It's Official! NJIT Unveils Leir Research Institute for Business, Technology, and Society

Written by: Julie Jacobs,
On hand to celebrate the opening of the new Leir Research Institute were (from left) Fadi Deek, NJIT; Joel Bloom, NJIT; Jack S.C. Fong, M.D., The Lear Retreat Center; Margot Gibis, The Leir Charitable Foundations; and Reggie Caudill, NJIT.

It was a gathering to not only inaugurate a new research institute on the NJIT campus, but also celebrate a longstanding relationship between the university and a committed foundation partner and benefactor. On April 30, NJIT administrators, faculty, staff and students, as well as distinguished guests, joined one another in the Campus Center Ballrooms to officially launch The Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Research Institute for Business, Technology, and Society, made possible with a five-year $1.5 million grant from The Leir Charitable Foundations.

The institute, housed within NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management (MTSM), will develop business data science tools to predict and mitigate risks from global disruptions, such as climate change and other operational events, to corporations’ economic security, environmental accountability and social responsibility. Toward this end, it has a dual mission: to conduct business and management research and to establish partnerships with academic and business communities, regional economic leaders and government agencies. It will also support annual research symposia and fellowships for faculty and graduate students.

The Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Research Institute for Business, Technology, and Society (top and bottom) is housed within Martin Tuchman School of Management.

“I am so honored to be here at the inauguration of The Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Research Institute for Business, Technology, and Society,” said Margot Gibis, president of The Leir Charitable Foundations. “I am very happy to see what has come out of the special partnership with NJIT. I want to thank [NJIT President Emeritus] Saul Fenster, whose relationship with Mr. Leir goes back many, many years.”

Noted Jack S.C. Fong, M.D., on the board of directors of The Leir Retreat Center, “At the Lear Research Institute, faculty members along with graduate and undergraduate students will be able to focus on research to help businesses in applied technology so that they will be more efficient, more sustainable, resilient and ecologically supported.” This effort, he added “will lead to social prosperity and wellness, bringing pride and fulfillment to the legacy of Dr. and Mrs. Leir.”

The event featured a timely panel discussion about cognitive techniques and innovative management strategies to enhance corporate sustainability, resiliency and agility — which featured, among others, industry leaders Kumar Bhashkaran, research scientist, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, and John Schwall, COO, IEX. Following this discussion as well as lunch and networking, attendees made their way to the institute. Located on the second floor of the MTSM building, the airy and contemporary space features offices, conference rooms and a dedicated lab for Ph.D. students to conduct research. MTSM Dean Reggie Caudill had the honor of unveiling the institute’s signage.

NJIT President Emeritus Saul Fenster
(From left) Panelists William Rapp, MTSM faculty; Shravanthi Budhi, MTSM student; Kumar Bhaskaran, IBM research scientist; Yi Chen, MTSM faculty; and John Schwall, IEX COO

“We want to continue to build upon the values of the Leir family and their legacy and…to embed these core virtues into our students, not only today but for future generations as well,” he said.

Henry J. Leir was a 20th-century industrialist and philanthropist whose foundations have supported NJIT for more than two decades. Through this generosity, the university has endowed two faculty chairs, held research conferences and established The Leir Center for Financial Bubble Research at MTSM.