Sylvester Foundation endows professorship

New endowed chair accelerates the engine of entrepreneurship at Lynn.

Sylvester sisters sitting with Lauri Olivier in the International Business Center
Dr. Lauri Olivier, Laura Sylvester and Jayne Malfitano

Founded in 1911 in Rochester, New York, by the Sylvester family under the name F.A. Smith Manufacturing Co., FASCO Industries was a start-up that became a manufacturing giant. Its motors, blowers and condensers have operated in millions of American households for decades, though most homeowners likely never knew it, unless their ceiling fan needed a replacement part. 

After FASCO was sold in 1980, its president, Harcourt M. Sylvester Jr., began his life’s work of investing the proceeds of the sale in charitable causes. The Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester Foundation has donated more than $75 million to cancer research, disaster relief, community services and higher education.

Much of its philanthropy has been quiet, behind-the-scenes work, like a motor that keeps organizations humming along nicely.

This is true of its most recent gift to Lynn, a quiet powerhouse of an endowment for the College of Business and Management. It has made a significant donation to create the Sylvester Foundation Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship.

“The chair will have the opportunity to work closely with students to develop creative and innovative solutions,” said Jayne Malfitano of the Sylvester Foundation. “Our intent was to assist Lynn in fostering intellectual diversity by recruiting and retaining great faculty members.”

The endowed chair expands the entrepreneurship major, teaching students how to develop and nurture a young business, with skills like raising capital and valuing a business.

My goal is to create an entrepreneurial climate throughout Lynn where students have the resources and guidance to build their dreams.

Dr. Lauri Olivier, Sylvester Foundation Endowed Chair

Beginning in the fall term 2017, Dr. Lauri Olivier will serve as the first Sylvester Foundation Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship. Olivier has a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Duke University and an MBA from Northwestern University. 

The chair will also serve as director of the Snyder Idea Lab, which allows students from all disciplines to collaborate with local entrepreneurs and professors to transform start-up concepts into ready-to-launch businesses.

"My goal is to create an entrepreneurial climate throughout Lynn where students have the resources and guidance to build their dreams," Dr. Olivier said.

Malfitano and her sister, Laura Sylvester, believe their father, Harcourt Sylvester, who died in 2007, would have been pleased that the endowment will motivate students eager to start up powerhouse companies of their own.

“Our grandfather and father grew FASCO into a thriving company,” Sylvester said. “It’s exciting to think we will play a small part in so many bright futures.”

Malfitano hopes the endowment inspires Lynn students to become opportunity hunters.

“Our goal is to encourage them to discover their unique personal talents, passions and values and to develop the ability to think outside the box.” 

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