With $1.5 million Gift, Alumnus Charles P. McQuaid Endows Professorship in Finance at UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School

Charles P. McQuaid
Charles P. McQuaid

AMHERST, Mass. – Charles P. McQuaid, a 1974 graduate from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has given the school a $1.5 million gift to establish an endowed professorship in finance. The gift – part of the UMass Rising campaign – helps meet one of its key goals of adding endowed professorships to the UMass Amherst faculty.   

McQuaid says his gift is a way for him to give something back to the school that helped launch his successful business career as an investment fund manager. He’s doing that through the Charles P. McQuaid Endowed Professorship in finance.

In March 2014, McQuaid reduced his responsibilities after working for 35 years at Columbia Wanger Asset Management in Chicago, where he rose to be president and chief investment officer. He managed the Columbia Acorn Fund, with a portfolio of small- to mid-cap firms with growth characteristics “not yet appreciated by the market.” To that end, Acorn’s “deep, fundamental research,” focuses on companies with sustainable competitive advantages, entrepreneurial management, and market share growth potential, he says.

He remains active in the business world, managing the Columbia Thermostat Fund and advises analysts and writes quarterly shareholder commentaries. He says he views the Isenberg School as a good investment. “If Isenberg were a stock, I’d invest in it in a heartbeat,” he says. “Given the small size of its endowment and operating budget, Isenberg, whose rankings have soared among the nation’s top public business schools, is punching way above its weight,” he says.

The McQuaid endowed professorship is the ninth for the Isenberg School. Dean Mark Fuller says, “Chuck McQuaid’s gift will further energize our finance department’s growing national reputation, which is a key driver in Isenberg’s own success story.”

While attending UMass Amherst, McQuaid recalls that he still worked part-time, sometimes in factory jobs in his hometown of Ware. He says he commuted to UMass Amherst for all but three semesters.

He became interested in becoming a securities analyst after taking an investment course. “But then a classmate told me I’d need a top MBA to get such a job,” McQuaid says. So after graduation from UMass Amherst at age 21, he was accepted into the University of Chicago’s MBA program. “Most of my peers were Ivy League graduates. With my UMass education, I had as much or more business knowledge as they did, although many of them entered with considerable debt from their undergraduate programs,” he recalls.

“With its current progress, Isenberg is in a virtuous circle,” says McQuaid. He will visit the UMass Amherst campus in October to attend the finance department’s annual conference of its world-class alternative investments unit, the Center for International Securities & Derivatives Markets.

Looking back at his career, McQuaid says, “I got a good deal from UMass. But since then, I’ve lived and worked in Chicago and paid taxes in Illinois, not Massachusetts. So after 41 years, it was time to give back. I hope Isenberg graduates who have left Massachusetts will take that message to heart.”