By Ed Brennen
“We did it.”
Kathryn Carter, former dean of the Manning School of Business, smiled proudly as she said the words to hundreds of students, faculty, staff and distinguished guests gathered on North Campus to commemorate the official opening of the $47 million Pulichino Tong Business Center.
While everyone basked in the glow of the moment, celebrated on a picture-perfect morning on the new building’s spacious Grande-Tomaney Innovation Plaza, Carter’s words were directed in particular at the small team of people who began working toward that specific day more than a decade ago.
People like Professor Emeritus Stuart Mandell, who joined the university in 1948 and founded the College of Management in 1971 — back when the university was dominated by the engineering and science schools and the business students “made do with what we had.”
“This is the culmination of a life’s dream,” Mandell said after helping to cut the ribbon on the four-story, 54,800-square-foot building, where Manning School students will take their finals this spring and where classes will begin this summer.
Perched prominently on the corner of University Avenue and Riverside Street, the glass and steel structure features 10 classrooms wired with the latest audio-visual technology, a state-of-the-art trading room with two dozen Bloomberg terminals and multiple collaboration spaces scattered across all four floors that provide sweeping views of North and East campuses and the city beyond.
The university named the building in honor of alumnus John Pulichino ’67 and his wife Joy Tong, successful entrepreneurs who in 2012 committed more than $4 million in scholarship funds for Manning School students. Fifty years after earning a degree in industrial management from Lowell Technological Institute, Pulichino marveled that his family’s name was now on a business center that will serve students for generations to come.
“This is a wonderful day for UMass Lowell and a special day for the Manning School of Business,” Pulichino said. “But most importantly, it’s a day for those students who will now have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and aspirations in a facility that is clearly second to none.”
Recalling her life experience as a Chinese immigrant who established herself as a businesswoman in America, Tong expressed hope that the new building would inspire more women to pursue business degrees.
“We are in an era of change, and within the walls of this new business center, dedicated faculty are educating the business leaders of tomorrow, creating a strong pipeline of amazing talent to ensure that competence will always take precedence over race and gender,” she said.
A designer by trade, Tong paid close attention to many of the building’s aesthetic details. Standing in the bright and airy Colella Atrium that she helped design, Tong explained her choice of the bold orange color of the building’s zig-zagging staircase and first-floor hallway connecting to Lydon Library.
“Orange always makes people more energized, and so I wanted students to have that feeling coming into the building,” she said. “Maybe you didn’t sleep too well the night before, or in the winter it’s kind of depressed and dreary. So you come to this building, and you feel alive. That’s how I feel.”
UMass President Marty Meehan, who was chancellor at the university when the project took root, noted the importance of the business center serving as a bookend with the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center to form the North Campus Innovation District.
“It’s smart, it’s innovative and it distinguishes us from other universities — not only across New England, but throughout the country,” said Meehan, who recognized state Rep. Brian Dempsey ’99 of Haverhill for helping the university secure $25 million in state bond funding toward the building’s construction, as well as the work of the state Department of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM).
Designed by Cambridge Seven Associates, the building is expected to receive LEED Silver-Plus certification, with sustainability features that include occupancy sensors and daylight harvesting, “chilled beams” for heating and cooling, and a solar wall to preheat the intake air.
While the university has opened 13 buildings over the past eight years, including three new academic structures over the past five years, Chancellor Jacquie Moloney said the Pulichino Tong Business Center is special.
“More than any other building that we’ve added to this campus, this was built on an extraordinary passion of our alumni and their commitment to realizing our vision to make this university one of the best in the country,” said Moloney, who thanked many of the alumni and friends of the university who supported the project, including:
- Nancy Donahue, who made a $1 million gift in memory of her husband Dick Donahue for the Richard and Nancy Donahue Center for Business Ethics & Social Responsibility;
- UMass President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor Jack Wilson, who created an endowment to support the Jack M. Wilson Center for Entrepreneurship;
- Alumni Joyce Colella ’77 and Jerry Colella ’78, who underwrote support for the Colella Atrium;
- and alum Richard Grande ’72, ’80, who provided funding for the Lucian and Josephine Grande & Francis and Nora Tomaney Innovation Plaza.
Both Moloney and Meehan thanked the business school’s namesake, Rob Manning ’84, and his wife Donna Manning ’85, ’91 for their continued support of various university initiatives and scholarships.
Rebecca Foley, a business administration major from Acton who will graduate in December, said students can’t wait to work on group projects, hold club meetings or just explore the new building.
“This is much more than a beautiful building. It is an inviting, vibrant space that will promote innovative collaboration and learning between faculty and students, which, to me, is what UMass Lowell is all about,” said Foley, a recipient of the Pulichino Tong Family Foundation Scholarship.
Sandy Richtermeyer, who became dean of the Manning School last year, expressed her gratitude to all those who helped lay the building’s foundation.
Richtermeyer said that while students and faculty are thrilled about their new classrooms, trading room and the eye-catching stock ticker in the atrium, “We’re most excited about all the great memories that will be formed by our students and faculty as they make this college their home base for learning and advancing their knowledge and skills.”
After the ribbon cutting, Mandell headed up to the second-floor Stuart L. Mandell and Ada Mandell Dean’s Suite. Surrounded by a dozen family members — including 11-day-old great-granddaughter Sienna Rose — the business school’s founder watched with pride as visitors toured the building for the first time.
“It’s really great,” he said. “A dream come true.”