Former Connecticut State Sen. Antonietta “Toni” Boucher ’02 MBA and her husband, Henry “Bud” Boucher, had a lot to celebrate in 2020. They had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and Bud, a management consultant and entrepreneur, had reached his greatest career success. The couple had always wanted to do philanthropic work, and now they would have the financial means to do so.
Then Bud was diagnosed with leukemia.
When he passed away just weeks later, Toni made it her mission to carry out the philanthropy she and Bud had planned.
Toni made an $8 million naming gift to create the Boucher Management & Entrepreneurship Department in the UConn School of Business. The naming of the department was approved by the UConn Board of Trustees on Wednesday.
“I loved my husband deeply. It was heartbreaking that he had lived for this moment and wasn’t here to see it through,” Toni says. “But I felt as though he could do the work through me, as though I were his surrogate.”
Toni also created the Henry “Bud” Boucher Faculty Fellowship and added to the Toni Boucher Scholarship Fund, which she had established in 2004. When the opportunity came to do something bigger within the entrepreneurial space, she jumped at the chance to make a difference in an area in which she and Bud were both passionate.
“Toni Boucher has a keen understanding of the impact entrepreneurship has on the economy, as well as the critical role UConn plays for the State of Connecticut,” says UConn President Radenka Maric. “Her visionary support through the Boucher Management & Entrepreneurship Department will prepare even more future entrepreneurs who will in turn fuel the state’s economy, creating a ripple effect of positive change. We are deeply grateful for her passion and dedication to UConn and Connecticut.”
The gift—which is the University’s first departmental naming and the largest individual gift to the School of Business—will enable the School to launch new programming that will expand its successful footprint in education for founders, inventors, and scientists. It will double the teaching capacity of the new student venture fund program and provide flexible resources to pilot new programs that will prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.
Dr. Greg Reilly, head of the Boucher Management & Entrepreneurship Department, highlights the transformative potential of the recent gift from Toni Boucher.
“This gift will empower us to serve students from diverse academic backgrounds at UConn, as we work together to transform innovative ideas into successful businesses,” he says.
Reilly explains that the partnership with other schools at UConn brings together complementary expertise.
“We bring a wealth of knowledge about growing successful businesses, while students, faculty, and experts from STEM fields provide domain and technical knowledge for understanding needs and developing innovative products,” he says. “Toni has made this gift to help turn inventions into successful businesses. Thanks to her support, we can help STEM startups thrive through education, investment, and problem-solving support.”
“Demand for entrepreneurship education is at an all-time high among students, and a strong management and entrepreneurship department plays a critical part in training these future business leaders,” says UConn School of Business Dean John A. Elliott. “I am thankful for Toni’s gift, which provides transformative support that will propel the School of Business—a top 25 business school among public research institutions—to even greater success.”
Toni says that this gift allows her to honor Bud’s legacy and entrepreneurial spirit while making an investment in the economy and the state of Connecticut.
“We are all concerned with social justice, with creating more fairness and equity in the economic landscape of our state, our country, and our world. This is my way to help in that area by creating opportunities for entrepreneurship of startup companies and great ideas,” she says. “The majority of these will fail, but those who succeed will create jobs. For me, the best social justice program is creating job opportunities, for everyone at every level, so that they can elevate and better their lives, and in turn, improve the economy of where we live.”