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Gifts Help Plastics Go Green

Saab, Dandeneau Give Millions to Create Professorships

Chancellor Meehan, left, accepts two million-dollar checks for professorships in green plastics. Next to the chancellor, from left: Jim and Debbie Dandeneau, Elisia and Mark Saab, and Prof. Bob Malloy.

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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 Dandenau are longtime supporters of the University and both have 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 the former president and CEO of Putnam Plastics Corp. in Dayville, Conn., and is currently a director 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 medical devices, 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 previous gift funded the Mark Saab Advanced Polymers Physical and Rheological Properties Testing Laboratory ߞ; a teaching facility dedicated to polymer property evaluation ߞ; in 2004. He and his wife, Elisia, also established two scholarships for plastics engineering students. Saab received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007.

Under Jim Dandeneau’s leadership, Putnam Plastics became a national leader in specialty polymer-extrusion companies in 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 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, 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. Senior Director of Development John Davis says the goal is to add two more professorships using the Nantucket match money by the end of March.    

See more photos from the event.