By Beth Brosnan
UMass Lowell’s first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign, Our Legacy, Our Place, has surpassed its $125 million goal more than 18 months ahead of schedule, thanks to a new, $5 million commitment from alumnus Brian Rist — the single largest gift in university history.
Rist, who received a degree in business administration and operations management from UMass Lowell, is the founder of Storm Smart, Florida’s largest hurricane protection company.
“I wanted to thank the university for putting me on the road to where I am today, and make those same opportunities available to even more people,” said Rist, whose gift will support student scholarships and other initiatives.
“Brian’s generosity will have a tremendous impact on our students,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney. “That’s the power of ‘our place’—this determination to help new generations succeed, because we all share the same story.”
Our Legacy, Our Place was launched to support the dramatic growth UMass Lowell has experienced over the past decade, by raising $125 million by 2020 for student scholarships, faculty recruitment and research, campus improvements and the new Division I athletics program.
In all, more than 32,000 donors — alumni, faculty, staff, students, family members, and corporate and community partners — have made gifts to the campaign between 2013 and 2018, said Vice Chancellor for Advancement John Feudo.
“Our donors completely exceeded our expectations, with their enthusiasm as well as their financial support,” said Feudo. “They know that by supporting UMass Lowell, they’re investing not only in the success of our students, but also in research and economic development whose impact is felt well beyond our region.”
Gifts to the campaign have:
- More than doubled the campus' endowment to $84.7 million;
- Increased the number of endowed scholarships and faculty research funds to more than 520;
- Helped fund the remarkable transformation of the UMass Lowell campus, including facilities like University Crossing student center (2014), the Pulichino Tong Business Center (spring 2017) and the River Hawk Village residence hall (fall 2017);
- Supported entrepreneurial initiatives like the Innovation Hub and Fabric Discovery Center;
- Ensured UMass Lowell’s successful transition to Division I athletics with scholarships and academic support programs for student-athletes.
Meeting the campaign goal is a “true cause for celebration,” Moloney said, adding that “we have a lot of important work still to do.” That includes the renovation of Coburn Hall, the oldest and most iconic building on the UMass Lowell campus, and putting a bigger dent in student loan debt. Almost one-third of UMass Lowell students receiving financial aid come from families with household incomes of $30,000 or less, and many are the first in their families to attend college.
That’s why the university is launching a second phase for Our Legacy, Our Place: 125 and Rising, a push to raise an additional $25 million by 2020, when UMass Lowell will celebrate its 125th anniversary. “We’re going to work a little harder and give back a little more,” said Moloney.
For more information, visit www.uml.edu/ourlegacy-ourplace.