The Sokol Legacy

Transforming Lives: The Creation of the Margaret and Herman Sokol
Institute of Pharmaceutical Life Sciences

When Margaret McCormack ’38 and Herman Sokol ’37 met as students at Montclair State Teachers College in the 1930s, they could not have imagined what a tremendous effect they would both have on the school over their lifetimes. Today their alma mater is fundamentally stronger because of their lifelong philanthropy and support.

They married shortly after graduation. Dr. Herman Sokol was a research chemist and industrialist who served as president of the Bristol-Myers Company from 1976 to 1981. He was a renowned drug pioneer in the production of antibiotics, developing the basic process now used worldwide for making tetracycline. Mrs. Sokol taught mathematics and science in public schools. 

For many years, the Sokols’ generosity has been seen and felt throughout campus, from the Sokol Seminar Room in Science Hall to scholarships, fellowships, and research awards; to the Margaret and Herman Sokol Science Lecture Series, and the University’s first named chair. An $8.5 million bequest from the Sokol estate in 2007– the largest gift in Montclair State’s history – is being used to create endowed fellowships, professorships, a faculty awards program for the College of Science and Mathematics (CSAM), and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Institute of Pharmaceutical Life Sciences.

This seminal legacy gift will enable Montclair State to host future lectures, grant professorships, and provide student research opportunities.  Most importantly, this planned gift makes a permanent impact on the education of future generations of scientists. 

The Margaret and Herman Sokol Institute will be the first of its kind at Montclair State and will become a Center of Excellence in New Jersey.  It will create a unique environment to bring together faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, research associates, technicians, scientists from the pharmaceutical industry, and potentially postdoctoral fellows with shared interests in pharmaceutical and medicinal life sciences. 

Margaret and Herman Sokol represent the best of Montclair State’s past and the promise of our future. Their exceedingly generous legacy gift will ensure that Montclair State remains in the forefront of higher education in New Jersey and a key contributor to the ongoing success of the state’s pharmaceutical industry.