Zubrow gift endows economics professorship

Jan Zubrow and Barry Zubrow
Jan Rock Zubrow '77 with her husband, Barry.

Jan Rock Zubrow ’77 fulfilled a lifelong dream in December with a year-end gift to Cornell’s Department of Economics to establish the Zubrow Professorship of Economics. “You can’t have a great university without a great economics department – they go hand in hand,” she says.

The creation of the new universitywide economics department in 2011 – and department chair Kevin Hallock’s vision for its future – inspired Zubrow’s gift. “It gives me so much joy to do this,” she says. “I think Cornell is positioned extremely well for the future, with great leadership in the economics department, the colleges and the university, so it feels like the right time to invest in the economics faculty.”

Commitment to education has been a hallmark of Zubrow’s involvement with Cornell, says Gretchen Ritter, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Zubrow and her husband, Barry, feel that a strong economics department is key to having a successful arts and sciences institution and research university, and Ritter points out that the Zubrows’ gift “will help not only the department, but the college as a whole, since the college’s strength depends on having great core departments, like economics. We are very grateful for this gift and for all that Jan does and has done for Cornell.”

“It’s wonderful to have the Zubrow family associated with our department in this way,” adds Hallock, the Donald C. Opatrny ’74 Chair of Cornell’s Department of Economics and the Joseph R. Rich ’80 Professor of Economics and of Human Resources Studies. “The gift of the Zubrow Professorship of Economics comes at an important time. We are making excellent progress in building the department, and this gift will help us to continue to attract and retain star faculty.”

A member of the board of trustees since 1998, Zubrow is chair of the Executive Committee and co-chair of the Cornell NYC Tech campus task force. Hallock calls her a “tireless volunteer for and benefactor of Cornell.” Zubrow has co-chaired past Cornell campaigns (“Far Above … the Campaign for Cornell” and “Cornell Victorious, the Campaign for Athletics”). She also served on the Life Sciences Advisory Board Leadership Group and the Athletics Advisory Council. An active member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women since 1991, Zubrow was chair 1997-99. She also has served on the Class of 1977’s 25th and 30th Reunion Major Gifts committees and as a member of the class’s 35th Reunion Campaign committee.

Zubrow majored in economics at Cornell. She also took courses in history and government because, she says, “to understand the world you need to understand economics. What’s wonderful about Cornell is that we have both theoretical and applied economics courses, so I learned about macro and microeconomic theories, but also how to read a balance sheet and analyze a company’s financial position. You can’t do that in most liberal arts institutions, but because of Cornell’s breadth, you can.”

This depth of understanding was particularly important to Zubrow, who went on to a successful business career. She is CEO of MedCapital LLC, a venture capital firm investing in early stage health and life sciences companies. She serves as a director or adviser to the companies in which she invests.

In addition to her Cornell activities, Zubrow serves on the boards of New Leaders, an organization focused on K-12 education reform; and Women for Women International, which supports women survivors of war.

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences. 

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