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The 10 Mega-Gifts that Helped Rutgers Do Something It Has Never Done

New Brunswick, NJ, August 27, 2017 — Kelly Heyboer reports on The Star-Ledger that nearly 50,000 alumni, students and friends donated money to Rutgers University over the last year, giving the state university the most lucrative fundraising year in its history, school officials said.

Rutgers raised $209.1 million in the last fiscal year, an 11 percent increase over the previous record set in 2015, the university announced Monday.

The donations ranged from small checks written by new graduates to multi-million-dollar donations from wealthy alumni and foundations for scholarships, research and the sports program.

“Raising more than $200 million in one year sets a new standard that is critical to the institution and to all the people and causes the university reaches worldwide through education, research, and service,” said Nevin Kessler, president of the Rutgers University Foundation, the school’s fundraising arm.

Where the Money Came From

A record 49,736 donors pledged money to Rutgers during the fundraising year, which began July 1, 2016, and concluded June 30 of this year.

The fundraising surge comes as Rutgers has been stepping up its efforts to raise money. Though the university recently celebrated its 250th anniversary and is among the oldest colleges in the nation, its $1.2 billion endowment is considered small for a school of its size and age.

Part of the record-breaking fundraising year was a surge in the number of gifts over $1 million. In total, Rutgers collected $124 million in gifts in excess of $1 million.

The Rutgers Foundation did not release a complete list of this year’s biggest donations. But, here are 10 of the year’s most-notable gifts, according to Rutgers officials:

RWJBarnabas Health | $18 million

The donation will help create the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center, a multisport training complex and sports medicine program that is expected to significantly upgrade facilities for Rutgers’ sports teams.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation | Multiple large donations

One of Rutgers’ largest donors pledged several large health-related gifts, including: $5 million for the Child Health Institute of New Jersey at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; $4.18 million for the New Jersey Health Care Policy Center’s State Health Initiatives program; and $998,900 to help researchers measure community activities and assist organizations in building a “culture of health” in New Jersey.

Anonymous donor | $5 million

The unnamed donor pledged $5 million for Rutgers athletics.

Rodkin family | $3.2 million

Rutgers graduates Barbara and Gary Rodkin, head of ConAgra foods, and their family foundation gave gifts totaling $3.2 million to establish the Rodkin Science Scholars Endowment and the Rodkin Global Service-Learning Endowment at Douglass Residential College. The donations will also be used to fund the Rutgers Future Scholars program to help minority and low-income middle and high school students go to college.

Various donors honoring Gloria Steinem | $3 million

More than 430 donors gave money through a fundraising campaign to create the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies to honor the feminist icon. The money will be used to hire a professor to fill the chair to teach and do research in the field.

Filmmaker George Lucas, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg were among those who made donations to the $3 million campaign through their family foundations.

Marian Wissman | $3 million

Rutgers-Camden got the second endowed chair in its history when Marian Wissman pledged $3 million to create the Herman L. and Marilyn M. Wissman Chair in Economics in honor of her late brother and his wife, who were both Rutgers-Camden graduates and benefactors.

Good Ventures Foundation | $2.98 million

The Good Ventures Foundation, a foundation founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife, Cari Tuna, donated $2.98 million to the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences to support research on the impact of nuclear war being conducted by Alan Robock, a distinguished professor in the school.

Aimee Ramcharran and the de Chavez family | $1 million

Jayceryll Malabuyoc de Chavez, a Rutgers graduate who died at age 24 in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, will be honored with an endowed scholarship and excellence fund at Rutgers Business School thanks to a $1 million gift from fellow Rutgers graduate Aimee Ramcharran and his parents, Bibiano and Asuncion de Chavez.

The Pussycat Foundation | $1.37 million

The Pussycat Foundation, a non-profit set up by the estate of late Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, gave $1.37 million for leadership development and scholarships for women at the Honors Living-Learning Community at Rutgers-Newark.

Philip and Janice Levin Foundation | $1 million

The foundation, created in honor of New York real estate developers and art collectors Philip and Janice Levin, pledged $1 million for scholarships at Rutgers Law School and Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Follow Kelly Heyboer on Twitter @KellyHeyboer.