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Boston University management school given $10m from alum who led Macy's, J.C. Penney, Barneys

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  May 17, 2012 07:53 AM

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Watch this video on YouTube

(BU Today)

The video above is produced by Boston University’s news website, BU Today. In it, Allen Questrom and Kenneth Freeman, dean of the School of Management, talk about the $10 million gift from the foundation Questrom runs with his wife, Kelli.

Boston University’s management school has received a $10 million gift from alumnus Allen I. Questrom, a retired leader in retail management whose 39-year career included runs as CEO and chairman of Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, and Barneys New York.

The offering is one of seven donations of $10 million or more the university has received in its 173-year history, according to campus spokesman Colin Riley.

The money provided through a foundation Questrom runs with his wife, Kelli, will endow two professorships and will launch planning for a new executive education center for the School of Management, university officials said Thursday.

It is the second major gift the couple has given the school, officials said. In 2007, they gave $4 million, endowing a deanship and professorship.

“I wouldn’t have found a fitting career in retailing without BU, so I have a very clear responsibility to give back,” Questrom told the university’s news website, BU Today. “I probably wouldn’t have qualified for that first job if I hadn’t gone to BU, so I want BU and SMG to be a priority in my charitable interests.”

As the first in his family to attend a university, he studied finance and marketing, the school said. He graduated in 1964 and is now a member of the university’s trustee board.

“This represents one of the most significant gifts in the history of the School of Management, as we approach our 100th anniversary in 2013,” said a statement from Kenneth Freeman, who, as the Allen Questrom Professor and Dean of the management school, holds the university’s only endowed deanship.

Freeman called Questrom “an icon of corporate America,” and said the professorships will help the school’s faculty increase focus on ethics in business.

“That’s the beauty of the Questrom name, which is synonymous with business success, business results, and the highest integrity,” the dean's statement said.

The bulk of Questrom’s career was spent with the Federated Department Stores, Inc., which is now Macy’s, Inc.

He started there as a management trainee the same year he graduated from BU, officials said. After two years as president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Group, Inc., in 1990, he became the youngest chairman and CEO of the Federated Department Stores, Inc.

Three years later, he brought the company out of bankruptcy, and, in 1995, led the acquisition of rivals Broadway Department Stores and the R. H. Macy Company, Inc., according to the school.

Following a one-year retirement, Questrom became chairman, president and CEO of Barneys New York, Inc. in 1998, officials said. He also brought that company out of bankruptcy and created a new division, the CO-OP Stores.

During an about four-year stint as chairman and CEO of J.C. Penney Company, Inc. ending in 2004, he helped that corporation revive its department store, catalog and online sales, according to the university.

Since 2006, Questrom has been a senior advisor of Lee Equity Partners, LLC, officials said. He is a board member for Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc., Foot Locker, Inc., and the Glazer Family of Companies and a former board member of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Last September, Dubai-based global entrepreneur Rajen Kilachand -- also a BU alumnus and trustee board member -- pledged $25 million to the school, the largest donation in BU's history. That gift was designated to support the university’s recently established Honors College.

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