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Annual Report 2022: Alumni Excellence

David Korins peers into a small scale model

Alumni Excellence

an open dictionary on a sage green background

Chasing Language: HFA Alumni Featured on Cover of UMass Magazine

The Spring 2022 issue of UMass magazine went behind the scenes at Merriam-Webster dictionary, where five alumni of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts work to define language and capture vocabulary—easier said than done.

Faculty Excellence Bolstered with Gift from Pamela and Robert Jacobs

Alumni Excellence

Faculty Excellence Bolstered with Gift from Pamela and Robert Jacobs

Longtime Supporters Pamela M. Jacobs ’69 and Robert D. Jacobs ’68 were already planning to make an additional pledge in conjunction with the upcoming capital campaign, although they were still early in their thinking. However, when they were on campus for the annual Robert D. and Pamela M. Jacobs Lecture in Jewish Culture last spring—this time with New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast—they met with Dean Barbara Krauthamer to discuss their philanthropy and preliminary ideas for continuing to support Jewish students, scholarship, and culture. When the Jacobses learned of the availability of the State Matching Endowment Incentive Program (SMEIP) funds, they were very interested in accelerating their philanthropic plans to take advantage of the opportunity.

Working with Dean Barbara Krauthamer, they discussed their priorities—amplifying those demonstrated in previous pledges and gifts—and heard from the dean about her desire to support faculty excellence. Seeing just how closely their interests align, the Jacobses made their gift of $500,000 to establish the Robert D. and Pamela M. Jacobs Faculty Excellence Fund. Along with the state matching funds, a total of $750,000 will be used to support the recruitment and retention of faculty in the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies or faculty who are working on research in a related field, such as history.

The availability of SMEIP funds provided a substantial incentive to the Jacobs to make their pledge and secure the match.

Hisao ’88 and Karen ’88 Kushi Support First-Generation and Underrepresented Minority Students

Alumni Excellence

Hisao ’88 and Karen ’88 Kushi Support First-Generation and Underrepresented Minority Students

With a generous gift, Hisao ’88 and Karen ’88 Kushi—who met at UMass—established the Opportunity Scholars Endowed Fund.

Designed for first semester students from underrepresented populations or first-generation college students, HFA’s Opportunity Scholars is a program that promotes personal development, scholarship, leadership, community service, and connection to people, cultural centers, and resources on campus. The Kushi’s support will allow the program to expand and grow, helping more students and providing more programming designed to provide them with a strong foundation at UMass.

Celebrating Alumni at Homecoming

Alumni Excellence

Celebrating Alumni at Homecoming

Rachael Rollins and Charlie Sennott were celebrated as recipients of Alumni Honors during HFA’s Scholars and Donors event.

Rollins, who was appointed by the president as US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, received the Excellence in Service Award.

Charlie Sennott received the distinguished leader award.

Sennott, an accomplished foreign correspondent, is dedicated to the pursuit of ethical journalism and works to support the next generation of journalists.

David Korins lectures students
Alumni Excellence

David Korins

As a UMass Amherst theater major, Tony Award-nominated stage designer David Korins ’99 was introduced to set design. The department excels in technical theater arts. During his visit, he met with the next generation of Broadway lighting, set, and sound designers.

Top of page: Korins views student work in progress in the design studio of the newly renovated Arts Bridge.

  • David Korins with two students in a workshop
    Korins with set design students Arjun Misra ’22 and Drishti Chauhan ’26.
  • David Korins and Harley Erdman
    Korins with his mentor, Harley Erdman, chair of the theater department.

New Funds Established in 2021-2022

The Christie and Chinua Achebe Scholarship Fund is aimed at promoting a diverse, equitable, and inclusive scholarly environment in which outstanding undergraduate students support the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the university. Established by the Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation, the fund will provide support each year for undergraduate students majoring or minoring in Afro-American Studies or students with demonstrated interest in Native American and indigenous heritage.

Novelist, poet, and critic Chinua Achebe and his wife Christie—both born to Igbo parents in Nigeria—met had three children only a few years before the country was overtaken by a bloody civil war in 1967. The Nigerian-Biafran War, fought between the Igbo people’s Republic of Biafra and the government of Nigeria, culminated in the death and genocide of over two million Igbos. During the war, Chinua Achebe served as roving ambassador for Biafra, and Christie set up schools for children on the front.

In 1972, Chinua Achebe accepted an offer to teach at UMass Amherst as a visiting professor of English. He and Christie moved their family and found community, friends, and an opportunity to recover from the devastating effects of war. Christie enrolled in the doctorate program in Education where she was exposed to Native American history.

The Achebe family acknowledge that in moments of their vulnerability they discovered other sources of strength in our human condition. Because of their relationship with UMass Amherst, the Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation established this scholarship in the spirit of moving forward, transcending, and extending concerns to help future generations of students, hoping that they will pass on this insight to improve the world around us.

  • Jane Lunin Perel Poets’ Fund
    The bequest of poet Jane Lunin Perel ‘71MFA will provide support to rising second-year MFA poetry students who demonstrate a passion for poetry and exceptional development of their craft.
  • Kathleen Lugosch Architecture Award Fund
    Established in honor of Professor Kathleen Lugosch upon her retirement to support graduate students pursuing a Master’s in Architecture.
  • Robert Rothstein Prize
    Established in support of undergraduates and in honor of Professor Robert Rothstein, who directed the Russian, Eurasian, and Polish Studies Program and held the Amesbury Professorship in Polish Language, Literature and Culture.
  • Maureen Tracy Venti Memorial Fund
    Established in honor of Maureen Traci Venti ’72, this fund supports three awards supporting scholarships, internships, and study abroad.
  • John H. Bracey Fellowship Fund
    Provides summer fellowship support for doctoral students in the W.E.B.Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies to enable students to make significant progress at the early stage of research or the final stages of completing their dissertations.
  • Edwin Gentzler Translation Center Fund
    Gifted by professors Edwin Gentzler and Jenny Spencer, the fund supports the founding principle of the Translation Center as it pertains to ensuring civil rights in the context of translation and particularly languages of limited diffusion.
  • Lisa Hayward Basile Scholarship
    Established in honor of Lisa Hayward Basile—artist, teacher, and wife of Isenberg School of Management graduate Stephen Basile ’75—this fund supports students in the art education program with financial need.
  • Nadine Shank Double Major Scholarship
    Established in honor of Nadine Shank, who taught piano in the department of music and dance for over 40 years, this fund supports music students pursuing a second major in a non-arts field.
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