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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

About Eugene Isenberg


Eugene M. Isenberg '50, '00H, was a dedicated alumnus and long-time champion of the school. Mr. Isenberg was a successful businessman and generous philanthropist. "I believe my own good fortune is, in substantial part, due to the quality and breadth of education I received," Mr. Isenberg explained when he donated the gift.

Mr. Isenberg passed away on March 16, 2014.

Mr. Isenberg was chairman of Nabors from 1987 until 2012 and its CEO from 1987 until 2011. He was chairman emeritus at the time of his death. He joined the firm (then known as Anglo Energy), immediately distinguishing himself as one of America's most gifted business strategists and dealmakers. Under his leadership, Nabors became a dominant player in gas and petroleum drilling markets in Alaska and the lower 48 U.S. states. The firm also excelled in Canada, Central and South America, the North Sea, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and countries in the former Soviet Union. Mr. Isenberg was also a director of the American Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and the National Association of Securities Dealers.

Before Nabors, Mr. Isenberg was co-CEO of NorthStar Tubular, a trader in oil country tubular goods and chairman of Genimar, a steel trading and building products manufacturer. He also held management positions with Exxon.

The Isenberg’s $6 million gift brought the Isenberg alumni community together with unprecedented energy in the school's campaign to build its 42,000-square-foot Harold Alfond Management Center wing. In 1998, the school became the Eugene M. Isenberg School of Management in honor of Mr. Isenberg's generosity and leadership.

In the mid-1990s, the Isenbergs created The Isenberg Awards given to outstanding graduate students at Isenberg and the colleges of science and engineering. More than 100 students who have combined management with science and engineering have received annual Isenberg Awards of $10,000.

In 2006, the Isenbergs created a second set of annual scholarships for up to eight juniors with status in both Isenberg and Commonwealth Honors College. To drive interdisciplinary education on campus, the Isenbergs established three endowed chairs-in the School of Management, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the College of Engineering.

At the time of his death, Mr. Isenberg was one of the four co-chairs of UMass Rising, the campus's $300 million sesquicentennial fundraising campaign. He was also a board member and former president of the UMass Amherst Foundation. In 2012, Mr. Isenberg was the inaugural recipient of the University's Legacy of Leadership Award. The accolade recognizes visionaries who have transformed organizations while championing public service, social diversity, and quality of life improvements. In 2000, he received an honorary doctorate from the University.

Mr. Isenberg's generosity reached well beyond higher education. He was founder and principal sponsor of the Parkside School in Manhattan, which serves learning-disabled children. In Palm Beach, Florida, he was a director and benefactor of Home Safe, which provides physical facilities for abused children, and a supporter of both LIFE Disabled Veterans and Massachusetts General Hospital. Mr. Isenberg was also an enthusiastic contributor to the performing arts in New York City and Palm Beach.