MacKie-Mason and Netz help establish UMSI professorship

The University of Michigan and the School of Information (UMSI) announced on Thursday, October 17, that UMSI’s dean, Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, and his wife, Janet Netz, have committed to a gift of $2.5 million to the school. The gift is among the largest made by a dean at U-M to his or her school or college.

The gift is an indication of MacKie-Mason’s and Netz’s deep belief in UMSI and its ideals, they said. The school’s mission is to create and share knowledge so that people will use information -- with technology -- to build a better world.

“We’re proud of UMSI’s commitment to using information and technology to help create better lives,” MacKie-Mason said. “We’d like to see the great work continue for a long, long time. We care deeply about the school, the university, and the work that’s done here.”

“We both appreciate the real-world impact that academic research can have,” Netz said. “We’re happy to have the opportunity to support future generations of faculty working to identify the many ways in which the use information can improve lives everywhere.”

The bequest, part of the couple’s estate plans, is intended to establish the Jeffrey MacKie-Mason Professor of Information, a tenured faculty position within the school.

“Our gift is among the first from faculty and staff in the university’s new fundraising campaign, but I expect there to be many such contributions,” MacKie-Mason said. The dean’s and Netz’s bequest will launch the school’s campaign, part of the University’s larger Victors for Michigan comprehensive campaign, which kicks off November 8. “Faculty and staff across the university have been given tremendous opportunities at the University of Michigan to pursue our research and enjoy rewarding careers. It’s only appropriate that we take the opportunity to give back.”

Faculty, staff, and retirees gave more than $165 million in the University’s last comprehensive campaign, which concluded in 2008. Both MacKie-Mason and Netz are also U-M alumni.

“Outstanding faculty are the foundation of the University’s excellence,” said Provost Martha Pollack. “This generous gift will help ensure that UMSI continues to attract the kind of faculty that make it an innovative and boundary-breaking center of research and teaching.”

MacKie-Mason is himself the holder of a named professorship: The Arthur W. Burks Collegiate Professor of Information and Computer Science. He has been a U-M faculty member since 1986 and was a founding faculty member of the re-chartered School of Information after it made its transition from the School of Information and Library Science in 1996. He is also a faculty member in the Department of Economics in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. In 2010, he received a University of Michigan Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.

The dean earned his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in environmental policy from Dartmouth College in 1980, his Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan in 1982, and his Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986.

Janet Netz earned her bachelor’s degree cum laude in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1986, and her master’s (1990) and Ph.D. (1992) in economics from the University of Michigan. She began her career in academia, earning tenure at Purdue University and teaching at U-M as a visiting professor. When she moved back to Ann Arbor, Netz  founded the consulting firm applEcon LLC with several others, including MacKie-Mason. She offers expert testimony in antitrust cases on behalf of consumers who have been harmed by firms’ illegal and anticompetitive conduct.

posted on thursday, october 17, 2013