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James Post was pleased when he recently became an emeritus professor of markets, public policy, and law, but the announcement made at his school yesterday was so exciting that “it may prompt me to come out of retirement!” he joked.

Post was referring to the $50 million gift—BU’s largest ever—to his old workplace, the renamed Questrom School of Business. Allen Questrom (Questrom’64) and his wife, Kelli, gave the money through their Allen and Kelli Questrom Foundation to endow 10 faculty chairs and enable planning to establish a new graduate program facility.

Post, who is helping Kenneth Freeman, the school’s Allen Questrom Professor and Dean, launch a new institute for ethics and the global economy, said the gifts would help those efforts, as well as the entire curriculum, to soar.

“I expect that every part of the Questrom curriculum will be affected, every department engaged in the transformation, and every faculty member encouraged to be bold in their work,” he said. The new faculty, likely to include both single subject and interdisciplinary appointments, “will enable us to create new knowledge and to share that knowledge with audiences in Boston, and through technology, around the world.”

By supporting a new graduate programs building, Post added, “the Questroms have recognized that physical space shapes an organization’s culture. We cannot be the kind of school we aspire to be without the necessary square footage.”

Rebecca Stiffelman (Questrom’18) (left) and Lizzie Tillow (Questrom’18) snap a selfie with BU trustee Allen Questrom (Questrom’64) at the announcement of the Questroms’ gift to BU. Photo by Cydney Scott

Excited gasps greeted President Robert A. Brown’s announcement of the gift at yesterday’s ceremony in the Questrom School. Video screens flanked the stage, flashing first the school’s old name, then the new one, and displaying a red banner with the new name unfurling in live time over the school’s Comm Ave entrance. Students and faculty welcomed both the plan for new hires and the proposed grad program space the gift will help support.

“We have team room space; there’s just not enough,” said MBA student Roger Dean (Questrom’16). “With the undergrads plus grad students sharing these team rooms, there’s just never enough room.” More space is crucial, agreed fellow grad student Alexander Clark (Questrom’16), because “that’s the future of business schools and the future of business. Everything is going to be done more dynamically, in teams, and I think this gift is something that will directly impact that and positively affect the future of business students.”

Pablo Mercado (Questrom’16) predicted that the gift would boost the already escalating caliber of the school’s reputation and of its students. “Whenever you have a family like the Questroms backing the school, they will be a positive force behind you moving forward,” he said. “I can only imagine what great changes they will make to the school with this money.”

Students were eager to imagine the changes to come. “Kids have such diverse perspectives on what business is to them, so adding new programs is always good,” said undergraduate finance and economics major Payal Patel (Questrom’16). “This will give them more variety.” Krishna Patel (Questrom’16), no relation to Payal, said the gift should help with a continuing upgrade in the school’s information systems program.

Sonya Shekhar (Questrom’16) had other ideas. “We will be able to do things like adding more Bloomberg terminals and bringing speakers to campus like the CEO of Jet Blue. And investing more in career services.”

Araeyus Vakil (Questrom’16) (left) and Heskel Kahen-Kashi (Questrom’16) with their new Questrom School of Business T-shirts. Photo by Cydney Scott

“This is the kind of news that one hears once in a lifetime,” said Susan Fournier, Questrom Professor in Management (the Questroms endowed two professorial chairs in 2012) and faculty director of the school’s MBA program. “We have promising plans for new curricular strategies and programs and ideas for radical innovations that can distinguish our offerings.” Those curriculum programs, plus the school’s research and service leadership, “need resources and support,” Fournier added.

“I cannot stress strongly enough how important a new building will be for graduate programs,” she said. “We are a different kind of business school, with a brand that stands at once for academic excellence and community: a community comprised not just of graduate students…but also of graduate faculty and support staff. Community—any community—needs a sense of place with which to identify and in which to thrive. The new building will do that.”

Even the new name, tied to a major business leader, enhances the school, said Karen Golden-Biddle, Questrom Professor in Management and the school’s senior associate dean.

“Most immediately, it elevates our school’s reputation and provides critical momentum for advancing our upward trajectory as a business school. The gift energizes and emboldens faculty to sustain the many initiatives that are advancing impactful research and meaningful curriculum innovation.”
The final word should come from the Questroms, who spoke side by side from the stage yesterday.

“It’s very nice to be here,” said Allen Questrom, who is famous for his successful leadership of department and retail stores, at which Kelli Questrom cracked, “Best shopping spree I’ve ever been on!”

Amy Laskowski contributed reporting to the story.

More on the Questrom Gift