Nearly 350 Montclair State University alumni, friends, benefactors and community members gathered in the Alexander Kasser Theater to raise funds for student scholarships and to honor the exemplary service, philanthropy and leadership of Lawrence R. Inserra, Jr. and Inserra Supermarkets at the Montclair State University Foundation 2019 Annual Scholarship Dinner on March 9.
The gala event raised more than $550,000 for scholarships that will 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.
President Susan A. Cole offered words of welcome and spoke of the importance of giving students the best possible chance to realize their potential. “We cannot do it without you, our friends and supporters, and our alumni,” she said. “I rise every day grateful for the people such as you who share our understanding of the importance of our mission, and, most important, who understand that, among our 21,000 smart, hard-working and hopeful students, there are many thousands who quite literally would not be able to be here without your support.”
The award presentation followed with Inserra Supermarkets and Lawrence R. Inserra, Jr., its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, receiving the Rose and John J. Cali Award for Business Leadership and Community Engagement, presented by Rose Cali’s son, Michael Nevins. This award is presented to a member of the business community – either an individual or a company – who is committed to creating strategic partnerships that enhance research and discovery and ultimately benefit the larger community.
“Tonight, we have the honor of recognizing a distinguished business and community member who has been tremendously generous with his time and resources to benefit our students and support their success,” said Cole in introducing the honoree. “What I love best about Larry is that when he comes onto campus, he doesn’t see the buildings or the programs, he sees the students. He understands what we are trying to do here and he has been so enormously helpful to us in so many ways.”
The presentation highlighted an evening program that featured selections from the ever-popular Broadway hit musical Guys and Dolls performed by students in Montclair State’s nationally recognized Department of Theatre and Dance and John J. Cali School of Music. The performance was followed by dinner in the University Hall Conference Center with Montclair State University Foundation Board Chair Michael Capone and Montclair State senior and Student Government Association President Serafina Genise serving as hosts for the evening.
Jonathan Morgan, a senior finance major and a scholarship recipient spoke at the dinner thanking donors and telling the story of his personal journey. “I solely support myself and am paying my way through school,” he said. “I would not have been able to attend college or finish my degree without scholarship support. And I am proud to say that I will be graduating on time and walking with my classmates at Commencement this May.”
Lawrence R. Inserra, Jr., is Chairman and CEO of Inserra Supermarkets, one of the largest supermarket chains in the metropolitan area, which operates ShopRite stores throughout New Jersey and New York. Since its founding in 1954 by Larry’s grandfather, Patsy Inserra, Inserra Supermarkets has continued to be a vital and integral part of the fabric of each of the communities where Inserra family stores are located.
Under the entrepreneurial guidance of the late Lawrence Inserra, Larry’s father, Inserra Supermarkets grew to eight stores by 1980, 14 stores by 1981 and today operates 23 stores, while upholding the tradition of being “Proud to be a family business serving families.”
The Inserra family has made a lasting impact to benefit students at Montclair State University through its generous support of initiatives including student scholarships, the Emergency Book Fund, Athletics, the Coccia Institute, the Red Hawk Pantry, and the Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies.
In addition to his family business accomplishments and contributions to the University, Inserra provides leadership to a number of community and other business organizations. He serves on the Montclair State University Board of Trustees, is the chairman of Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation and is a member of the board of directors of Wakefern Food Corp., the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey and Lakeland Bank. He also is a member of the board of trustees for Hackensack Meridian Health and Community Resource Council.
The members of the 2019 Annual Scholarship Dinner Committee are Rose L. Cali ’80, Michael L. Capone, Francis M.C. Cuss, Angelo J. Genova ’75, George J. Hiltzik, Robert Iacullo ’76, Lindsey Inserra-Hughes, Douglas L. Kennedy, Ralph A. LaRossa, Marion Clarke O’Neill ’79, Steven Resnick ’93, Judith Schumacher-Tilton, Kent Sluyter, Stephen R. Tilton, Sr. and Penelope Vance.