January 9th, 2014

Volunteer Spotlight

Board of Overseers Vice Chair William Bloom

Billy-BloomMember: Athletics Directors Council
Co-chair: Athletics Campaign

Principal of a private-investment firm. Former vice chairman of a multi-billion dollar real estate investment trust. Former captain of BU Rugby. There’s no doubt that William Bloom (CGS’82, SMG’84) has the leadership instinct. And it isn’t just his easy approachability that underpins his decades of success. He also has a passion for helping others and a unique perspective on leadership and the development of personal excellence that is informed by his time as an athlete at BU. That perspective has now led to The Leadership Academy at Boston University, endowed by Bloom and his wife Ruth.

“Leadership implies teamwork,” Bloom says. “You’ve got to be able to get a group of people to work together. It’s not always about being the fastest, or the strongest scorer. It’s that intangible ability to motivate other people.”

Bloom himself embodies that quality. Before underwriting the leadership academy, Bloom, who is vice chairman of the University’s board of overseers, made the first philanthropic contribution to the University’s newly created New Balance Field and endowed a scholarship for student-athletes.

The Leadership Academy at Boston University

The leadership academy, which launched in October, identifies scholar-athletes with leadership potential and provides them with tailored curricula focused on the retention and application of leadership principles. The academy also teaches coaches proven, practical leadership strategies that their team members can learn as soon as the next practice and employ long beyond their years of eligibility.

As a member of the Patriot League athletic conference—which encourages and sponsors the creation of leadership academies at each of its member schools—BU joins highly rated collegiate programs dedicated to preparing their athletes for excellence on and off the field. Initiatives like the leadership academy help enhance not only students’ athletic aptitude, but also their overall ability to succeed.

Athletics is kind of a laboratory for human endeavor…You learn how to
get along with people and how to bring disparate groups together to achieve a common goal … those are the lessons you carry with you into your career
and your life.” —William Bloom

With more than 125 participants in its inaugural year, the academy’s launch could not have come at a better time, says Mike Lynch, Boston University’s director of athletics. “We’ve gone through many significant changes this past year as a department and [the academy] is among the most important,” Lynch says. “This generous and thoughtful commitment by Mr. and Mrs. Bloom and their family moves our athletic program into the company of just a handful of elite athletic departments in the country that are dedicating time, energy, and resources to leadership development at a very high level.”

While his love of sports and commitment to his alma mater contributed to Bloom’s decision to help make the leadership academy a reality, it’s a deeper personal understanding about the impact of athletics that ultimately inspired his generosity. “Athletics is kind of a laboratory for human endeavor,” he explains. “The fear of losing doesn’t keep an athlete from trying, and you can fail again and again. You learn how to get along with people and how to bring disparate groups together to achieve a common goal—whether it’s the short-term victory for the week or a season-winning record. Those are the types of lessons you carry with you into your career and your life. And I think that’s important.”

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