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Retiring Business Professors Leave Lasting Legacy

Manning School Honors Stuart Freedman, Deborah Finch and Jack Wilson

People stand and applaud for a man who is sitting at a table Photo by Ed Brennen
Retiring Management Department Chair Stuart Freedman receives a standing ovation from his Manning School colleagues at the year-end faculty meeting at Saab ETIC.

By Ed Brennen

The Manning School of Business recently recognized three retiring faculty members with a combined 70 years of teaching, research and leadership at the university.

Management Department Chair Stuart Freedman was celebrated at the Manning School’s year-end faculty meeting, along with Assoc. Teaching Prof. Deborah Finch ’03, ’05, ’12 and UMass President Emeritus Jack Wilson ’19 (H), both from the Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEI) Department.

“Their influence on the school will last for decades,” said Dean of Business Sandra Richtermeyer. “We treasure having them as colleagues and we admire them as professors. They have impacted so many lives through their teaching and leadership.”

After earning a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Cornell University, Freedman joined UMass Lowell in 1979. During his 43-year career in the Manning School, he spent more than two decades as management chair and was part of the team that helped the school achieve accreditation.

“If I had to build a career again, I would do the same thing,” said Freedman, who has taught courses in organizational behavior, leadership processes and more. “This has been a wonderful place to work. I’ve had a great group of colleagues who’ve got everything it takes to build not just a first-class department, but a first-class university.”

People stand and applaud for a man who is sitting at a table Photo by Ed Brennen
Retiring MEI Prof. Jack Wilson, president emeritus of the UMass system, receives a standing ovation from Manning School colleagues at Saab ETIC.
Originally from Hudson, N.H., Finch is a Triple River Hawk – she earned her bachelor’s in business administration in 2003, her MBA in 2005 and her doctorate of education in 2012. She  joined the Manning School as a lecturer in 2008 after spending more than three years as assistant director of UML’s K-12 Educational Outreach program.

In addition to helping create a Business 101 course for freshmen, Finch served as director of First-Year Experience for the Manning School, mentored business students in the Honors College, and was an advisor for the Business Innovation Living and Learning Community and a faculty fellow for the DifferenceMaker program. During the pandemic, she published a book on social media marketing for nonprofits. 

Finch earned 13 teaching awards over the past decade, including the 2018 Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching and the 2018 Jacqueline F. Moloney Honors College Founder’s Award.

“She put her whole heart into teaching and mentoring our students,” said MEI Chair Yi Yang. “She tried to ensure that freshmen quickly adapted to college life and, more importantly, helped them develop into lifelong active learners with an entrepreneurial mindset.”

Wilson is a Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, Emerging Technologies, & Innovation. His academic career spans more than 50 years, starting when he was an assistant professor of physics at Kent State University in 1972. As a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1993, he founded iLinc, a pioneering video conferencing software company.

A person cuts a cake that says "best wishes Deb, Jack and Stu" Photo by Ed Brennen
A Manning School staff member cuts a cake in honor of retiring faculty members Stuart Freedman, Jack Wilson and Deborah Finch.
After becoming the founding CEO of UMass Online in 2001, Wilson was named the 25th president of the UMass system in 2003, a position he held for eight years.

He joined UML in 2012, serving as interim dean of the Francis College of Engineering before becoming a member of the MEI faculty and creating the Jack M. Wilson Center for Entrepreneurship

“It feels good to be retiring, but it also feels a little daunting,” Wilson said. “I decided when I was 12 years old that I wanted to be a university professor. Next year, for the first time, I probably won’t be teaching students. I know I’m going to miss it a lot. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family, but boy, am I going to miss the students.”

Assoc. Dean of Business Jennifer Percival was also recognized at the meeting. She has been named the new dean of the Schmidthorst College of Business at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.