Not just defining an entrance into the Rutgers-Camden campus, the Gateway Project raised more than $4 million in endowed support for programs and initiatives that continueto benefit the students, faculty, staff, and graduates of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Below are just a few examples of the individuals who took leadership roles in building the Gateway Project:
George Mamo, vice president for the Fellowship of Christians and Jews, started his relationship with Rutgers-Camden by fixing the duplicating machines in the registrar's office. He had some spare change in his pocket, so he signed up for classes. Today, he serves on the Dean's Leadership Council, and he and his wife endow a scholarship at the university.
"I'm the first one in my family to attend let alone graduate from college," says Mamo. "I want to make it possible for someone to not have the worries that I had."
He also helped lead the charge to bring the Gateway Project to life at Rutgers-Camden. "The Gateway is symbolic of the new era where Rutgers-Camden is starting to have an identity of its own, and an alumni basis of its own," says Mamo, who now lives in Chicago. "The Gateway is a very visible statement to current students, parents, members of the community and a reminder that this is a university that needs our support."
Dr. Sylvia Bidwell
Dr. Sylvia Bidwell is a graduate of Rutgers-New Brunswick, but she has strong ties to the Camden campus as well. Aside from taking a few summer courses here, her father, Dr. Leonard Bidwell, was a long-time mathematics professor at Rutgers-Camden for more than 30 years. He passed away in 2003.
"The biggest thing after my father's passing was that my family and I wanted to keep my father's legacy alive," says Bidwell, a chiropractor and owner of Bidwell Chiropractic. So she and her family set up the Dr. Leonard Bidwell Endowed Scholarship in Mathematics, which is awarded to an undergraduate sophomore, junior or senior mathematics student who participates in mathematics competitions or who otherwise shows exceptional promise and talent in the field. The first scholarship was given in 2007.
"Rutgers-Camden provides a wonderful education for future professionals," says Bidwell. "And it's reasonably priced for the area. It's close and a wonderful school with a lot of options to chose from."
Ed Kiessling picked Rutgers-Camden for the same reasons a lot of people choose the school: flexibility and affordability. But Kiessling, an executive managing director at Frank Crystal & Company, an insurance brokerage firm in New York City, sees that one of those factors is starting to wane.
"The value of a Rutgers education in my life was inestimable," says Kiessling. "Unfortunately, even state schools are becoming less affordable and if those of us that can don't give back, our society will not reap the rewards of the potential of all of the people who have talent, but can't afford a higher education."
Kiessling sees the Gateway Project as an ideal stepping stone to helping the Camden community, and toward creating funds to keep a Rutgers-Camden education as affordable for future students as it was for him.
"It's a manifestation of a new era for Rutgers-Camden celebrating the involvement of our alumni in the future of the university," says Kiessling. "We have never really had an endowment locally or people committed to building one. The Gateway Project not only symbolizes our success and commitment to the future of the university, but it is a commitment to the university's place in Camden and its embrace and outreach to the city. Both of these elements are critical to the success of the university and the city."
When Brian Baratz is looking for new employees for Baratz & Associates, his accounting firm, the first place he turns is Rutgers-Camden. In fact, three of his associates are Rutgers-Camden grads, and about a dozen of his employees have Rutgers degrees.
Baratz is a Rutgers-Camden grad himself, and now he's giving back to his alma matter in a few ways, including serving as co-chair on the dean's council. "Some of the financial success that I'm enjoying today was the result of the opportunities of going there," he says. "And I feel an obligation to pay back."
As part of the Dean's Leadership Council, Baratz also played an active role in bringing the Gateway to campus, and he feels that it will help not just Rutgers-Camden make its mark, but that it will also help the region do the same.
"The artwork is going to be unique and enhance the reputation of the Camden campus," says Baratz. "South Jersey is overlooked in general, and I think this will raise South Jersey's reputation as well."
Edward G. Spell
Like many alumni who have donated to Rutgers, Edward G. Spell, vice president of corporate liability and coverage counsel manager for Chubb & Son, a division of Federal Insurance Company, chooses to help Rutgers-Camden because of how important it is to the region, and the state.
“Rutgers-Camden has always been and remains the higher educational anchor of South Jersey. In my mind it remains, one of the best colleges within the Rutgers system,” says Spell. “It also provides an excellent and affordable education opportunity for South Jersey residents in particular and others who want to benefit by its reputation and relatively small size.”
That’s one of the many reasons he made a donation to the CCAS Dean's Scholarship Fund. Another is because the school was a launching pad to his success.
“I have benefited by the well rounded education I received at the college, have been relatively successful and wanted to make a contribution so that others needing financial assistance might now benefit,” he says.