On her first visit to campus as a potential student, Holly Gera was struck by the friendly, welcoming environment that greeted her. It was what convinced her to choose Montclair State University for her undergraduate education, and what has kept her here for an impressive 30 years as a staff member.
Holly was the first in her family to go to college and needed to go to a state school for affordability. Growing up in rural New Jersey, she was attracted to how different it felt to be in a town with sidewalks and to be close to the city. Knowing her career interest early on, she majored in recreation professions in the College of Education and Human Services. She went on to get her master’s degree in Recreation Administration at Penn State and started out her career in community recreation, working in the towns of South Orange and Branchburg.
She made the move to campus recreation jobs, returning to Montclair State in January 1989 and served as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics for 22 years. Through her education she learned organizational and administrative skills needed for her career, including supervision, budget management and logistics, and she learned on the job to apply them to athletics.
“I grew up with Montclair State,” says Holly, “from its start as a smaller college to becoming a large regional university.”
During her tenure, she was part of many exciting athletic accomplishments, including 50 conference championships and every sport appearing in an NCAA Championship, with five of them — men’s soccer, field hockey, women’s basketball, baseball and softball — reaching their respective national finals, and baseball taking home an NCAA National Championship. The program’s growth has been visible in the construction of the MSU Soccer Park and the MSU Softball Stadium, as well as renovation of the Panzer Athletic Center and the Peter. M. Altieri Athletic Hall of Fame Room. She is most proud of the student athletes’ achievements and honored to have recognized 209 All Americans and 21 Academic All Americans over the years.
“I love the Division III philosophy that student athletes are students first,” says Holly, “…and they have the opportunity through the intercollegiate program to travel and compete in their sport.”
As an alumna and employee, Holly’s affinity to the University runs deep; she has been a loyal donor since 1992, supporting the Red Hawk Athletics Fund, as well as giving over the years to the Emergency Book Fund and The Fund for Montclair State. “Working for the University, I know how hard the staff and others are working. Students and families are contributing to support the success of the athletics program and I want to help. The money I give goes to our student athletes, who work so hard and represent us so well,” she says.
“There are lots of organizations that one can donate to, but for me, it is important to give back to Montclair State because it changed my life,” says Holly. “I wouldn’t be the same person if I hadn’t gone to college here. Montclair State broadened my perspective and opened up the world from my rural beginnings. It gave me great background to build my life and career.”
Holly will be retiring on December 31, marking 30 years of service to the University. “I’m not sure what the next stage holds for me, but I know I will remain engaged with the University. I look forward to attending many events, games and alumni activities.”