Montclair State University Announces $8.25 Million Gift

Largest-Ever Donation to Further Strengthen Pharma-Related Sciences

John Patella or Minne Ho
Office of Communications and Marketing
973-655-4333 or (cell) 215-917-9367

MONTCLAIR, NJ – Montclair State University today announced the receipt of an $8.25 million gift -- the largest in its history -- to significantly expand the University's programs that prepare undergraduate and graduate students for careers in the state's pharmaceutical industry.

The University also announced the creation of a new institute dedicated to pharmaceutical and medicinal sciences -- The Margaret and Herman Sokol Institute for Pharmaceutical Life Sciences.

"Throughout its history, Montclair State University has prepared young people for careers in areas of importance to our state," said University President Susan A. Cole. "That proud tradition of service to New Jersey continues today as we further strengthen our unwavering commitment to preparing New Jersey's next generation of scientists and science teachers."

The $8.25 million gift is from the estate of Margaret and Herman Sokol, a New Jersey couple who met as undergraduate students in the 1930s at what was then Montclair State Teachers College. Herman (Class of '37) went on to become a renowned drug pioneer in the production of antibiotics, developing the basic process now used worldwide for making tetracycline. He was also president of the Bristol-Myers Company. Margaret (Class of '38) became a science and mathematics teacher in the public schools and a major patron of the arts, education and sciences.

The Sokols gave generously to their alma mater, all of it dedicated to the University's science programs. Prior gifts totaling approximately $3 million established, among other things, an endowed chair in chemistry, a graduate fellowship in chemistry, a science lecture series and freshmen chemistry scholarships.

The University, meanwhile, has been making its own investment in its science programs; building new labs, acquiring equipment, recruiting top talent to teach and mentor students, and expanding support for faculty/student research.

As a result, Montclair State University has emerged as an important resource for New Jersey's pharmaceutical industry, with growing numbers of MSU students majoring in chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology and going on to careers in drug development and research.

From 2003 to 2006, the number of students majoring in chemistry at Montclair State University increased 43 percent, while the number majoring in biochemistry increased 50 percent. During that period, the University also began significant research into such areas as bacteria-resistant antibiotics and diabetes.

New Jersey is home to more pharmaceutical companies than any other state in the country, or any other country in the world. The pharmaceutical and medical technology industry is a major factor in creating a thriving economy in the state, as well as making New Jersey a leader in research and development. According to the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, a trade association for the research-based pharmaceutical and medical technology industry in New Jersey, the pharmaceutical industry has a statewide economic impact of $27 billion.

"Montclair State University continues to demonstrate a commitment to providing the kind of skilled, highly educated workforce that helps make New Jersey the pre-eminent location for the global pharmaceutical and medical technology industry," said Bob Franks, president of the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey. "The investment they are making in the sciences is an investment in the health of our citizens and the health of the state's economy."

The Sokols last and largest gift comes posthumously. Margaret Sokol died on June 4, 2006. (Herman Sokol passed away in 1985.) The Sokols' will directs Montclair State to use the funds to create three new initiatives:

  • The Margaret and Herman Sokol Faculty Award Fund, a grant program to support promising scientific research by Montclair State faculty;
  • The Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, the second endowed chair in the University's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (The first endowed chair in chemistry was created by a 1999 gift by Mrs. Sokol.); and
  • The Margaret and Herman Sokol Fellowship Fund. This permanent fund will provide scholarships for up to two Montclair State chemistry doctoral candidates to pursue their PhDs.

"The Sokols viewed their gifts as sound investments in the future of higher education," said Dr. Robert S. Prezant, dean of the University's College of Science and Mathematics. "They recognized the quality of the University's science programs, faculty and students and wanted their donations to spur the University to even greater excellence."

About Montclair State University
Montclair State is New Jersey's second largest and fastest growing university. It offers the advantages of a large university--a comprehensive undergraduate curriculum with a global focus, a broad variety of superior graduate programs through the doctoral level, and a diverse faculty and student body--combined with a small college's attention to students. For more information on Montclair State University, go to

February 15 , 2007