AMHERST, Mass. – Eugene M. Isenberg, a longtime benefactor and alumnus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was warmly remembered this week by campus officials who praised his commitment to the university and its School of Management, which was named in his honor in 1997 in recognition of his transformational gift to the school.
Isenberg, who died March 16, graduated from UMass Amherst in 1950 with a degree in economics and went on to head Nabors Industries, Inc., one of the largest oil and gas drilling contractors in the world.
“Gene Isenberg was one of our most dedicated alumni,” said Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. “He never forgot his working class upbringing in Chelsea and how a UMass education prepared him for life. Over the years, his generosity supported scholarships and faculty chairs for integrative studies in science, engineering and management as well as our highly regarded Isenberg School of Management.”
At the time of his death, Isenberg was serving as one of the four co-chairs of UMass Rising, the campus’ $300 million sesquicentennial fundraising campaign. He was also the founding president and a board member of the UMass Amherst Foundation. He and his wife, Ronnie, endowed three professorships and created the Isenberg Awards Program in addition to their naming gift to the School of Management.
“As the campus moves forward and expands its fundraising programs, we will truly miss Gene’s wisdom, insight and guidance,” said Michael Leto, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations. “UMass Amherst has lost a true champion who exemplified the value and power of public higher education.”
“Gene Isenberg was a tremendous advocate for education and it went well beyond his obvious support for UMass Amherst and the Isenberg School of Management,” said Mark Fuller, dean of the Isenberg School of Management. “During our very first meeting after I became dean of the Isenberg School, Gene made the point that ‘education is at least part of the solution to any problem,’ a statement I now use regularly when talking with alumni. We have all benefited from his life-changing passion and commitment, and we’re going to miss him dearly.”
Burial will be private. A public memorial service will be held at a later date.