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UMass Lowell Names $80 Million Building in Honor of Alumnus, Wife

Lowell Couple, Entrepreneurs Leading Supporters as University Giving Increases

UMass Lowell Image
Chancellor Marty Meehan, left, stands with Elisia and Mark Saab below the newly unveiled name of the university's $80 million academic building.


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LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell announced today that its new, $80 million Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center has been named in tribute to distinguished alumnus Mark Saab ’81 and his wife Elisia.

The naming recognizes the Saabs for a new multimillion-dollar commitment to UMass Lowell that will make the couple the largest individual donors to the university.

The Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center is a dynamic hub for cutting-edge advances in nanotechnology, nanomedicine, molecular biology, plastics engineering and optics, furthering fields such as life sciences, energy, national security, environmental protection and more. The name was unveiled on the building’s exterior for the Saabs by UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan at a dedication ceremony Saturday, Dec. 8 that was attended by UMass Trustee Norman Peters, chairman of the Board of Trustees Advancement Committee; UMass Student Trustee Phillip Geoffroy, a UMass Lowell student from Chelmsford; and UMass Lowell administrators, faculty, staff and students. 

The Saabs’ latest gift to the building, combined with their previous support, makes them the largest individual donors to UMass Lowell. The Saabs are members of the university’s Circle of Distinction, which recognizes donors of $1 million or more. This distinguished group now has 13 members. Over the last six years, UMass Lowell has secured $75 million in private gifts and pledges, helping the university break its previous fundraising records. For the second consecutive year, the university has secured a record number of private donations and pledges, boosting student scholarships and endowment funds by 16 percent over last year, extending an upward trend since 2010. 

“The Saabs’ generous support of the university enhances the work of faculty researchers and industry partners, opening up new worlds of discovery for our students,” Meehan said. “The Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center is now a part of the couple’s legacy. This state-of-the-art building exemplifies the university’s role as a pioneer and international leader in education and manufacturing technology. We are tremendously grateful to the Saabs for their commitment to UMass Lowell and their vision for its future.” 

“I have always felt strongly about giving back to UMass Lowell and being involved in the plastics engineering program. I’m grateful for the specialized education that has led to my success and I want to help today’s students discover the path to their own future,” said Mark Saab. “The research at the center will have a great impact on science and engineering industries regionally, nationally and internationally. We are excited to support the center, an endeavor that will have positive effects for the plastics industry, students and the local community.”

The gift from the Saabs will help equip the center and endow its research and development initiatives. The donation anchors the more than $10 million in private donations the science and technology center has received to date – the largest amount of private funds raised in university history for a single project. 

“The faculty, students and staff of UMass Lowell’s Plastics Engineering Department cannot thank Mark and Elisia Saab enough for their continued and extremely generous support,” said Prof. Robert Malloy, department chairman. “Their support for this building will take our ability to conduct materials and manufacturing research to a new level. Our ability to innovate and compete internationally would not be possible without such an amazing science and engineering center.” 

A portion of the Saabs’ gift will also endow a fellowship in Portuguese studies at the university.

“I am personally committed to growing opportunities within the local Portuguese community,” said Elisia Saab. “There is a large and vibrant local Portuguese population and the UMass Lowell fellowship will enrich local Portuguese studies, assist community members in gaining a deeper understanding of this culture and help the Portuguese community to preserve its heritage.”

Mark Saab graduated from UMass Lowell in 1981 with a degree in plastics engineering. He is president of Advanced Polymers Inc., of Salem, N.H., a manufacturing company he co-founded with Elisia Saab that produces products and components for the medical device industry. With more than 25 years in the plastics field, he has secured more that 30 patents and was honored with UMass Lowell’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. The couple lives in Lowell.

Longtime UMass Lowell benefactors, the Saabs’ gifts include endowing scholarship funds for plastics engineering majors, students of Portuguese descent and students who are the sons and daughters of Advanced Polymers employees. In 2008, the couple established a new UMass Lowell professorship that is awarded to faculty who are advancing the study of environmentally friendly plastics through teaching, research and laboratory experiences. Other gifts from the couple have supported the Mark A. Saab Advanced Polymers Properties Testing Laboratory and new equipment and materials for the Plastics Engineering Department.     

Over the last 18 months, UMass Lowell has named three academic buildings and one of its schools in honor of alumni benefactors and their spouses, in recognition of their commitment to the university. In addition to the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, those are Perry Hall, in honor of alumnus Barry Perry ’68 and his wife Janice; the Manning School of Business, for Rob Manning ’84 and ’11H and Donna Manning ’85, ’91 and ’11H; and the forthcoming Pulichino Tong Business Building, for alumnus John Pulichino ’67 and his wife Joy Tong.   

The Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center opened on Oct. 11 during a ceremony attended by more than 600 people including Gov. Deval Patrick, industry leaders, public officials and UMass Lowell alumni, students, faculty and staff. The 84,000-square-foot center – the gateway to the transformation now under way on UMass Lowell’s North Campus – is the first new academic building constructed from the ground up at the university in more than three decades. 

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 16,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.