Industry veterans Joseph and Gail Gromek have donated $8.5 million to The New School to create the Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business at Parsons School of Design, which will be an academic hub to educate and develop business, fashion and organizational leaders.

The gift, the largest donation by a single donor in the 123-year history of Parsons, will strengthen the university’s mission through an endowed directorship and an additional faculty appointment, according to New School president David Van Zandt, who revealed the donation.

“The industry has been very kind to Gail and myself. This is a chance to show our appreciation,” Gromek told WWD. “The Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute for Fashion Business will prepare students to become the next generation of design leaders and entrepreneurs. My hope is that it will serve as the crossroads for the study of fashion business, retail and brand management.”

Gromek serves as the university’s chairman of the board of trustees, works as a retail and apparel consultant, and is the retired president and chief executive officer of the Warnaco Group. He is also a former chairman of Tumi, a former chairman and ceo of Brooks Brothers, and a former merchant at Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Ann Taylor and Limited. He is on the boards of Children’s Place, the Stanley M. Proctor Co., Hudson Executive Capital and the Baker Retailing Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He is also a member of the Parsons board of governors and the board of the Ronald McDonald House of New York, among other affiliations and philanthropic endeavors.

Gail Gromek, whose maiden name is Pisano, is a former top merchant at Saks Fifth Avenue, where she worked for 15 years and rose to executive vice president for women’s designer merchandise, intimate apparel, accessories, shoes and jewelry.

Joseph Gromek 

“We are deeply grateful to Joe and Gail Gromek for their far-reaching vision and generosity,” Van Zandt said. “This is a critical investment in the ideas and skills needed to effectively lead business that will create exponential value not only for Parsons students and faculty, but also for The New School as a whole.

Parsons School of Design, based in Greenwich Village in New York, offers undergraduate and graduate programs in art and design disciplines and is one of the five colleges of The New School.

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