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Alumni Gifts Help Plastics Program Go Green


Entrepreneurs Create Professorships with $1M Donations

LOWELL -- Two million-dollar gifts will help UMass Lowell advance the study of environmentally friendly plastics through teaching, research and laboratory experiences. Mark Saab ’81 and Jim Dandeneau ’80, both plastics engineering alumni, have each donated $1 million to fund two professorships in green plastics.

Each gift includes a $500,000 match from a $20 million state trust fund that supports the creation of endowments related to the environment. The fund was created in 2004 by the sale of 110 acres of land owned by the University of Massachusetts on Nantucket to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.

Saab and Dandeneau are long-time supporters of the University and both have previously funded scholarships, discretionary endowments and laboratory renovations to support UMass Lowell students. Saab, who lives in Lowell, is president, co-founder and co-owner of Advanced Polymers Inc., in Salem, N.H. Dandeneau, from Thompson, Conn., is founder and president of Putnam Plastics Corp. in Dayville, Conn., and serves on the board of directors of Memry Corp.

“These two successful, innovative alumni are not only leaders in their field, they are leaders in giving back to the University. We appreciate their support of the outstanding research work being done here, and their commitment to making a difference in the lives of students at the University,” says Chancellor Marty Meehan.

Saab has nearly 25 years of experience in the plastics industry, including 20 years in the medical device field, and holds more than 30 patents. His company, Advanced Polymers Inc., manufactures the world’s thinnest, strongest and smallest heat-shrink tubing and produces high- and low-pressure balloons for the medical device industry.

A 2004 gift funded the Mark Saab Advanced Polymers Physical and Rheological Properties Testing Laboratory ߝ a teaching facility dedicated to polymer property evaluation. He and his wife, Elisia, also established two scholarships, one for plastics engineering and the other for a student in any major. Saab received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007.

Under Dandeneau’s leadership, Putnam Plastics became a national leader among specialty polymer-extrusion companies for the medical device industry.  In 2004, 20 years after its founding, Putnam Plastics was acquired by Memry Corp.  Dandeneau was named a vice president of Memry Corp. and was subsequently elected to the company’s board of directors.

In 1999, Dandeneau created the Dandeneau Family Endowed Scholarship Program. He was inducted into the University’s Francis Academy of Distinguished Engineers. Putnam Plastics also funded the renovated the S.J. Chen Extrusion Laboratory in Plastics Engineering.

“UMass Lowell has been a leader in plastics engineering education and research for the past 50 years. These professorships will allow our department to embrace the next generation of technology, one that addresses the growing need for environmental sensitivity,” says Prof. Bob Malloy, chair of the Plastics Engineering Department.

Saab and Dandeneau were honored at a lunch on Thursday, Feb. 14 in Alumni Hall.

With an endowment such as those being funded by Saab and Dandeneau, the principal of a gift is invested in perpetuity and a portion of the annual interest is used by UMass Lowell for the purpose for which the fund was established. For these research professorships, the proceeds will be awarded on an annual basis to faculty who are teaching and researching green plastics. Endowed gifts are managed for UMass Lowell by the University of Massachusetts Foundation Inc.

These are the third and fourth professorships created at UMass Lowell. The other two are the Roy J. Zuckerberg Leadership Chair and the Howard P. Foley Endowed Professorship in workforce development.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health. UML offers its 11,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. .

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