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Dunton family gift endows Northeastern’s first-ever deanship

Effective leaders inspire others and are passionate ambassadors for their organizations, says Gary Dunton, DMSB’78. That’s why he and his wife, Lea Anne, are supporting the D’Amore-McKim School of Business with a historic gift, endowing the first-ever deanship at Northeastern.

“The business school gave me the credentials and the skills to do well,” Dunton says. “We like the direction it’s going in, and we want others to benefit from their experiences as students.”

Dunton points to one experience in particular, during his undergraduate studies, that helped develop his vision for the business leader he wanted to become. While on co-op with a Fortune 500 company in his third year at Northeastern, he found himself watching a dispute unfold between two executives in a board meeting that rapidly escalated into an all-out, expletive-filled verbal sparring match. Mouth agape, Dunton was embarrassed by their one-upmanship.

“Early on, I learned about the facets of leadership and how to leverage patience, persistence, and honesty,” he says. “That’s a tough package to beat.”

Those traits buoyed Dunton in the competitive finance and insurance industries, he says, and helped him rise to executive roles at Aetna, USF&G, and finally MBIA, Inc., where he served as president, CEO, and chairman.

Early on, I learned about the facets of leadership and how to leverage patience, persistence, and honesty,” he says. “That’s a tough package to beat.
—Gary Dunton, DMSB’78

Through the Dunton Family Deanship, the couple will provide a permanent flow of resources that the dean can use to empower students, advance faculty, and support new and existing programs. “We’re proud to link our name to Northeastern,” says Lea Anne Dunton. “The university is like family to us.”

The Duntons have forged many ties to the university besides the deanship. Gary mentors students and is a member of Northeastern’s corporation and the DMSB Dean’s Executive Council, while Lea Anne co-chairs the Parents of Alumni subcommittee and is an advisor to Mosaic, an alliance of student-led organizations that support emerging entrepreneurs. In 2015, daughter Julia graduated, like her father, with a bachelor’s degree in finance, and she works at BlackRock Financial Planning and Investment Management in Boston.

The Duntons have encouraging words for alumni and friends wanting to get more involved at Northeastern. Find what interests you outside your profession. You’ll make friends and relish the experience, they say. But most of all, “You’ll have fun.”

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