UMass Lowell Chancellor Moloney and UMass President Meehan join John Pulichino and Joy Tong in the ceremonial ribbon cutting. (Marlon Pitter/Connector)
In an era of rapid expansion and growth over the last decade, opening new buildings seems almost commonplace at UMass Lowell.
Members of the UMass Lowell community gathered on North Campus on April 20 to officially open the Pulichino Tong Business Center – the 13th new building opened by the university since 2009 – and celebrate the individuals who helped make the project a reality.
Alumnus John Pulichino and his wife, Joy Tong, were among those honored on the sunny morning as they shared their excitement for the opening of the new home of the Manning School of Business.
“This is a wonderful day for UMass Lowell,” Pulichino said. “It’s really a special day for the Manning School of Business, and most importantly, a day for those students who will now have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and aspirations in a facility that is clearly second to none.”
A leader in the university’s rigorous development during his tenure as UMass Lowell’s chancellor from 2007 to 2015, UMass President Marty Meehan expressed gratitude to both Pulichino and Tong for their efforts as benefactors to the campus.
“I thank you not just for the extraordinary generosity, but I also thank both John and Joy for their commitment to excellence,” Meehan said. “There are a lot of other things, a lot of other universities that they could contribute to, but they’ve looked at the mission of this institution and they’ve come to the conclusion that this is something worth investing in.”
Manning School of Business Dean Sandra Richtermeyer added to the festivity with her own speaking segment before the ribbon-cutting by Pulichino and Tong.
“Anytime we have the opportunity to bring students, alumni, faculty, staff and members of the community together, we have a reason to celebrate,” Richtermeyer said.
The Pulichino Tong Business Center welcomes the Manning School of Business with a state-of-the-art, real-time trading room, a live stock market ticker, technology-enabled classrooms, faculty offices, meeting spaces and other features.
“It’s an inviting, vibrant space that will promote innovative collaboration and learning between faculty and students, which, to me, is what UMass Lowell is all about,” said business student Rebecca Foley.
The addition of the Pulichino Tong Business Center contrasts with previously existing buildings but adds to the physical upgrading of the campus, joining the North Campus parking garage and the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center as the third new university building opened in the last five years north of the Merrimack River.
“When you can take the Lowell Textile Institute building, Southwick Hall, that was constructed in 1897 and combine that with the other structures, this building does that beautifully, as does the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center,” Meehan said. “The other trick to is, you want a college campus where, even though the buildings are different generations, they come together in a meaningful way, and I think this building … does that.”
For UMass Lowell students, the development of the Pulichino Tong Business Center offers a unique collaborative experience across North Campus disciplines, Meehan said.
“There are plenty of business schools in the country, but they don’t have the connection we have to engineering and to sciences, and I think that’s really important,” he said.
For Pulichino, today’s student demographic reminds him of the blue-collar campus he graduated from in 1967 – the Lowell Technological Institute at the time – but he says UMass Lowell students are more engaged and diverse than they were when he was a student.
“There’s a different kind of energy level I see here in today’s students, just in general in terms of their generation, how they feel about themselves and what they’re doing,” said Pulichino. “Back then, it was more about ‘Yeah, I’m going to school. Not sure what I’m going to do.’ Today, kids really have pretty good understanding of what it’s all about and what they want to do.”
Meehan said the opening of the new home of the business school comes at a time when college students will need better financial literacy more than ever.
“We’re going to have a whole generation of young people who are going to retire without defined pension benefits, so students really need to get educated in finance, on retirement, and I think this building is going to help people better understand how mutual funds work, how stocks work, and that’s going to make their lives better, particularly in retirement,” he said.
Pulichino credits an influx of dedicated and talented students, alumni returning and getting involved, and the leadership of Meehan and current Chancellor Jacquie Moloney in his desire to remain connected to the university.
“When you see the kind of engagement, not only by alumni but with the state and the faculty… that kind energy level excites people…” Pulichino said.
In her address to the crowd, Tong spoke about the struggles she faced as a Chinese woman coming to the United States 50 years ago. Tong said she hopes now that UMass Lowell business students will be more prepared to be judged based on their merits rather than their heritage.
“We are in an era of change,” said Tong, “and within the walls of this new business center, dedicated faculty and educating business leaders of tomorrow, creating a strong pipeline of amazing talent to ensure that competence will always take precedence over race and gender.”