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M.B.A. students receive boost through endowed fellowship

Retired investment counselor Robert Nanovic, a 1960 graduate of Lehigh University’s M.B.A. program, and his wife, Elizabeth, have made a gift to establish the Robert S. Nanovic ’60G Endowed Fellowship Fund for students in the Masters of Business Administration program in the College of Business and Economics. This $1 million gift will directly support the tuition of 10 students per year at Lehigh.

It is the latest in a series of gifts from the couple to Lehigh, which include support of Lehigh’s Shine Forever campaign, the university’s M.B.A. program, and the Rauch Business Center, the home of the College of Business and Economics.

Paul R. Brown, dean of the College of Business and Economics, says that this gift will build further on Lehigh’s great strengths: combining academic learning with practical skills in order to create the problem-solvers our society needs.

“The Nanovics’ generosity will give students, today and for generations to come, the opportunity to become those leaders of tomorrow,” Brown says.

Robert Nanovic, a native of Palmerton, Pa., is a first-generation American. After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1954, Nanovic served a tour of duty as an officer with the U.S. Army in Germany. He then returned to Bethlehem and, while working for the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, attended evening classes to earn his M.B.A. at Lehigh.

“The M.B.A. program at Lehigh provided me an opportunity to advance my education while pursuing a full-time business career,” Nanovic says. “Although demanding, the work/study endeavor proved invaluable. It’s an incredible interchange of academics and business.”

After earning his M.B.A., Nanovic moved to New York City to join the Treasurer’s Department of Freeport Sulphur Company. Then a former Lehigh professor, George Walters, recommended him to the General Tire and Rubber Company (Gencorp), where he managed the company’s retirement funds.

In 1972, Nanovic and his partner, Frank Wilkens, established their own investment firm, Wilkens and Nanovic Associates in Greenwich, Conn. The Nanovics’ well-established history of philanthropy includes the N.S. Nanovic Scholarship Fund at Notre Dame and scholarship funds at the University of Maine and Palmerton High School. Further, they established the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at Notre Dame, an interdisciplinary program promoting scholarly exchange and devoted to the study of issues essential to understanding contemporary Europe.

Robert Nanovic serves on the boards of trustees of the Portland Museum of Art and the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Portland, Maine. Although retired from the active board, he serves on the executive committee of Cheverus High School, a Jesuit Catholic college preparatory school for young men and women.

Elizabeth Nanovic earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hofstra University. The Nanovics have three children and six grandchildren. They divide their time between homes in Maine and Florida.

Story by Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Friday, July 23, 2010

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