Donor Spotlight: The Haight Family Scholarship

September 19, 2022

Maureen Haight (nee Murphy) always knew she wanted to be a teacher. As she hailed from Union, she knew exactly where she would need to study to achieve her aspirations: Newark State Teachers College. The challenge was how to afford a college degree. So, after graduating from high school, Maureen worked full-time to save the funds needed to pursue her goal – and she succeeded! She gained admission, became emersed in her studies and college life, developed friendships which remained close throughout the years and, in 1957, proudly graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education.

The “gap” between high school and college resulted in Maureen being part of the last graduating class before the college’s relocation from Newark to Union, as well as the subsequent name changes to what is now Kean University. While Maureen left behind the building whose entrance proclaimed, “Who Dares to Teach Must Never Cease to Learn,” she continued to live by it. In the process, she imparted a love of learning to her students, her children and all those with whom she interacted in her communities.

“Donor Spotlight – Building” and “Donor Spotlight – Maureen Murphy HaightRecently, Maureen and her family decided to create an endowed scholarship with the Kean University Foundation in support of those who dream of becoming schoolteachers on their journeys toward becoming educators and life-long learners. The Haight Family Endowed Scholarship will benefit Kean students who are earning degrees which will enable them to pursue careers in education. Among the preferences for awarding the scholarship, the Haight family chose those that mirrored their own experiences, such as benefitting students who exhibit financial need, those who are of "non-traditional" college age and students who have actively engaged in community service. By personalizing the preferences this way, the recipients’ will receive both financial assistance and the assurance of knowing the benefactors understand their journeys and believe in their ability to achieve. Maureen has expressed that “how this all works out” feels like a full circle experience for her. She is very happy to be able to create the scholarship, which, through the annual scholarship awards generated from the endowment, will continue to assist future generations of aspiring teachers. 

After graduation, Maureen taught in New Jersey’s Kenilworth school district, for the Department of Army in Germany and later at Calvin Coolidge School in Hillside. Through a relative, she was introduced to David Haight, Jr., an alumnus of Dartmouth College; the couple married in 1967. Maureen then left the classroom and focused on raising her two children: David III, an alumnus of Muhlenberg College, and Deborah, who has achieved degrees at Columbia and Johns Hopkins Universities. David shared that their interest in creating scholarships was sparked by the children, who had done so at their alma maters. It seemed fitting that an endowed family scholarship also be created for Kean.

David feels that creating each of the family’s scholarships has been gratifying. Unique to establishing the Haight Family Endowed Scholarship with the Kean University Foundation is his appreciation that Kean serves many first-generation college students, along with its status as one of the top teacher-producing institutions in the country. Imagine the ripple effect! The scholarship recipients will be role models to their future students, keeping the cycle of continuous learning in motion.

As mentioned earlier, Maureen formed life-long friendships during her college years. She also was an active alumna and helped plan reunions for her classmates. As part of their 50th reunion celebration, Maureen and her fellow alumni toured the former Newark State Teacher’s College building in Newark, which is presently serving as Newark’s Technology High School. Upon entering one of her former classrooms, Maureen spotted a Dartmouth banner in the room. It was another of those full circle moments – her husband’s alma mater being showcased in her former college classroom. Through their estate planning and grants from their donor advised fund, they hope to continue to support educational institutions through philanthropy. The Kean University Foundation is grateful for their thoughtful planning and generosity.

For information on how to create an endowed scholarship or legacy gift, contact Eileen M. Cotter, Philanthropy Officer, via phone at (908) 316-8924 or email at ecotter@keanuniversityfoundation.org. All inquires are confidential and without obligation.