AMHERST, Mass. – Massachusetts businessman and philanthropist Robert L. Epstein has made a commitment of $1.5 million to establish the Robert L. Epstein Endowed Professorship in UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management. The gift honors Epstein’s friendship with UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and the chancellor’s decade of exceptional service to the university.
The Epstein Endowed Professorship will help attract or retain an outstanding faculty member, with a preference for faculty in hospitality and tourism management, who will strengthen the academic excellence of the Isenberg School of Management and advance industry knowledge through research, scholarship and inspired teaching. The fund will cover costs such as salary supplementation, education and travel expenses, graduate assistantships, research expenses, and support services for the faculty member’s program.
Epstein, who earned a degree in marketing from the Isenberg School of Management, has been an ambassador for the university and an ardent supporter of Isenberg faculty and students. He has served as a member of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Foundation Board since 2010 and was appointed to the UMass Board of Trustees in 2015. In addition, he co-chaired UMass Rising, the largest fundraising campaign in UMass Amherst history, served as a guest lecturer at Isenberg, established the Robert L. Epstein Endowed Scholarship, and supported Isenberg’s Business Innovation Hub, among other university priorities.
For years, Epstein has been a leader in the beverage and alcohol industry. As co-owner and president of the Horizon Beverage Group and former chairman of Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, he has worked with producers, unions, legislators and more than 15,000 retail and restaurant customers. With his gift, he aims to enhance UMass Amherst and Isenberg’s reputation within the hospitality industry and provide the university with the resources it needs to retain world-class faculty to mold the next generation of industry leaders.
“I have been inspired by the innovation and growth UMass and Isenberg have seen under Chancellor Subbaswamy’s leadership,” Epstein says. “The university is attracting students of the highest caliber who are eager to make a difference in their chosen fields; and faculty scholarship has had a considerable impact both in the commonwealth and on the national stage. It is an honor to contribute to this upward trajectory with a gift that will further bolster academic excellence in the Isenberg School of Management.”
“Faculty are the cornerstone of UMass Amherst’s ambitions to produce revolutionary scholarship and graduates who bring insight and ingenuity to a host of sectors around the world,” says Subbaswamy. “I deeply appreciate my friendship with Bob. He has provided me important guidance along the way, and I am inspired by his dedication to his work, including his role on the Foundation Board, and the Board of Trustees. His generosity will provide untold benefits for our students and industry partners in the years to come.”
Over the course of Chancellor Subbaswamy’s tenure, UMass Amherst has climbed to No. 26 from No. 52 among public universities in the U.S. News & World Report rankings since 2010, making it one of the fastest growing top-tier public research universities in the country. The university’s total research grant funding has grown 42 percent over the last decade, and the UMass Rising campaign added more than $100 million to the university’s endowment. The Isenberg School of Management has also risen in the U.S. News rankings, with its business programs ranking in the top 50 nationally. It now boasts the top-rated public university undergraduate business program in the Northeast and the No. 12 online MBA program in the country.
“At Isenberg, we continue to set new benchmarks for success in terms of attracting exceptional students, advancing industry-changing research, and fostering the career development of our alumni,” says Anne P. Massey, dean of the Isenberg School. “This endowed professorship will enable us to strengthen our teaching, scholarship and industry connections in a sector that continues to evolve quickly and offers a variety of dynamic career opportunities for our students. We are deeply grateful to Mr. Epstein for his generosity and his ongoing support of our school.”
The university hopes to appoint a faculty member to the Epstein Endowed Chair by July 1, 2025, when the fund will have been invested with the endowment for a full year.