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Endowed Professorship to Focus on Women, Leadership

Diane Kagen Trust ’77GS recently gave $1.5 million to endow a professorship in her name at Simmons. She says her philanthropic commitment to her alma mater springs directly from personal experience.

“My husband and I both came from working-class backgrounds. Our successes in life were because of other people’s contributions to our educations. We believe we must give back in the same way,” says Trust, who earned a master’s degree in English literature from Simmons in 1977. 

The Diane Kagen Trust ’77GS Professorship for Leadership Development

President Helen Drinan says she’s very grateful to Diane Trust for pursuing her philanthropic goals at Simmons. “An endowed professorship is prestigious and signals to the world we have made a long-term commitment to a particular field, in this case our strong, strategic focus on, and expertise in women’s leadership development,” says President Drinan.

Simmons will appoint a different faculty member to the Diane Kagen Trust ’77GS Professorship every three years. Professor of Practice Mary Shapiro of the Simmons School of Management has the honor of being the first Diane Kagen Trust Professor. 

Trust says her intent for the professorship is to help ensure that more women launch their careers well prepared to succeed as effective leaders. “Today, more women have opportunities to be in major positions in large companies, but I’m not sure the glass ceiling has been broken,” Trust observes.

Trust herself embarked on a business track early on; she began her undergraduate studies working during the day and attending college at night. After marrying and moving to New Hampshire, her husband encouraged her to finish her degree by going full time. She attended Mount Saint Mary’s College (now closed) which was not far from their home and earned her B.A. She later helped her husband, entrepreneur Martin Trust, launch an apparel business in their basement — an enterprise that ultimately grew into a large, successful, worldwide corporation. 

“As the business took off, I stepped away to attend graduate school” says Trust. “I chose Simmons because I enjoyed the benefits of attending a small, women’s undergraduate college, and I wanted the same kind of student-centered experience again. It turned out exactly as I hoped!

”Trust has focused her philanthropy at Simmons on the pillars of any academic community: students and faculty. A steady supporter of The Simmons Fund, she also has created a scholarship establishing the Trust Family Scholars. “Scholarships are so vital. My husband graduated from Cooper Union and MIT’s Sloan School of Management thanks to scholarships,” says Trust. “Things would have turned out very different without those opportunities.”




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