Campus & Community

Lumry Gift Sparks New Investments in Information Technology

4 min read

The University will make significant new investments in the field of information technology, especially as it relates to the Internet and entrepreneurial studies. Income from a recent $7 million gift from Rufus W. Lumry III to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and the Harvard Business School (HBS) will support the creation of the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center in the FAS’s Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences (DEAS), and will fund the Lumry Family Professorship at Harvard Business School.

According to Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Dean of the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center will be highly student-focused, seeking to act as a catalyst for those students throughout the liberal arts and sciences interested in entrepreneurship. It will provide courses, lectures, and research projects, and engage students in an array of entrepreneurial activities. Drawing on the technological expertise and unique interdisciplinary structure of the DEAS, the Center will bring together Harvard students and faculty with interests in the interplay of technology and business. The Center will foster relationships among leading scholars, entrepreneurs, and students, and will prepare students to innovate and lead future technological development. All of this will serve to enhance collaboration in information technology across the University – a primary rationale for Lumry in making his gift.

The Lumry Family Professorship at the Business School will support an outstanding academic leader whose research and teaching are in the field of information technology (IT) – particularly the Internet and its application to business. The new chair will become an integral part of Harvard Business School’s IT initiative, which will keep HBS at the forefront in using technology to teach management skills while supporting cutting-edge research and course development.

The chair will also foster activity between the DEAS and HBS, supporting course work development in the joint HBS/DEAS Ph.D. program.

Lumry’s gift reflects his professional interests and expertise in technology and business, and his longtime service to Harvard. A 1969 graduate of Harvard College and a 1974 graduate of Harvard Business School, Lumry is president of Acorn Ventures Inc. in Bellevue, Wash., a company providing seed capital, financial engineering, strategic planning, and fundraising support for early-stage companies.

Narayanamurti commented, “DEAS is extremely fortunate to have Rufus Lumry’s pioneering enthusiasm and unique vision for the future possibilities of technology exhibited in such a generous and thoughtful gift. I know it will allow the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard to get off to a great start and to help shape that future. . . . I am grateful to Rufus Lumry for his commitment, as should be the next generation of innovators, inventors, and technological revolutionaries he will encourage with his support.”

Noted HBS Dean Kim B. Clark, “Rufus Lumry’s career personifies the mission of the Harvard Business School – to provide students with a transforming educational experience that enables them to make a difference in their company and in the world. … The entire HBS community is thankful to this accomplished and generous alumnus.”

Lumry said that he made his gift in honor of his father, Rufus W. Lumry II, and that he was inspired to do so by the long tradition of philanthropy in his family. Lumry’s ancestor, Calvin Ellis, an 1846 graduate of Harvard College and Dean of the Medical School from 1869 to 1883, set up with his sister the Calvin and Lucy Ellis Aid Fund in 1899 to provide tuition assistance for any of their descendents who would go on to attend Harvard. (As dean, Ellis played an instrumental role in ushering in the modern era of the Medical School. During his tenure, he and President Charles W. Eliot transformed its status from an independent proprietary school to an integral part of the University.) “I hope to honor my father with this gift just as Calvin and Lucy Ellis honored the many succeeding generations of their family with their foresighted generosity.”

“The original impulse for this gift extends back more than a hundred years and is part of a tradition that I hope will continue to thrive for many years,” said Rufus W. Lumry II. “Going to Harvard encouraged me and other members of my family to think differently about the future. It gave us possibilities, and in making this gift, my son is inspiring that spirit of possibility in others.”