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UMass Lowell Alumnus, Wife Donate $4 Million for Student Scholarships

University to Name New Business School Building to Honor Donors

UMass Lowell Image
John Pulichino '67 and Joy Tong have donated $4 million for student scholarships.


Contacts: Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944

LOWELL, Mass. – Student scholarships at UMass Lowell will get a $4 million boost thanks to a generous donation from an alumnus and his wife, successful entrepreneurs, for whom the university’s new business school building will be named.  

The university announced today the new building will be named for John Pulichino ’67 and Joy Tong. To give back to his alma mater amid their highly successful business careers, Pulichino and Tong recently created the Pulichino/Tong Family Foundation scholarship fund for students in UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business, which will be housed in the new building. 

This is the 12th donation of more than $1 million to UMass Lowell since 2007. Annual fundraising is up 84 percent to $15.2 million, with $62 million in gifts and pledges raised in the last five years.

“We are extremely grateful for John and Joy’s commitment to making a top-tier business education affordable and accessible for UMass Lowell students,” Chancellor Marty Meehan said. “The Pulichino/Tong Business Building and the scholarship fund will serve as enduring legacies for this generous couple, who are creating opportunities for future generations to succeed.”

Pulichino is the chief executive officer of Group III International Ltd., a global company founded in 1984 by Tong, an industrial designer who is the company’s creative director. Group III began as a small boutique wholesale company that marketed fashion and travel bags. Based in Florida where the couple lives, today the company manufactures and markets travel gear products under the Wenger Swiss Army Knife trademark and other private-label brands. Distributing more than 60 products through Target stores alone, Group III has generated more than $400 million in sales since 2003. 

The couple’s gift comes a year after a multimillion-dollar donation from alumni Robert and Donna Manning that launched the effort to construct a new building to house what was renamed the Manning School of Business. Having that new home named the Pulichino/Tong Business Building is “an honor,” Pulichino said. Providing educational opportunities for students in an inclusive, dynamic environment is what motivates the couple to be UMass Lowell benefactors.

“The biggest reward will be to see deserving students graduate from the business school with the assistance of our scholarship fund,” Pulichino said.
Pulichino will be a featured speaker during the university’s Commencement Eve celebration to benefit student scholarships on Friday, May 25. Last year’s event raised more than $670,000. The next day, he will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award during UMass Lowell’s 2012 Commencement exercises that also feature U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar as speaker. For the fifth year in a row, a record number of students – approximately 2,900 – will receive their degrees in ceremonies that day.

Prior to joining Group III, Pulichino served as president and chief executive officer of American Tourister, where he grew company sales from $30 million to $150 million before the company was sold to Samsonite in 1993. In the 1970s, he gained his career footing in industrial engineering, planning and marketing at Polaroid Corp. 

Pulichino, who also holds a master’s degree in engineering management, earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial management at Lowell Technological Institute, a UMass Lowell predecessor institution. A member of the Chancellor’s External Advisory Task Force, Pulichino also serves on the Manning School of Business Advisory Board and the building committee that will oversee the Pulichino/Tong Business Building construction.

Tong is widely recognized as one of the leading creative forces in the travel goods industry. The holder of numerous patents, she is the only recipient of the Industrial Designers Society of America’s Gold Award for luggage design. Born and raised in Taiwan, Tong’s parents fled mainland China during the Communist revolution. After earning a bachelor’s degree at the World School of Journalism in Taipei, Tong worked in publishing with McGraw Hill in Singapore before coming to the United States to teach in the Linguistics Department at Cornell University. She moved to New York City to enter a retail management program at Bloomingdale’s and began her career in consumer marketing and fashion design, moving on to positions with Procter & Gamble and Johnson Matthey Corp.’s Bag Lab, before founding Group III.

UMass Lowell is a comprehensive, national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 15,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, engineering, education, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, liberal arts, 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.