New School president David Van Zandt has announced an $8.5 million path-breaking gift by the university’s chairman of the board of trustees, Joseph R. Gromek, to create The Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business at Parsons School of Design, a new academic hub that will inspire, educate, and develop the next generation of business, fashion, and organizational leaders. The gift, the largest from an individual donor in Parsons’ 123-year history, will strengthen the university’s educational mission through an endowed directorship and an additional faculty appointment.
The Gromek Institute will substantially enhance the interdisciplinary study of the business of fashion at Parsons School of Design. Drawing on the strengths of existing degree programs within Parsons, it will advance the breadth and depth of opportunities to educate, train, convene, and support a broad fashion business community at the university.
The Gromek Institute will further Parsons’ and The New School’s shared commitment to supporting creative business-minded students from around the world. Building on a curricular suite of management offerings across the university including the industry-leading Master of Professional Studies in Fashion Management, the academic structure will initially support an endowed directorship, an additional faculty appointment, as well as faculty and student research, collaborative external projects, social engagement, and public programming.
“We are deeply grateful to Joe and Gail Gromek for their far-reaching vision and generosity,” said Van Zandt. “This is a critical investment in the ideas and skills needed to effectively lead a business that will create exponential value not only for Parsons students and faculty but also for The New School as a whole. Joe’s extraordinary commitment to this new Institute will powerfully enhance Parsons’ capacity for teaching, research, innovation, and collaboration, and will open new frontiers of learning for generations to come.”
Mr. Gromek is the retired president and CEO of the Warnaco Group where he led the company through an unprecedented period of expansion. He is now a retail and apparel consultant and serves on the boards of Children’s Place, the Stanley M. Proctor Company, Hudson Executive Capital, and the Baker Retailing Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. In addition to serving as chairman of the board of trustees of The New School, Mr. Gromek is also a member of the Parsons board of governors, board of directors of The Ronald McDonald House of New York, and a member of the St. Peter’s University Board of Trustees. Mr. Gromek recently retired from the board of Wolverine World Wide and is the former chairman of the board of Tumi Inc.
An active philanthropist with a history of supporting health and higher education, Mr. Gromek has championed innovation and excellence across The New School, advancing new academic positions, programs, and other strategic initiatives. A member of the Parsons board of governors since 2005, Mr. Gromek joined The New School’s board of trustees in 2011 and was appointed Chairman in 2012. He has been recognized for his contributions to the apparel field and for his philanthropic work by a variety of organizations, including the Volunteers of America, Boy Scouts of America, UJA and American Jewish Committee.
“The Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business will prepare students to become the next generation of design leaders and entrepreneurs,” Mr. Gromek said. “My hope is that it will serve as the crossroads for the study of fashion business, retail and brand management, further establishing The New School as the premier destination for design education. This gift reflects Gail’s and my deep commitment to The New School, and we are delighted to support the creation of this innovative learning center.”
Dr. Rachel Schreiber, executive dean of Parsons School of Design, added, “Parsons has been a pioneer in art and design education since its founding in 1896, spearheading new movements and teaching methods that have propelled artists and designers creatively, entrepreneurially, and politically. I am exceedingly grateful for this gift, which will provide vital business and management training for students, and help secure a healthier, more sustainable, and more socially responsible future for fashion and other creative industries.”