Babson Heroes: How the Community Adapted Quickly to Lend a Helping Hand

Babson Magazine

Spring 2020

If there’s one positive thing we’ve learned during the first weeks of the pandemic, it’s that there are heroes all around us, most prominently caring for patients in hospitals, stocking shelves and assisting customers in grocery stores, and protecting our towns and cities as first responders.

But, heroes also exist throughout the Babson College community. Just days after the coronavirus outbreak took hold of the United States, students, alumni, faculty, and staff made a variety of contributions, from coordinating travel arrangements, to offering free learning opportunities, to donating—and innovating ways to provide—personal protective equipment.

These stories are condensed versions that originally appeared on Babson Thought & Action, where you can read more about these and other Babson Heroes.


Babson’s ‘Guardian Angel’ Answers the Call

Fearing the impact that the global coronavirus outbreak may have on Babson College’s financial health, Edward Chiu needed to make a call.

The person he dialed? Robert Weissman ’64, H’94, P’87 ’90, G’20.

Robert Weissman ’64, H’94, P’87 ’90, G’20 and his wife, Jan Weissman P’87 ’90, G’20

On the phone, Chiu, the Governor Craig R. Benson Endowed Senior Vice President for Advancement, outlined a proposal. What if Weissman’s annual contribution to the College was allocated to current needs? That would allow College leadership the flexibility to address head-on whatever issues they may encounter.

Weissman listened to the proposal. He didn’t hesitate with an answer.

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary action,” Weissman said. “I want to ensure the well-being of Babson students, faculty, and staff.”

And, so, with that phone call, $1 million was given to Babson to use however it sees fit in a time of unprecedented crisis and uncertainty.

Weissman’s gift is just another in a long line of generous contributions that he and his wife, Jan P’87 ’90, G’20, have made to the school. In just the last couple of years, they have supported projects that have radically changed the look and feel of campus: the relocation of the Babson World Globe and the openings of both the Weissman Foundry and Babson Commons at Horn Library. During the course of their lives, they have committed more than $100 million to the College.

“No words can describe the impact that they and their entire family continue to have on Babson,” Chiu said. “Guardian angel might be a good way to describe it.”

Read the original story by John Crawford: ‘Extraordinary Times Call for Extraordinary Action’ »


Giving Back, to Move Forward

Ettore Biagioni ’80, Board of Trustees, Global Advisory Board (GAB) member and former GAB chair, received numerous notes of appreciation shortly after purchasing flights home for nine Global Scholars—international students in financial need—one of many acts of kindness during Babson’s online transition in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Yet, one message in particular led Biagioni to reflect on the influence of paying it forward. It said, “I look forward to giving back the way I received.”

“That is the purpose of all of this,” he said. “It’s something they’re going to remember in the future, to give back to others who are less fortunate when they’ve succeeded in their professional careers.”

Trustee Fred Kiang ’70, MBA’75, H’19, and Sunil Goyal P’13 ’16 ’19, both also members of the Global Advisory Board, joined Biagioni, and the three were instrumental in helping students quickly reunite with family and friends.

Read the original story by Bryan Lipiner: Giving Back, to Move Forward »


Adapting to Create More Access

Have you heard this narrative before? Entrepreneurs, faced with an obstacle, find a solution, offering greater opportunities for those in need than what was previously available.

Michael Ioffe ’21
Ryan Laverty ’20

Michael Ioffe ’21 and Ryan Laverty ’20 tackled that challenge when they founded text-messaging learning platform Arist last year. They did so again when they announced free access to Arist for all schools affected by the coronavirus outbreak, allowing students who may not have access to online courses the chance to continue their studies.

“With the realization that many of our peers may not have access to the internet, our team came together and realized this could be a way to help,” Ioffe said. “We see it as the ability to fix a pressing problem in a time of need.”

Read the original story by Bryan Lipiner: Paying It Forward »


‘In Times Like These, It Is So Important to Think of Others’

As people were forced into isolation during the outbreak—cut off from work and school, shops and restaurants, neighbors and communities—Alex Freeman ’15 found herself focused on those in need during the stay-at-home orders.

“In times like these, it is so important to think of others,” she said.

