By BIANCA LOPEZ
If you have ever been to the eighth floor of the Innovation and Collaboration Building (ICB) or even just wondered about the mysterious land situated above Starbucks, then you have probably heard of John P. Lowth–or have at least experienced his UT legacy.
Lowth, the namesake of the John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, passed away on April 9, just 20 days shy of his 57th birthday. The official cause of death has yet to be released. Lowth lived in Kings Park, New York, on Long Island. He was an alumnus of UT’s class of 1982, a member of the Board of Trustees, and a parent of a current UT student, Ryan Lowth. Lowth was a generous and longtime donor, according to Eric Cardenas, director of public information at UT.
As a major donor, Lowth had a vision for UT, a vision that culminated with the entrepreneurship center. The center, unlike any other space on campus, contains colorful pods and office spaces designed for students to bring their business plans to life.
“I think one of the things John wanted was he wanted a space where students could put into practice what they learned in the classroom, and that’s exactly what this space is,” said Giles Hertz, associate professor of business law and entrepreneurship. “There’s no classroom space up here on the eighth floor, it’s all for experiential education where the students do exactly that.”
As a student at UT, Lowth studied criminology. However, after graduating, he helped found and later became president of Arnone, Lowth, Wilson, Leibowitz, Adriano & Greco LLC, a life insurance firm. Rebecca White, the director of the entrepreneurship center, said Lowth embodied the entrepreneurial spirit and that, as a student, Lowth would have benefitted and enjoyed having this program available to him.
“The thing that I recall about [Lowth] that was so powerful, one of the things that really engaged and excited him about this center, was that it could be for any major,” White said. “He was a criminology major, but he was a businessperson, by profession, and very entrepreneurial in the way that he looked at the world and very much epitomized, I think, what this program is all about.”
The eighth floor center is available to any student who has an idea for a business. Students from all concentrations, not only entrepreneurship, have made use of Lowth’s center to build companies like LiftSync, Spared and NOMO Nausea.
“Everyone has ideas; the real difference is, how do you execute those ideas?” Hertz said. “That’s what this space is about. And because of [Lowth’s] generous donation, that’s what it’s allowed. I think he really wanted to give back to his alma mater and he did in a big way.”
John Publicover, a 2016 graduate who majored in international business and finance, started his company, Storedby, in the John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center. After graduating, Publicover left the center’s “accelerator” program, which is exclusive to student entrepreneurs, and joined the “incubator,” a lab meant for alumni and community businesses.
Publicover owes much of his success to Lowth’s influence, saying that the center and Lowth’s personal guidance helped pave the way for his business to flourish.
“[Lowth] was more than willing to chat on the phone when he wasn’t in town, to meet with me for coffee when he was in town,” Publicover said.
Lowth offered students his insights and connected them with professionals he had established relationships with throughout his own work with insurance planning for high net worth estates. Publicover said he was grateful that Lowth put so much of his own efforts into businesses from which he would see no personal financial gain.
“[Lowth] benefitted because he knew that it helped a student and a student-run company go on the pathway towards success,” Publicover said. “His insight and his advice and the resources he was able to provide myself, definitely helped grow the company to where it is today. I think what John has done, by allowing the center to exist, and to give his advice and his insight and all his resources, will absolutely not only build his legacy but the legacy of anyone who has been touched by the center.”