As president of Schumacher Chevrolet Auto Group, New Jersey’s largest volume Chevy dealer with locations in Boonton, Little Falls, Clifton, Denville and Livingston, Judith Schumacher-Tilton has a full plate. Her commitment to volunteerism is so generous that she was selected as the 2009 John I. Crecco Foundation Woman of the Year. Her leadership is so highly regarded that in November 2020 she assumed the chairwomanship of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJ CAR) – becoming the first chairwoman in NJ CAR’s 102-year history.
Still, this extraordinary business and community leader carves out significant time to make Montclair State University a priority in her life.
Actually, had it not been for her auto dealership business and reputation for community service, Montclair State might have never caught her attention the way it did. “One of my customers introduced me to the University,” Schumacher-Tilton recalls. “He told me that they needed a scoreboard for the football field and asked if I could help.”
Little did she know at the time that her involvement would evolve into several leadership roles at the University. Soon, Schumacher-Tilton was serving on the Foundation Board and the Annual Scholarship Dinner Committee. She also served on the leadership committee of Soar: The Campaign for Montclair State University, which recently announced its successful conclusion. The campaign raised nearly $82 million, far exceeding its $75 million goal.
Schumacher-Tilton has no intention of taking a break in her commitment to Montclair State. In her current role as co-chair of the Foundation’s Development Committee, she is even more focused on meeting the need for scholarships. “Gerry Appelstein, my co-chair, and I are working hard to bring in the resources our students need, especially in these difficult times,” she says. “We are leveraging the power of two!”
As an alumna of the University of Vermont, Schumacher-Tilton has long felt that state higher education institutions are critical providers of opportunity. “A financially accessible four-year college education is crucial,” she says. “The high-quality education provided at Montclair State sets students on a solid career path. It is an amazing school right in our backyard.”
“Montclair State is providing the economic backbone for New Jersey,” she says. “There is so much value in keeping New Jersey’s students in state for college and creating viable career paths for them here. They stay, they raise their families here, they support the structure of the state.”
We are contributing to the economic health and wellbeing of the country as well,” she adds. “Without an educated workforce we can’t, as a nation, make progress.”
Schumacher-Tilton has watched with admiration as President Cole created and implemented a grand vision for Montclair State, building the University from a college for teachers into a major, multifaceted research institution. She is also impressed by the faculty and staff who keep Montclair State humming through thick and thin. “I love how they care,” she says. “For them, Montclair State isn’t just a place to go to work every day. They really care about the school and the students.”
Schumacher-Tilton’s true passion for Montclair State rests with its students, however. “Most of our students are the first in their families to go to college, and even though the University strives to be affordable, most will need financial aid to earn their degree,” she notes. “It is exciting to know that we are providing them with a superb education.”
Although she recognizes the challenges of raising funds during these pandemic times, Schumacher-Tilton is confident that donors will see the value of investing in Montclair State and its students. “Inside of everyone is a hero,” she says. “By giving to a school like Montclair State you are giving someone the opportunity to better their life. What better feeling is there?