Manning School’s Virtual Beam Signing Draws Alumni and Donations

Virtual signatures have been added to a beam in the Pulichino Tong Business Center
Members of the Manning School of Business Advisory Board tour the Pulichino Tong Business Center construction site, where virtual signatures have been added to a ceremonial beam.

By Ed Brennen

Dan Grealish graduated from the Manning School of Business in 2014, one year before ground was broken on the school’s future home, the Pulichino Tong Business Center.

But thanks to a virtual beam signing webpage set up Web Services, Grealish was able to leave his mark on the new building — and feel a sense of connection to his alma mater.

“I felt as if it was part of my legacy at UMass Lowell to have my name up in the new business building, where future students will get to learn and grow just like I did not too long ago,” says Grealish, who now works as a compensation analyst for Cengage Learning in Boston. “I have a lot of pride for UMass Lowell, and to be able to even have the opportunity like that is very special to me.”

This is the second time the university has provided a virtual beam signing for a new campus building, the first being for University Crossing in 2013. Students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members who visit the webpage can sign their name using their desktop computer mouse, or their fingertip on a smartphone or tablet.

“It’s much better on the mobile experience, since you have more control,” says Gerry Nelson, executive director of web services, whose team of Allen Williamson, Mark Field, Sam Diep and Ferney Lopez developed the web application. In 2014 they shared the application information with UMass Boston, which created its own version for the new construction of a new academic building.

A new fundraising component was added to the Pulichino Tong Business Center virtual beam signing, whereby anyone who signed and made a minimum $5 donation by March 31 would have their signature printed on a sticker and affixed to the beam. Visitors to the website can still add their signatures to the online version.

Of the 673 people who signed online by March 31, 91 made donations totaling $839. Those signatures were applied to a first-floor beam in the building, which is scheduled to open in spring of 2017.

Rudy Baez, a Double River Hawk who earned his bachelor of business administration from the Manning School in 2013 and his master of education from the Graduate School of Education in 2015, took part in three different beam signing events as a student. Now that he works at Virginia Commonwealth University as athletic marketing assistant, he appreciates his alma matter’s use of technology to keep him connected.

“Even though I’m living in Virginia, it still gives me the chance to be part of the amazing legacy we are building at UMass Lowell,” Baez says. “This is a very innovative way to connect with all alumni, past and present.”

Grealish, who heard about the virtual beam signing from one his Sigma Phi Omicron fraternity brothers, says he enjoyed scrolling through the signatures online to look for names he recognized.

“I looked for classmates, and especially my fraternity brothers and our letters,” says Grealish, who “absolutely” plans to visit the new Pulichino Tong Business Center once it opens. “I'm still very much involved on campus through several groups and activities, so I’m sure I'll be making a pit stop to check it out.”