supported both the Innovation Challenge and a graduate fellowship award for ECE. These are just a few of the visionary gifts the college received during the campaign.

“Most of the priorities we identified for this campaign remained pressing needs for the college over the six years of the campaign,” said Schrom. “The only need that became more urgent, in a sense, was necessitated by our growing enrollment. Since 2010, enrollment at the college has jumped from 2,045 undergraduate and graduate students to 2,566 now. We have not been able to keep up in terms of faculty and facilities. These will continue to be our major needs going forward.”

The overwhelming success of this comprehensive campaign is mostly due to the affection and esteem of our alumni for the College of Engineering. As Schrom said, “Alumni talk about their gratitude for the scholarships that supported them when they were here. They remember the mentoring they received from faculty. Donors point to those things as having shaped who they are today. And, they want to give back to today’s and tomorrow’s students.” (August 2016)