Janet Netz and Jeff MacKie-Mason

Janet Netz and Jeff MacKie-Mason

Last week, the School of Information was surprised and delighted to learn that UMSI Dean Jeff MacKie-Mason and his wife, Janet Netz, have committed an extremely generous gift of $2.5 million to the School of Information. The gift is among the largest ever made by a dean at the University of Michigan to his or her school or college.

The gift reflects the couple’s deep belief in UMSI and its ideals, they said. The school’s mission is to create and share knowledge so that people will use information — with technology — to build a better world.

“We’re proud of UMSI’s commitment to using information and technology to help create better lives,” Jeff said. “We’d like to see the great work continue for a long, long time. We care deeply about the school, the university, and the work that’s done here.”

“We both appreciate the real-world impact that academic research can have,” Janet added. “We’re happy to have the opportunity to support future generations of faculty working to identify the many ways in which the use information can improve lives everywhere.”

The bequest, part of the couple’s estate plans, is intended to establish the Jeffrey MacKie-Mason Professor of Information, a tenured faculty position within the school.

The dean’s and Janet’s bequest will launch the school’s campaign, part of the University’s larger Victors for Michigan comprehensive campaign, which kicks off November 8. “Faculty and staff across the university have been given tremendous opportunities at the University of Michigan to pursue our research and enjoy rewarding careers. It’s only appropriate that we take the opportunity to give back,” Jeff said.

Faculty, staff, and retirees gave more than $165 million in the University’s last comprehensive campaign, which concluded in 2008. Both Jeff and Janet are also U-M alumni.

Jeff is himself the holder of a named professorship: The Arthur W. Burks Collegiate Professor of Information and Computer Science. He has been a U-M faculty member since 1986 and was a founding faculty member of the re-chartered School of Information after it made its transition from the School of Information and Library Science in 1996. He is also a faculty member in the Department of Economics in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. In 2010, he received a University of Michigan Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.

He earned his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in environmental policy from Dartmouth College in 1980, his Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan in 1982, and his PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986.

Janet earned her bachelor’s degree cum laude in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1986, and her master’s (1990) and PhD (1992) in economics from the University of Michigan. She began her career in academia, earning tenure at Purdue University and teaching at U-M as a visiting professor. When she moved back to Ann Arbor, Janet founded the consulting firm applEcon LLC with several others, including Jeff. She offers expert testimony in antitrust cases on behalf of consumers who have been harmed by firms’ illegal and anticompetitive conduct.