August 27, 2008

Region Boosts Rutgers Fund Raising


A Clifton native and two high school students from Bergen County are among those who helped make this a record-breaking year for private fund raising at Rutgers University.

The state university reported Tuesday that private gifts and pledges to the school reached $121 million in 2007-08 an increase of 9 percent over the previous year.

The Mario Family Foundation awarded $5 million to support graduate fellowships in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. The school is named for an alumnus and philanthropist who grew up in Clifton and went on to become a successful pharmaceutical executive. The pharmacy school was named for him after his family made another $5 million donation in 2001.

Adam Schwartz and Alex Sonageri, students at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, also contributed to the total raised. The boys, both of Upper Saddle River, have raised $42,000 for a recently established Emergency Scholarship Fund that helps with tuition for Rutgers students who would otherwise have to drop out because of misfortune - such as illness or unemployment.

The boys got the idea after Schwartz's dad called Rutgers last spring and was told that it was "de-registration day," the time during each semester when students who can't pay tuition must drop out.

The boys, both sophomores then, met with officials from Rutgers and developed a PowerPoint presentation that they could make to donors. They said they then met with contacts in their town who put them in touch with potential donors.

To date, they have made two grants - including one to a student about to undergo a year's worth of chemotherapy. Their goal is to raise $100,000 to endow the fund so that it will generate enough interest each year to be self-perpetuating, said Sonageri.

Rutgers is making a push for private funding as state support constricts. President Richard L. McCormick said the vast majority of the money is committed to supporting students, faculty and academic programs.

"Despite difficult economic times, many individuals, foundations and corporations have again demonstrated unprecedented confidence in Rutgers and our commitment to academic excellence," McCormick said.

More than $34 million has been designated for student support, including scholarships; $32 million for faculty development and more than $36 million for program support at the university.

Carol P. Herring, president of the Rutgers University Foundation, said Rutgers' profile continues to rise nationally thanks to alumni like Junot Diaz, who won the Pulitzer Prize for literature this year.

Some of the larger donations include:

* $10.5 million awarded to health-related programs by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

* $3 million for a chair in cancer research from Jerome and Lorraine Aresty of Morristown.

* $2.8 million to support humanities graduate programs from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

* $5 million from Prudential to help support Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick, including an endowed chair and a center dedicated to business ethics and leadership.

* $2 million from Public Service Enterprise Group to support the Newark business school.


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