Kean University Foundation News


Kean University Dedicates Miron Student Center in Honor of Benefactors Diane G. Miron ’61 and Bob Miron

UNION, N.J., October 9, 2015—Kean University officially renamed its University Center as the Miron Student Center in a joyful ceremony on Wednesday, October 7, attended by faculty, administrators, students, and family and friends of benefactor Diane Goldblatt Miron, a graduate of the Class of 1961, and her husband Bob Miron.

The Mirons have made a major gift to Kean University, and the University Center was renamed as the Miron Student Center in recognition of their generosity and commitment to the university.

During her remarks, Diane Miron spoke of her family’s economically challenged circumstances and of her gratitude to Kean University—which was called Newark State College when she attended.

“If not for Newark State College, life would have been very different for me,” she said. “It gave me the chance to forge ahead and to become a teacher, which was all I ever wanted to be. My strong love of teaching and of children has continued to this day. It’s my great pleasure and a great honor to be able to give something back to Kean University after all that Kean has done for me.”

The ceremony included the presentation of an official commendation from Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage—himself a two-time graduate of Kean University—to Mrs. Miron, an Elizabeth native. It also included a ribbon cutting in front of the Student Center, with Mrs. Miron wielding the scissors.

“The naming gift for the Miron Student Center stands in a class by itself, because it is just that—a gift,” said Ada Morell, chair of the Kean University Board of Trustees. “It’s an expression of affection, of trust, and of belief in the mission of this university. It’s also an expression of thanks and appreciation, and of a desire to play an active role in making Kean University a better institution—one that can better serve all its core stakeholders, but especially the students that are the lifeblood and the focus of everything we do to keep the evolution of the university moving forward.”

After the dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting, the Mirons were presented with a framed replica of the commemorative plaque mounted on the wall of the Miron Student Center atrium. Mrs. Miron also spent some private time with a group of Kean student leaders, asking and answering questions about their experiences at Kean and her own life.

“In many ways, Diane is a living example of the similarities between many of our alumni and our current students, in terms of where she comes from, what she studied, and what she hoped to accomplish in life,” said Carla S. Willis, president of the Kean University Foundation and vice president, institutional advancement, Kean University. “Because Diane recognized this, and decided to give back to Kean for the benefit of our current students, our entire campus community thanks and salutes her on this happy day.”

Mrs. Miron graduated with a degree in elementary education. After her marriage to Bob Miron, she taught in schools first in Elizabeth, and then in the various communities they lived in around the country as he pursued his career in broadcasting and cable television. She is retired from the Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) Central School District.

Following her retirement, she began advising teachers on how to use the technology of cable television in the classroom. She served as the Cable in the Classroom Coordinator for NewChannels Corp. and Time Warner Cable in more than 100 schools in upstate New York.

Diane and Bob Miron are long-time residents of Syracuse, New York. Married for more than 50 years, they have three children and nine grandchildren.

To view video coverage of the Miron Student Center dedication, click here.


Liberty Hall Museum and the Kean University Foundation Host the ‘Toys Through Time Soirée’

On Thursday, October 1, grown-ups relived their childhoods for a few hours at the Toys Through Time Soirée, hosted by the Kean University Foundation and Liberty Hall Museum to mark the opening of Liberty Hall’s exhibit "Toys Through Time: The History of American Fun." Proceeds from the event are earmarked for the expansion and enhancement of Liberty Hall’s youth-oriented educational programming.

The Soirée also commemorated the museum’s 15th anniversary as the “Home of New Jersey History.”

Guests got to preview a sampling of the more than 150 vintage toys from the "Toys Through Time" exhibit, which opened at Liberty Hall on October 5. Liberty Hall staff showed them how to use specially programmed iPads to view enhanced interpretive videos of the vintage toy displays. They also had the opportunity to meet toy industry luminaries such as Richard Gottlieb, principal of the Global Toy Experts consulting firm and editor-in-chief of the industry newsletter Global Toy News.

“We were excited to host this first-ever ‘Toys Through Time Soirée’ in conjunction with Liberty Hall’s 15th anniversary,” said Carla S. Willis, president of the Kean University Foundation and vice president of institutional advancement. “The event has helped the museum to better serve the children in our community. We want to reinforce Liberty Hall’s status as a priceless resource for immersing young visitors in historical experiences they can really touch and see firsthand.”



UNION, N.J., September 21, 2015 – The Kean University Foundation held its annual “Cougar Cup” golf outing fundraiser today at Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Bedminster Township, N.J. Proceeds from this year’s event will be directed to benefit students in the Michael Graves College, comprising Kean’s School of Public Architecture and Robert Busch School of Design. The featured speaker during the evening program was Professor Rose Gonnella, executive director of the Robert Busch School of Design. This year, the Cougar Cup was won by the foursome representing Neglia Engineering Associates: Joe Miranda, Michael Neglia, Armando Sanchez, and Tom SolFaro. The four players shot a winning score of 58.




