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Robert and Donna Manning Support Future of Business Education with $10M UMass Lowell Gift

With Alumni Gift and Chancellor’s Donation, Record $23M in UML Philanthropic Support in Last Week

Robert and Donna Manning at the ceremony Photo by Tory Germann
A $10 million gift from Rob and Donna Manning will endow five new faculty chairs in the Manning School of Business and the home of much of the university’s health educational efforts will be renamed the Donna M. Manning Health and Social Sciences Building.


Contact for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944,

LOWELL, Mass. – Every individual who has won — or lost — in the world of business knows past success is no guarantee of future performance.

A $10 million gift from UMass Lowell alumni Robert J. ’84, ’11 (H) and Donna M. ’85, ’91 ’11 (H) Manning announced today will ensure business students are learning from renowned faculty focused on new and innovative approaches to business, and not just current trends. 

Five new endowed faculty chairs will be created in the Manning School of Business to recruit outstanding faculty in areas including finance, entrepreneurship, marketing and emerging disciplines such as data analytics. Additionally, the home of much of the university’s health educational efforts will be renamed the Donna M. Manning Health and Social Sciences Building.

“The limitless generosity of Rob and Donna Manning has been transformational for UMass Lowell students in business and nursing in providing them the technology and educational experiences unavailable to their peers across the country,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney. “They are enabling our students to accelerate from Lowell to become leaders in their fields and in their communities.”

UMass President Marty Meehan said the Mannings’ gift would help students follow the couple’s path to success.

“Rob and Donna have spoken frequently about how they struggled financially as students at UMass Lowell, but persevered because they recognized the importance and value of the education they were receiving,” Meehan said. “Having personally experienced the transformational impact UMass Lowell faculty have on students, Rob and Donna have committed themselves to supporting both faculty and students at UMass Lowell, and this extraordinary gift is yet another example of that commitment.”

Rob Manning is chairman of MFS Investment Management and the long-time chair of the UMass Board of Trustees. Over his career at MFS, he rose to become president, CEO and then chair. Under his leadership, MFS has grown to manage more than $670 billion in assets annually. He will retire this year. Donna Manning retired in 2018 after a 35-year career as an oncology nurse at Boston Medical Center.

Their $10 million gift to UMass Lowell is a distribution from a $50 million cash gift to the five-campus UMass system announced last month. The couple has previously donated more than $11 million to UMass Lowell to fund student scholarships, create the Donna Manning Endowed Faculty Chair for Nursing and establish a high-tech nursing simulation laboratory in her name. 

The Manning School of Business, which bears their name, is enrolling more students than at any time in its history, including a record number of MBA students. The university finalized the construction of the new Pulichino Tong Business Center for the school in 2017.

“We look forward to remaining active in the UMass Lowell community and in the programs we’ve supported,” said Donna Manning. 

“Our UMass Lowell education created opportunities in our lives that we never would have imagined when we were students 40 years ago,” Robert Manning said. “It’s our hope that these gifts provide the tools, the mentors and the education that today’s students need to achieve their own dreams.”

The gift from the Mannings follows the university’s recent announcement that nearly $12 million will be donated to UMass Lowell from the Independent University Alumni Association at Lowell to fund student scholarships.

Moloney and her husband, Ed, also used Homecoming Week and the university’s annual Celebration of Philanthropy event to announce they would increase their personal giving to UMass Lowell to $1 million, including funding a new Institute for Social Impact to provide student fellowships to support community engagement.

The Moloneys have given generously during her 37-year career at UMass Lowell for student scholarships as well as in support of the Honors College and other university initiatives. As chancellor since 2015 and executive vice chancellor for the eight years prior to that, Moloney has been a transformational leader, pioneering the university’s entrepreneurship and sustainability efforts and elevating UMass Lowell to the national stage.

The combined gifts represent a record $23 million in philanthropic support to the university in just the last week.

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, 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 leaders in their communities and around the globe.