Donors leverage match program to enhance diversity initiatives

Collage of an animated, diverse group.


Release date: March 16, 2021


Jeffrey Jacobson, BS ’81, and his wife, Irene, are dedicated supporters of UB. They were inspired to create a fellowship at the School of Management — their second — focused on diversity when they learned that their gift would result in double their intended impact, thanks to UB’s Inclusive Excellence Scholarship and Program Initiative.

During his career, which included a stint as the CEO of Xerox, Jacobson says he has always wanted to hire the best person because it adds value to his business. But he knows that barriers to career advancement continue to exist.

“If you exclude half the population who happens to be female, which has happened for the longest time in the executive ranks, or African Americans or Hispanics and others, you are not integrating the best of the best in your business,” he says.

To address such inequities, the Jacobsons endowed the Irene and Jeffrey Jacobson Fellowship for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the School of Management. The two-year fellowship will fund a first- and second-year MBA student every year. In addition to receiving full cost of education support, Jacobson fellows will build leadership skills by participating in the school’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. And with the university’s match, the Jacobsons immediately doubled the impact of their philanthropy.

The Inclusive Excellence Scholarship and Program Initiative was created by President Satish K. Tripathi earlier this year to encourage donors to make commitments to the university in support of endowed scholarships or programs that promote the core principles of inclusive excellence: equity, inclusion and diversity. Tripathi recently earmarked $2 million of a $10 million gift to UB from Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation, a medical records corporation founded by former professor Carl V. Granger, to match gifts that meet the initiative’s standards.

“UB is committed to developing programs that attract and support students from all backgrounds — including underrepresented minorities — as we believe that true innovation occurs when diverse viewpoints are engaged,” says Rod Grabowski, vice president for university advancement.

“The excitement that this match initiative has created among our alumni and friends has been remarkable,” says Grabowski, noting that in the two months since the initiative was launched nearly all available funds have been allocated to new endowed scholarships and programs.

To date, the initiative, which matches endowed gifts ranging from $25,000 to $250,000, has generated over $2.3 million in new commitments in support of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts as part of the university’s comprehensive Boldly Buffalo campaign. Spanning nine of UB’s schools and programs — from the School of Public Health and Health Professions to the Department of Theatre and Dance in the College of Arts and Sciences — these new gifts will support scholarships and fellowships for underrepresented minorities, experiential learning opportunities that are key to success post-graduation, and programs that will benefit the health and well-being of the Western New York community.

When the match has been fully exhausted, more than $4.3 million will have been committed to supporting inclusive excellence at UB. Grabowski says his team has been humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response this match has engendered.

“I offer my thanks to all those, like Jeff and Irene, who have stepped forward to support this important initiative and who are partnering with UB to ensure that the university benefits from an inclusive and diversified community in perpetuity,” he says.

“Our donors and friends have shown that diversity is an issue that means a lot to them. We encourage others who want to help UB grow in this vital area to contact the university’s advancement office to learn more.”

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Sustainable Development Goals:

4. Quality Education

5. Gender Equality

10. Reduced Inequalities

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

17. Partnerships for the Goals