Elizabethtown Gas Continues Longstanding Support for Kean University

On July 16, 2015, the Kean University Foundation received a $5,000 check from Elizabethtown Gas and the AGL Foundation for the benefit of the University's general program. The check was presented by Tina Earley, manager for government and community relations, Elizabethtown Gas. Pictured, left to right: Carla S. Willis, vice president of institutional advancement, Kean University, and president, Kean University Foundation; Earley; and Tonya Hall, senior development officer, Kean University Foundation.


Kean University Honors Wakefern Foods’ President and COO Joseph Sheridan, Raises More Than $510,000 at 18th Annual Gala

Sheridan, Class of 1980, Receives William Livingston Award; New Jersey Teacher of the Year Mark Mautone ’02 Also Recognized

HILLSIDE, N.J., June 18, 2015—Nearly 500 guests attended Kean University’s 18th Annual Gala on Thursday, June 11, held here on the university’s stately East Campus, home to the Nathan Weiss Graduate College. The Gala, hosted by the Kean University Foundation, featured the theme of “The Graduating Student: Past, Present, and Future,” which paid homage to Kean’s alumni and current students while encouraging attendees to be mindful of the need for philanthropic support on behalf of future Kean students. The Gala this year raised more than $510,000 in gifts and pledges, which will be utilized for scholarships and for other priorities that will enable a Kean education to remain both excellent and accessible.

This year’s Gala honoree was Joseph Sheridan, president and chief operating officer of Wakefern Food Corp., the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States and the largest employer in New Jersey. Wakefern’s members operate more than 250 supermarkets under the ShopRite and Fresh Grocer banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Sheridan, a graduate of then-Kean College of New Jersey’s Class of 1980, received Kean’s William Livingston Award, bestowed in recognition of his excellent achievement in business as well as his ongoing service to the university.

Sheridan was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in a working-class family that included five children. He joined Wakefern in 1976 as a warehouse selector in Elizabeth, where he worked days moving product in the warehouse and spent his nights attending class at Kean.

“It was my degree from Kean, which I earned at night while working full time at Wakefern, that allowed me to enter the company’s management training program. It gave me the credentials I needed to play in the corporate world, to climb the ranks, to realize the dream,” Sheridan said during his award acceptance. “Kean provides the education and inspiration needed to go farther and reach higher than you thought you could.”

Over the course of the next 36 years, Sheridan worked his way up through numerous logistics, finance, procurement, and management positions in the Grocery, Direct Store Delivery, Bakery, Health and Beauty Care, Non-Foods, and Pharmacy divisions. He was named senior vice president of marketing in 1994, executive vice president in 1996, and president and chief operating officer of Wakefern in 2011.

A member of the Board of Advisors of Kean’s College of Business and Public Management, Sheridan has opened career opportunities for many Kean alumni at Wakefern. He was named in 2011 as a Distinguished Alumnus of the university. He has received awards for his charitable endeavors from the Embrace Kids Foundation, the Hillsborough Educational Foundation, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

During his award presentation, Sheridan received a tribute in the form of a brief three-act performance by students from Kean’s Department of Theatre. In keeping with the “past, present, and future” theme, the students staged vignettes representing the Newark Normal School (the institution that evolved into Kean University) in its founding year of 1855; the Kean University of today; and the imagined “Sheridan Intergalactic Academy” of the year 2175. Sheridan was also delighted by a surprise performance of the iconic ShopRite Can Can song and dance, famously used by ShopRite stores in their annual promotion.

Additional speakers during the Gala included two students who are directly benefiting from Kean’s scholarship program: Nigel Donald, a rising senior, newly elected student government president, and recipient of the Patricia M. Barksdale Scholarship; and Christa Spisso, a May 2015 graduate with a degree in Mathematical Sciences with K-12 teaching certificate, who has received the Dorothy and George Hennings Endowed Scholarship in Education as well as the Maxine and Jack Lane Endowed Education Scholarship.

A special award was given to Mark Mautone, a graduate of the Class of 2002, who last fall was named as the New Jersey Teacher of the Year by the state Department of Education. Mautone was the third consecutive New Jersey Teacher of the Year to have graduated from Kean University. A teacher of preschool students with autism at Wallace Elementary School in Hoboken, Mautone is a strong proponent of using technology to educate students with special needs. He created an app to assist his students academically and with life and social skills, and serves as president of his own start-up company focused on technology development for individuals with autism and other disabilities. He has become internationally recognized as an expert on the use of iPads with individuals with autism. He was honored in late April at the White House by President Obama with the other 49 state Teachers of the Year.





Kean University President Dawood Farahi, Ph.D., and Foundation Board Member Kevin B. Alton to Be Honored by the Boy Scouts of America

Farahi and Alton to Receive “Distinguished Citizen Award” for Contributions to STEM Education

UNION, N.J., March 16, 2015—The president of Kean University, Dawood Farahi, Ph.D., and a member of the Kean University Foundation Board of Directors, Kevin B. Alton, have been selected to receive the 2015 Distinguished Citizen Award from the Patriots’ Path Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The awards will be presented at the Second Annual Project STEM Dinner, to be held on Tuesday, March 24 on the Kean University campus.

The Distinguished Citizen Award is given to individuals who exemplify in daily life the ideals of the BSA as expressed in the Scout Oath and Law, and who have made significant contributions to the success of Project STEM in their communities.

