Bequest of $2.5 Million from Alumna Mildred Barber will Establish Economics Chair at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts alumna Mildred Barber, a former economist with the U.S. Department of Labor for 30 years, has bequeathed $2.5 million to the University for the creation of a chair in economics named after her mother, Helen Sheridan. The Barber gift was announced today by Chancellor David K. Scott, at the fall meeting of the University of Massachusetts Foundation at Amherst.

In announcing the gift, Scott recalled his "lively discussions" with Barber in Washington. "She spoke passionately about our economics department, the people in it, and the difference it made in her own extraordinary and pioneering career. Through this generous bequest, her spirit will live on and make a difference in the lives of students in generations to come," he said.

The bequest was made to Campaign UMass, the campus''s first-ever comprehensive campaign to raise $125 million, enlist advocates, and enhance the image of the University. Royster Hedgepeth, vice chancellor for University Advancement, said, "Through her generosity, Mildred Barber has insured the University''s ability to attract and retain a preeminent economics faculty member to challenge our students and lead our research efforts."

With the Barber gift, the total amount raised for Campaign UMass to date is $122.1 million, according to Hedgepeth, who also announced he expects the campaign goals to be reached by the end of December, one year ahead of schedule.

Barber died Oct. 6 at the age of 78. A Boston native, she received a bachelor''s degree in economics from the University in 1943. She simultaneously earned both a master''s degree from Harvard Business School and a law degree from Boston College Law School in 1945. Barber began a long and distinguished career with the U.S. Department of Labor in 1943 as an economist with the War Labor Board. She went on to hold numerous positions within the department, including statistician, economic advisor, manpower specialist, and research chief, until her retirement as chief of data operations and chief of reporting operations in 1973.

"My aunt always said that while she was a student at UMass, she developed the skills she needed to compete in an environment where women were a rarity," said Barber''s niece, Dr. Sheridan A. Phillips, associate professor, University of Maryland Medical Systems. "She was a scholarship student, and this gift is her way of paying back what she felt was her tremendous debt to the University."

Barber received the William Smith Clark Society Award from UMass in 1992.

Glen Gordon, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, described Barber as a "long-time friend and supporter" of UMass and the department of economics. "Her exceptionally generous gift to the department will enable us to strengthen an already impressive unit," said Gordon.

"The economics department is already known throughout the world for its innovative economic analysis and blend of theoretical perspectives," noted Diane Flaherty, department chair. "An endowed chair will further increase our visibility and enhance both our course offerings and the stature of a UMass degree in economics."