Honorary Degree Recipients Announced for UMass Amherst Commencement

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AMHERST, Mass. – Two alumni, a career military officer and a businessman who is a lifelong supporter of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and its athletics program, will be bestowed honorary degrees during the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 10 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

Major General Jody J. Daniels

Major General Jody J. Daniels is the commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 88th Readiness Division stationed at Fort McCoy, Wis., and senior commander at Fort McCoy. She oversees the services and base operations support for more than 55,000 soldiers and civilians at 277 sites, spanning 19 states in the northwestern U.S.

Daniels earned a master’s and Ph.D. in computer science at UMass Amherst. She says she chose the university based on the reputation of the computer science department and the compelling research in artificial intelligence that was taking place at UMass in the late 1980s. With UMass’ emphasis on interdisciplinary work, she was introduced to a range of areas and a large body of research. “It gave me an awareness of areas I would never have known anything about and has helped me appreciate the value of diverse perspectives.” She went on to complete a master’s in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.

With over 35 years of military service, Daniels has held a variety of key positions. She served in support and leadership roles for the U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, as commanding general of the 87th Army Reserve Support Command (East) in Birmingham, Ala., and deputy commanding general, support, for First Army Division East, in Fort Meade, Md. She has served as commander of Theater Support Command, which consisted of 11 military intelligence (MI) battalions, and in numerous leadership positions, including command of a MI company in Korea, a basic training battalion in New Jersey, and an MI group in Massachusetts. Most recently, Daniels was chief of staff of U.S. Forces Command.

In her current command, which she began in December, Daniels is leading the division in assuming new regional missions previously held by other commands, transitioning these missions so that there is no interruption in services. Her goal is to continue to help units across the 19-state region achieve ever higher rates of readiness in every facet of their service.

Martin G. Jacobson

Martin G. Jacobson started his career in the world of athletics at the age of 9, when he and his older brother Dick began selling pennants outside the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Conn. By the 1980s, he and Dick owned Nutmeg Industries, a leading manufacturer of upscale sports apparel, with licensing deals with the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA and many colleges and universities.  

A graduate of the Isenberg School of Management, where he earned a B.A. in 1968, Jacobson has remained a lifelong supporter of UMass Amherst, giving generously of his time and resources.

After Jacobson graduated from UMass, he joined his father and brother in the family business, Mr. Panel, a building and wall-panel supply company in East Longmeadow, Mass. They sold the business in 1973 after it had grown to a chain of 63 stores in nine states. Now living in Florida, the Jacobson brothers engaged in several business ventures, including a sportswear manufacturing company. Eventually, they acquired two more clothing companies, and combined the three into Nutmeg Industries, named in honor of their native state of Connecticut. Nutmeg began manufacturing college sports apparel when most was available only in campus stores, and they were among the first to build a business licensing from universities and pro sports leagues.

In 1994, the brothers sold Nutmeg Industries to the Vanity Fair Corp. Jacobson served as president and director of Glenell Associates until his retirement in 2016. He remains an avid sports fan and golfer.

Jacobson’s service to the university has included sitting on the Athletics Leadership Advisory Council, the Isenberg Dean’s Top Engagement Group, the Clark Society, and the UMass Amherst Foundation. In 1999, the Alumni Association honored him with the Distinguished Professional and University Service Award.

Given his love of sports, Jacobson has been particularly generous to UMass Athletics. He and his brother Dick funded improvements to McGuirk Alumni Stadium, which include the Martin and Richard Jacobson Press and Skybox Complex. More recently, he provided the lead gift that will fund fan-amenity upgrades at McGuirk, including new restrooms, ADA railings and a high-definition scoreboard, and build a seasonal air-supported indoor training facility that will benefit all UMass student-athletes, vastly expanding their winter training options. In recognition of his generous philanthropy, the UMass Football Performance Center was named for Jacobson in August 2018. 

Contact: Ed Blaguszewski 414/545-0444 or [email protected]