The Fashion Institute of Technology has established the Bob Fisch Graduate Student Award Program.
Fisch, former chairman and chief executive officer of Rue21, is also an award-winning author of “Fisch Tales: The Making of a Millennial Baby Boomer,” and FIT Foundation director.
The program, which includes a $300,000 gift and an intergenerational mentoring strategy, features an award for entrepreneurial excellence, thesis project grants, and graduate scholarships for students in FIT’s Fashion Design MFA and Global Fashion Management MPS programs. Fisch will mentor students as well.
“Thanks to Bob’s commitment to nurturing creativity in the next generation of industry leaders, FIT is the proud recipient of this $300,000 gift,” said Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president of FIT. “It will establish an unprecedented series of opportunities that will benefit students in our graduate Global Fashion Management and Fashion Design programs.”
“I am delighted to present this gift to FIT to help nurture the careers of future leaders in the retail space,” said Fisch. “As the leading college of its kind in America, FIT serves as a major talent pipeline, which I hope to enrich through the establishment of this new program. I’m a firm believer in the benefits of intergenerational bonding and mutual mentoring as there is much I can learn from the students’ questions and curiosity, just as they can learn from my answers and experience. I teach them business…they teach me life.”
The program includes a $25,000 award for entrepreneurial excellence, given to one standout recipient with the best business plan and design presented during the graduate capstone ceremony. Ten graduate scholarships for academic excellence will be awarded to students in the Global Fashion Management and Fashion Design programs. It also includes 33 thesis project completion grants for students in the Global Fashion Management MPS and Fashion Design MFA programs.
Besides establishing the awards program, Fisch is also an active member of the FIT Foundation, guest lecturer and mentor and adviser at FIT. Under Fisch’s leadership, Rue21 was the subject of FIT’s Fashion Merchandising Capstone Project in 2016.
Fisch, who is known as a pioneering merchant in value-priced, fast-fashion retailing, joined Rue21 in 2001 and took the retailer from bankruptcy to an initial public offering, building a national network of 1,200 stores and billion-dollar-plus value. Today, he owns the registration and intellectual property for Millennial Baby Boomer and continues to build on this brand. He is the president of RNF Group, a consulting company focused on the assessment and evaluation of retail and other business enterprises, as well as providing mentoring services to management of these companies.
Before joining Rue21, Fisch was president of Casual Corner Group Inc. and founded the Casual Corner & Co. outlet division. He also served as president and CEO of T.H. Mandy and senior vice president of Jordan Marsh. He started his career at Abraham & Straus.
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