Quinnipiac receives $1 million gift to create the Novak Family Polish Chair

The Central European Institute hosted representatives from universities and businesses from Bialystok, Poland in October 2013
In October 2013, The Central European Institute hosted representatives from universities and businesses from Bialystok, Poland, to expand their knowledge of U.S. business practices and business in Connecticut.

Feb. 3, 2014 - A $1 million gift from Pete and Kasia Novak of Longmeadow, Mass. will fund a new academic chair at Quinnipiac University.

The Novak Family Polish Chair is being established in support of the Central European Institute (CEI) at Quinnipiac University and will lead to the establishment of the Polish American Business Leader Scholars Program. Quinnipiac will match the Novaks' gift, creating a $2 million fund in perpetuity.

"The Novak Family Polish Chair is an enormous addition to the CEI. It will allow us to replicate what we have done in Hungary, thus strengthening our ties to this important region," said Christopher Ball, director of the institute and the István Széchenyi Chair in International Economics in the School of Business.

The CEI builds bridges between the United States and the nations of Central Europe by fostering relationships in three main areas: academic, business and culture. Within the University the CEI is an umbrella organization under which country-specific endowed chairs are established to develop relations between the United States and their respective countries. The Széchenyi Chair was established in 2008 to foster relations with Hungary. Ball now serves as honorary consul of Hungary for the state of Connecticut.

Pete Novak, a member of the Central European Institute board, is general agent of Charter Oak Insurance and Financial Services Co. Headquartered in Holyoke, Mass., Charter Oak is a local agency of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company and has offices across Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. Novak also is on the Board of Trustees of The Kosciuszko Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting educational and cultural exchanges between the United States and Poland and to increasing American understanding of Polish culture and history.

"Kasia and I are pleased to provide the funding for a chair at Quinnipiac University that will further enhance the efforts of the CEI while paying tribute to our heritage," said Pete Novak. "Professor Ball has done a remarkable job building the Institute so I am confident that our investment will make a real impact in Poland."

The Polish American Business Leader Scholars Program will provide annual scholarships for Polish students to pursue their MBA at Quinnipiac and gain corporate experience at American companies before returning to Poland. "This type of program has been a remarkable success with students from Hungary," Ball said. "They not only gain the valuable technical skills necessary to compete in a global marketplace, they also benefit from learning 'soft skills' that so many companies desire."