So, she decided to act. Her work started by asking for contributions to the Greater Boston Food Bank, a large hunger-relief organization that distributed nearly 70 million pounds of food last year. Over just a 72-hour period, Freeman was able to raise a combined $2,300 on Facebook and Instagram.

Read the original story by John Crawford: ‘In Times Like These, It Is So Important to Think of Others’ »


A Collaboration to Donate Personal Protective Equipment

As the coronavirus outbreak escalated, Jodi Schaefer, manager of the Babson science laboratories, wanted to help the response effort in whatever way possible.

Jodi Schaefer, manager of the Babson science laboratories

Associate Professor Wiljeana Glover suggested utilizing the Babson-Olin-Wellesley collaboration. Though it was ultimately decided that providing testing was not within the collaborators’ capabilities, providing much-needed personal protective equipment to hospitals and medical workers was.

Schaefer contacted Joanne Pratt, Olin College’s associate dean and associate professor of biological sciences, to pool supplies. And they filled Schaefer’s car with all their available supplies and rushed off to a local Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Donations Management Branch.

“We donated about 65 boxes of gloves, 100 pairs of used goggles, and 40 pairs of new goggles to MEMA,” Schaefer said.

Read the original story by Karl Klaussen: In a Time of Need, a Rush to Donate PPE »


Bringing Comfort to New York City

When disaster strikes, the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort is often there.

Rear Adm. John Mustin MBA’06 (left) discusses the Comfort with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“That unmistakable white hull—that is a symbol known around the world,” says Rear Adm. John Mustin MBA’06, who has served in the Navy for 30 years. “It is a very visual symbol of hope and comfort and resiliency.”

In response to the pandemic, Mustin oversaw the effort to bring the Comfort to New York City. Preparing the ship to set sail required lots of logistics and teamwork.

Scheduled maintenance on the Comfort had to be wrapped up, 1,200 doctors and nurses were brought in from around the country, and pallet upon pallet of equipment were loaded aboard. A New York pier even had to be dredged to make sure it was sufficiently deep enough for the 70,000-ton ship.

All of these efforts by so many illustrated the shared sense of purpose that Mustin enjoys in the Navy. “This was really a phenomenal example,” he says, “of people working together.”

Read the original story by John Crawford: Bringing Comfort to New York City »


Pivoting Production with Purpose

In mid-March, a Bauer employee approached CEO Ed Kinnaly ’87 with a suggestion for a solution.

“I’ve got a crazy idea,” the employee said. Kinnaly responded: “Shoot, go for it.”

The conversation was the beginning of a company pivot—from producing hockey equipment to medical face shields—in order to address the shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The plan required employees to step out of their traditional roles. Since the production shift, manufacturing workers have taken on shipping-related tasks, while project managers have brainstormed marketing campaigns and information technology teams have helped take orders.

Read the original story by Bryan Lipiner: Bauer CEO and Babson Alumnus Pivots Production with Purpose »


To Fill a Drastic Need

Matthew Boyd MBA’07

At first glance, the problem seems easy enough to figure out. To fill the urgent need for medical masks, why not just ask manufacturers, particularly those in the medical space, to start cranking them out?

Turns out, producing a new product, one that you have no previous experience with, does take time and effort to do right. Based in Boston and Lee, Massachusetts, Boyd Technologies is taking on the challenge.

“We’re working on this 24/7 right now,” said Matthew Boyd MBA’07, the company’s chief commercial officer. “This is a tremendous crisis. There is a lot of confusion around what can and cannot be done. We want to provide solutions.”

Read the original story by John Crawford: To Fill a Drastic Need »


Supporting Students Everywhere

When the going gets tough, Babson is ready to lend a helping hand.

The City of Boston needed help fulfilling copy services that would provide 72-page educational packets for some of the 52,000 registered Boston Public Schools students. And, the schools needed them quickly. Babson was one of many higher education institutions to help the city in this time of need, and the College’s Canon Copy Center ran overnight to assist with the request.

Kevin Collen, director of Babson’s enterprise-wide Vendor Management & Procurement Services, said his team was glad to provide the service: “I’m happy to be part of the team to support Babson and the broader Boston community however I can.”

Read the original story by Kait Smith Lanthier: Answering the Call »

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