William Paterson University Distributes Its Highest Level of Donor Scholarship Support in One Year, Funding 750 Scholarships

William Paterson University distributed more than $1.6 million in donor scholarships for the 2023-24 academic year, a 50 percent increase over the amount provided five years ago, and the most ever for the University in one year. As a result, the University awarded 750 donor-funded scholarships, a 25 percent increase since the 2018-19 academic year.

“Scholarship support makes a profound difference in the lives of students for whom a college education is truly a game changer,” says William Paterson University President Richard J. Helldobler. “This financial support plays a critical role in allowing more students to enroll and stay enrolled through graduation to achieve their dream of earning a college degree.”

Increased donor support has grown the University’s scholarship endowment. The endowment currently stands at $19.96 million, a 129 percent increase since the 2018-19 academic year.

A focus on increasing scholarship support is at the core of the University’s fundraising efforts. Proceeds from the institution’s annual Legacy Awards Gala, the William Paterson University Foundation’s largest event, directly fund academic scholarships. This year’s event, scheduled for April 17 at The Grove in Cedar Grove, will honor Bernie Williams, the New York Yankees great and Latin Grammy-nominated guitarist and composer; alumna Valerie Gross Paverd ’03, a prominent tech and outsourcing attorney, and Gallo, a global leader in wine and spirits.

“Many of our students are the first in their families to go to college,” says Pamela Ferguson, vice president of institutional advancement and president of the William Paterson University Foundation. “A scholarship can be critical in getting them to the finish line. The growth in our scholarship endowment has helped us provide a much firmer based for ongoing scholarship support, and to help us achieve our goal of helping William Paterson students achieve their dream of a college education.” 

For example, a transformative gift from Dr. Dorothy Grant Hennings in 2022 established the Dorothy and George Hennings Endowed Science Scholarship, to support undergraduate students engaged in research in a science discipline in William Paterson’s College of Science and Health who also demonstrate financial need.

Much of the growth in scholarship support was fueled by the University’s recent and highly successful Campaign for Scholarships. The campaign exceeded its goal, raising more than $16 million and exceeding the original goal of $10 million by 60 percent.

The campaign, which launched in 2015 with a lead $1 million grant from The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, closed in 2020 with transformative gifts from the estate of alumna and Professor Emerita Barbara Grant ’54, as well as from Dr. Dorothy Grant Hennings. The campaign generated support from 4,550 donors—alumni, friends, foundations, staff, faculty, and former faculty—who contributed to 100 endowed scholarships and 310 annual scholarships.

More recently, the University received a gift of nearly $1 million from the estate of Carol Mathews LeBeau ’45, which has established a scholarship fund to support students who are studying to be special education teachers. LeBeau had loyally donated between $5 and $7 to the institution annually starting immediately after she graduated and continuing until she died.

“Her consistently remembering the institution, every single year, is a priceless testament of her pride and philanthropy,” Ferguson says. “While she was not able to make a transformative gift in her lifetime, Carol remembered us with great generosity in her estate plans, and for that, we are very grateful. The scholarship we have been able to establish in her name will support generations of students.”