June 18, 2019 | 65° F

Contributions from Rutgers alumni keep the University plump with funding in a variety of departments

Photo by Rutgers.edu |

Nevin Kessler is the executive vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. He says that alumni have a big say in the conversation of how their donations will be used. This allows the University to be flexible with student and faculty needs.

Rutgers collects millions of dollars from its alumni every year. Nevin Kessler, the president of Rutgers University Foundation and executive vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, discussed how the University utilizes these contributions. 

During 2017, alumni donated more than $200 million to the University. 

“Alumni can support any Rutgers school or program that is meaningful to them,” Kessler said. 

Contributions can be made toward something as specific as a scholarship or research in a particular field. Kessler explained that alumni have a lot of influence in how the University applies its money.  

“This support allows Rutgers to be nimble and responsive to student and faculty needs and opportunities,” he said.

Becky Gilbert, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, member of the Delta Gamma sorority and Dance Marathon, said she appreciates the alumni contributions.

She said that many of the alumni who donate are previous Dance Marathon captains, assistant directors and even worked for the Embrace Kids Foundation, the non-profit institution behind the marathon.

“Delta Gamma alumni always love to give back. Many still share the Delta Gamma team Facebook-fundraising page with their friends and families," she said.

Gilbert said the marathon hits home for many University graduates and spurs their passion for giving back. 

Alumni choose to donate to important programs and projects within the University for various reasons. Some do so out of thanks for the opportunities and success that Rutgers helped them achieve, Kessler said.  

David Kanevsky, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, is a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity and Dance Marathon participant. He said that Greek-Life alumni are an integral source of fundraising.

“I can personally attest to alumni help in my Rutgers Dance Marathon experience. They have been the largest contributors to our fundraising efforts," he said.

Other alumni donate to support other areas of the University, such as medicine, Kessler said. It depends on what is important to the individual and what Rutgers is trying to improve within the University or community.    

“Every gift makes a difference. In many, many cases … philanthropy is the difference between good work and extraordinary impact," he said. 

Elizabeth Kilpatrick

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