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January 18, 2012

Simon School alumni give $4.5 million

Two major gifts totaling $4.5 million from prominent alumni will support student scholarships and faculty positions at the Simon School and the School of Arts and Sciences.

“We are deeply grateful for these generous gift commitments in support of our Meliora Challenge comprehensive Campaign,” says President Joel Seligman. “These gifts will enable us to provide scholarship support to more students and attract leading global scholars to both the Simon School and the College.”

Joseph T. ’75S (MBA) and Janice M. ’78S (MBA) Willett are pledging an additional $3.5 million, which equals their previous gifts to the University’s comprehensive Campaign, The Meliora Challenge. Their most recent gift will support student scholarships at the Simon School, establish faculty support in honor of Russell Peck in the Department of English and his wife, Ruth; enhance their previous support of the International Theatre Program; and provide unrestricted support to the University. Russell Peck, the John Hall Deane Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in medieval intellectual history, romance literature, the construction of literary influence, conceptualizing voice, and contemporary drama. Russell and Ruth have also long taught a course on Theater in England during which students have an intensive theater-going experience over winter break.

“This marvelous gift from Janice and Joe Willett means a lot to us,” says Peter Lennie, senior vice president and Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering. “It brings proper recognition to a beloved faculty member and a remarkable program in an accomplished department.”

The Willetts’ previous gifts established the Janice M. and Joseph T. Willett Professorship of Business Administration for Teaching and Service, held by longtime Simon faculty member Ronald Schmidt and also enabled the school to offer more student scholarships and research support for junior faculty. Joseph Willett is the retired CFO of Merrill Lynch and the retired COO of Merrill’s European region.

Currently a freelance editor, Janice Willett is also senior manuscript editor for the Journal of Financial Economics; she previously served as editor for The Boston Consulting Group and associate editor of the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, published by Morgan Stanley. She is a member of the University Board of Trustees, the Simon School National Council, and chair of the Simon School’s portion of The Meliora Challenge. The Willetts are members of the Simon School Executive Advisory Committee, cochairs of the Northern New Jersey Regional Cabinet, and recipients of the inaugural Simon School Dean’s Medal in 2008.

Evans Lam ’83S, ’84S (MBA), and his wife, Susanna, are contributing an additional $1 million to a previous gift of $500,000 to establish a professorship at the Simon School. The Susanna and Evans Y. Lam Professorship will enable the school to attract global business scholars from around the world.

Evans is senior vice president of investments and senior portfolio manager at UBS Financial Services. Before joining UBS in 2008, he was senior vice president of wealth management and senior portfolio manager at Citigroup Smith Barney. He also served as director of corporate finance at Toronto Dominion Bank and vice president at Deutsche Bank. Susanna is an accomplished Chinese opera singer and performer. Evans serves on the Simon School’s Executive Advisory Committee and National Council. The couple has counseled dozens of students over the years and frequently hosts alumni events in the Los Angeles area. He is also a member of the University’s Regional Cabinet in Los Angeles, and a recipient of the 2010 John N. Wilder Award, honoring those whose commitment to build a greater University inspires others in the tradition of philanthropist Wilder, the first president of the Board of Trustees.

“We are immensely grateful to the Willetts and the Lams for their leadership giving to the Simon School,” says Dean Mark Zupan. “Through their generosity, we will be able to make a Simon education possible for more students through additional scholarship support and recruit premier faculty from around the world.”

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