When Andrew Mandell ’61 first arrived at Babson, like so many of his classmates and other students over the decades, he knew he wanted to pursue entrepreneurship but also knew he needed to hone his business skills.
“I wanted to go to a college that offered me the experience I needed to better prepare me for the future,” said Mandell, who first caught the entrepreneurial bug while working in his father’s grocery store. “So, I went to Babson. It was a terrific experience.”
At Babson, Mandell was particularly impressed with the faculty, especially through his involvement with Alpha Kappa Psi, an international, co-ed professional business fraternity. “We became very friendly with the professors, other than just seeing them in classes,” he said. Those discussions provided unique insights into the business world. “We really got a big view of what was out there in the marketplace.”
That Babson experience put Mandell and his wife, Joyce Mandell H’22, on the path to start Data-Mail Inc. in 1971. As their business grew into one of the nation’s largest direct marketing, print, and production facilities, the Mandells always invested back in Babson. The Mandell Family Residence Hall opened in 2006, and they have long supported the College through student scholarships and faculty term chairs over the decades.
Their enduring support, particularly for faculty, continues now with the creation of the Joyce H’22 and Andy Mandell ’61 Endowed Professorship, which was recently awarded to Elizabeth Swanson P’19, a professor of literature and human rights in the Arts & Humanities Division.
“Joyce and Andy have been longtime benefactors and advocates of Babson, and their most recent investment in support of our faculty is further validation of their belief in the unique educational experience we provide our students,” said Babson President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD. “Supporters like Joyce and Andy play a pivotal role in ensuring a Babson education remains innovative and rigorous, and we remain grateful for their continued commitment to our community.”
In many ways, Babson has been a north star for the Mandells over the past half-century. Andrew Mandell served as a trustee from 1980 to 1983 and as a member of Babson Corporation from 1980 to 1986, and they often returned to campus, contributing their time and expertise.
“Babson was always a place that Andy credited for the motivation for the process of his thinking,” Joyce Mandell said. “Babson was really the place where he was permitted to grow and to think and to plan and to work toward this goal that he had, which was to own his own business.
“He needed the tools, and he learned those tools at Babson,” she added. “I got those tools through osmosis.”
“When Andy and I talk about Babson, you can hear it in our voices. We are always impressed. Babson has always been a part of our lives.”
Joyce Mandell H’22
Joyce Mandell, too, had an entrepreneurial spirit, and her father also owned his own business, so she relished the opportunities to interact with faculty and students. At campus events, Joyce was often seated next to young women students, who benefited from her experiences and in turn inspired her.
“That was amazing, because I had never thought really about women going to a business school and having entrepreneurial sensibilities,” Joyce Mandell said. “So, that motivated me. Babson really was ahead of its time when it came to entrepreneurship for women.”
Inspired by her experiences, Joyce Mandell continued to invest her efforts to supporting Babson’s advancement of women in entrepreneurship. Her impact at Babson culminated with her receiving an honorary degree in 2022.
Along the way, the Mandells met Swanson in 2007. Joyce Mandell, who had produced the 2011 film The Rescuers, immediately bonded with the Arts & Humanities professor over mobilizing the arts to build stronger cultures of human rights. Joyce eventually sat in on a couple of Swanson’s classes, and they began corresponding and meeting over lunch. “I just was always very impressed,” Joyce Mandell said of Swanson. “You could feel her excitement.”
The burgeoning relationship led to the Mandells investing in Swanson and her work. She held The Andrew J. and Joyce D. Mandell Family Foundation Term Chair (2007–2012) and The Andrew J. and Joyce D. Mandell Family Foundation Senior Term Chair (2019–present).
The term chairs and support were critical to Swanson’s work, providing time and resources to conduct research that resulted in a range of publications, practical applications, and experiential learning opportunities for students.
As term chair, Swanson has published one monograph, seven co-edited volumes, and numerous articles at the intersection of literature and human rights, with an emphasis on testimonial and witness literatures. She also has launched entrepreneurial livelihood solutions for women and girls who were trafficked for sex; a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging consultancy, Jane’s Way, with Jane Edmonds (Babson’s vice president of community outreach and programming); and most recently, the Babson Venturing Out Prison Education Initiative.
“The Mandells’ consistent support has been critical to my ability to advance the arts and humanities, as well as human rights, at Babson and in my research,” Swanson said. “Their support has helped me to fulfill my potential as an entrepreneurial leader and Babson’s potential to fulfill its mission of supporting entrepreneurs of all kinds.”
Now, Swanson has been awarded the inaugural Joyce H’22 and Andy Mandell ’61 Endowed Professorship.
“My relationship with Joyce and Andy, and their family, is one of mutual respect, admiration, and joy,” Swanson said. “We share commitments to a more just world, and we believe in taking action to make that happen, wherever and however we can. My life is deeply enriched by our long-standing friendship and shared commitments, as is the life of Babson College, the fabric of which they have helped to shape.”
The Mandells’ objective is to create a lasting legacy that supports the work of professors such as Swanson, especially with a focus on women’s rights. “I’m very interested in continuing the program at Babson that features professors who take women seriously and take the issues of promoting women seriously,” Joyce Mandell said.
For the Mandells, it’s the continuation of their family’s investment in Babson as an institution. They were welcomed to Babson’s Weissman Circle of Distinction in 2019.
“When Andy and I talk about Babson, you can hear it in our voices. We are always impressed,” Joyce Mandell said. “Babson has always been a part of our lives.”
“The Mandells’ generosity is monumental, influencing everything from faculty life to residential life,” Swanson said. “The spark started when Andy was a student, and they have never stopped loving and supporting Babson’s unique community.”
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