Empower, a fundraising campaign founded in 2013 by Northeastern University, is co-chaired by Richard D’Amore, BA’76, and Alan McKim, MBA’88. Empower aims to shape the future of learning, teaching, and discovery by supporting students, faculty, and innovation in the Northeastern education and research model.
In 2012, the pair made the largest philanthropic investment in Northeastern history, a combined $60 million gift, for which the business school was named. This gift helped Empower thrive, and the pair’s goal to inspire others to give, began to take shape.
2017 has been the most successful philanthropic year to date at the university.
D’Amore and McKim recently sat down with News@Northeastern to reflect on the experience and the campaign’s effect.
Q: You traveled across the U.S. and abroad as part of the campaign. What struck you most at these global events?
D’Amore: The response from alumni was remarkable in every place we went, and I went to nearly all of them. What was most exciting and surprising was the level of enthusiasm for engagement with the university. People really wanted to be engaged, and these Empower events and this campaign strengthened their connection to the university. I loved talking with our young alumni. It was so exciting to hear about their experiences, and to see the great things they’re doing. I saw the same qualities in them that I saw in my own classmates.
Q: Were there moments that have resonated with you personally?
McKim: When I got back involved with the university 10 or 15 years ago, it was driven by my personal connection with [professor] Dan McCarthy. Early on, Rich and I had gotten together to endow a chair named after Dan. Dan was my mentor, and very much a father figure for me. I was moved by all he has done not only for me personally but also his many efforts at the university around entrepreneurship.
Then I saw how our gift helped seed some of the programs like [the student-run venture accelerator] IDEA. I attended presentations by students on their new business plans coming out of IDEA, and how they collaborated not only with the business school but also across the university to create new ideas, businesses, and inventions. The faculty who’ve helped grow these entrepreneurship programs has also expanded. It’s been personally rewarding to see how these programs have taken off.
Q: If you were a student here today, what opportunity that Empower has created would interest you most?
McKim: The Empower campaign has helped support the infrastructure being built, including the expansion in Burlington with the Kostas Research Institute. It has enabled Northeastern to execute on its strategic plan to move the university in a direction that’s so relevant to what’s going on in society today, particularly in areas like artificial intelligence, robotics, and homeland security.
I’m sort of an engineer at heart, so I think about the opportunities in IT and business. Northeastern excels in those areas, and is particularly strong in engineering. We have new PhD programs, and we’re doing a lot of great work at the Kostas Research Institute. That’s a place that would be really exciting to be.
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