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University News

Annual Scholarship Dinner a Success

Gala event raised funds for scholarships and honored philanthropic leaders

Posted in: University

Photo of 2018 Annual Scholarship Dinner honorees with Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole and board members.
Left to right, James W. Merli ’84, Michael Capone, James Blake, Catherine McMullen ’85, Ilia Scriven, Jacquie McMullen, Susan Cole, Peter McMullen, Alexandra Bergstein, Kevin Cummings and Rose Cali ’80.

Hundreds of Montclair State University alumni, friends, benefactors and community members gathered to raise funds for student scholarships and to honor prominent philanthropic leaders Investors Bank and the McMullen Family Foundation, and retired financial services executive, alumnus James W. Merli ’83, at the Montclair State University Foundation 2018 Annual Scholarship Dinner on March 3, 2018.

The sold-out gala event raised more than $750,000 for scholarships that provide financial assistance to hundreds of students of limited economic means. The scholarships will help today’s students – and tomorrow’s leaders – pursue and complete their studies at Montclair State.

“This event is extremely important to the University’s ability to provide necessary support to our students,” said Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole in her remarks welcoming the guests. “I am very grateful to all of you for contributing so generously to our efforts.”

After her remarks, Cole introduced a special guest, the First Lady of the State of New Jersey, Tammy Snyder Murphy, who also addressed the audience.

The presentation of awards followed. Investors Bank, represented by President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Cummings, received the Rose and John J. Cali Award for Business Leadership and Community Engagement; James W. Merli received the Margaret and Herman Sokol Award for Alumni Achievement and Civic Leadership; and the McMullen Family Foundation received the Mary Mochary and Michael Kasser Award for Philanthropic Leadership, which was accepted by Peter McMullen.

The awards highlighted an evening program that featured performances of selections from the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes by students in Montclair State’s nationally recognized Department of Theatre and Dance and John J. Cali School of Music. The performances were followed by dinner in the University Hall Conference Center with veteran WCBS 880 helicopter traffic reporter Tom Kaminski ’84 serving as master of ceremonies.

Distinguished Honorees

Since its founding in 1926, Investors Bank has grown to one of the largest banks headquartered in New Jersey. With more than $25 billion in assets and a network of more than 150 retail branches throughout New Jersey, New York City and Long Island, Investors Bank delivers a broad range of financial services and products tailored to the needs of retail, business and not-for-profit customers.

Led by a senior management team committed to serving others, Investors Bank continues to grow while remaining focused on its roots as a local community bank. Kevin Cummings has been at the helm as President and Chief Executive Officer of Investors Bancorp and Investors Bank and on its Board of Directors since 2008.

“We believe that Investors Bank has an obligation to make a positive difference in the communities where our employees and customers live and work,” said Cummings. “We want to make a significant contribution to changing the world for the better, and supporting education affords one of the most important means of having that impact, which is just one of the reasons we have supported Montclair State University for more than 10 years.”

A 1983 graduate of Montclair State, James W. Merli launched his career on Wall Street at Shearson, prior to the Shearson/Lehman Brothers merger. During his 25 years with Lehman Brothers, he rose to the role of global head of the fixed income syndicate. In 2008, he moved to Barclays Capital, where he was head of U.S. primary market syndication. In 2010, he joined Nomura Securities International as global head of debt syndication and head of global finance for the Americas.

Since retiring from Nomura in 2015, Merli has served Montclair State and the Feliciano School of Business in several capacities. He is an adjunct professor at the School, a member of its Business Advisory Board, an executive in residence and a donor. He and his wife, Sandy, recently made a gift to the School to name the James W. Merli Executive Conference Center.

“Montclair State provided me with the tools necessary to compete in the highly competitive field of global finance,” said Merli. “I feel that it is even more important today than ever that students have an opportunity to obtain a high-quality, affordable education and I feel very fortunate to be in a position to help them achieve that.”

With strong roots in Montclair, the McMullen Family Foundation has focused its impact to benefit the Montclair community.

Honoring the legacy of John McMullen – who got his start at Montclair High School before earning degrees from the United States Naval Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – the Foundation is a strong supporter of education, the arts and human services. Demonstrating a deep belief in the transformative power of education, the family has empowered education efforts across primary, secondary and higher education levels.

The McMullen Family Foundation’s strong support of the University has provided operating funds for the George Segal Gallery, scholarships for students at the John J. Cali School of Music, and, most recently, scholarships to help registered nurses at Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center pursue their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees at the University’s new School of Nursing.

“Our family is honored to be recognized with the Mary Mochary and Michael Kasser Award for Philanthropic Leadership,” said Peter McMullen. “The McMullen Family Foundation is committed to supporting educational initiatives and pleased we can help advance the great work of Montclair State University in preparing students for successful futures.”

The 2018 Annual Scholarship Dinner was co-chaired by Dennis M. Bone, Rose L. Cali ’80, Michael L. Capone, Douglas L. Kennedy, Judith Schumacher-Tilton and Stephen R. Tilton Sr.