The BSA launched Project STEM in 2011 as a way of helping youth develop skills that will be critically needed in order to succeed in the competitive world market. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—disciplines considered by many to be the foundation for academic and professional fields in an advanced society. A robust STEM workforce is often regarded as a strong indicator of a nation’s ability to sustain itself.

“Both President Farahi and Mr. Alton are more than worthy of this honor,” said Joseph A. Gonnella, chief development officer of the Patriots’ Path Council of the BSA. “Scouting inspires and trains future generations of leaders and teaches our youth to ‘Be Prepared.’ The involvement of our two award recipients in supporting STEM education in New Jersey has been invaluable in preparing not just Scouts, but all the young people of our state, for lives and careers in an increasingly global society.”

President Farahi has overseen a dramatic expansion of STEM-related academic programs at Kean University. One of his first initiatives after becoming president of Kean in 2003 was to launch the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology, and Mathematics (NJCSTM), aimed at addressing the nation’s shortage of bench scientists and teachers of mathematics and the sciences. In fall 2004, Kean accepted its first students into a five-year combined scientist/teacher and professional researcher program leading to a master’s degree. The program, now a hallmark of Kean University, makes its home on Kean’s Union campus in the STEM Building, which includes some of New Jersey’s finest research laboratories and facilities for teaching and learning in the sciences and mathematics. As of fall 2014, Kean’s STEM program had a 93% graduation rate, second to only one institution with a comparable program in New Jersey: Princeton University.

Kevin B. Alton graduated from Kean in 1973 with a B.A. in chemistry and physics. He has served on the Kean University Foundation Board since 2013. He is retired from a 40-year career in pharmaceutical research; his curriculum vitae includes more than 90 scientific journal articles, meeting abstracts, and book chapters. His name appears as the co-inventor on at least six patent applications held by Schering Corporation (now Merck). He is a recipient of the prestigious Discoverer’s Award from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), the pharmaceutical industry’s trade association. Alton and his wife Beth (Kean Class of 1970) are the benefactors of the Kevin and Beth Alton Annual Scholarship as well as an endowed scholarship with the same name; both scholarships are intended for students studying in the STEM disciplines. He has received both the Distinguished Alumni Award and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Kean University.


Kean University to Receive Major Naming Gift from Alumna Diane G. Miron ’61 and Bob Miron 

Donation to Be Used for University Center Upgrades and Matching Gift

UNION, N.J., March 10, 2015—Kean University announced today that alumna Diane Goldblatt Miron, a graduate of the Class of 1961, and her husband Bob Miron will make a major gift to the University in tribute to Mrs. Miron’s alma mater. A significant portion of the gift will be used to refurbish Kean’s University Center, which will be renamed the Miron Student Center. Additionally, a portion of the Mirons’ donation will be used as a matching gift to leverage and spark giving from new alumni donors to Kean University.

“Our University Center is at the heart of the Kean campus, used on a daily basis by the entire University community—students, faculty, and administrative staff,” said Dawood Farahi, Ph.D., president of Kean University. “Everyone comes here to eat, study, work, attend events, and socialize, in the process forming valuable connections in a way that happens at virtually no other location on campus. So we are absolutely delighted that Diane and Bob chose this unique campus facility as the beneficiary of their very generous gift, and we also celebrate their interest in having a portion of their gift serve as an incentive to attract potential new donors to Kean. 

“Their philanthropic investment will have a lasting impact and will improve the everyday campus experience for the entire community for many years to come,” Dr. Farahi added.

“Kean University is where it all started for me, and Bob and I are very happy to be able to give something back to this wonderful institution that benefits such a wide range of its people,” said Diane Miron. “In particular, we wanted to do something that would be helpful to the students. The majority of them are commuters, just like I was more than 50 years ago, and it’s very important to have high quality, comfortable facilities on campus to help them feel at home and reach their highest potential.”

Diane Miron is a native of Elizabeth, N.J., who graduated from Kean—then Newark State College—with a degree in elementary education. She was a fourth-grade teacher for many years and is retired from the Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) Central School District. Following her retirement, she began advising teachers on how to use the technology of cable television in the classroom. She served as the Cable in the Classroom Coordinator for NewChannels Corp. and Time Warner Cable in more than 100 schools in upstate New York. This innovative project allowed commercial-free programming to be provided by cable programmers for use as a tool in the classroom, geared for grades 4-12. She also served as an advisor to the Turner Networks in their Cable in the Classroom program development.

Bob Miron retired in 2010 after a 50-year career in broadcasting, with 44 of those years spent in the cable industry. 

Bob and Diane Miron are long-time residents of Syracuse, New York. Married for more than 50 years, they have three children and nine grandchildren. 

About Kean University

Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, boasting a richly diverse student, faculty, and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological, and cultural enrichment, serving more than 15,000 students. The Nathan Weiss Graduate College offers three doctoral degree programs and more than 60 options for graduate study leading to master’s degrees, professional diplomas, or certifications. The University’s five undergraduate colleges offer 50 undergraduate degrees over a full range of academic subjects. With campuses in Union and Toms River, N.J., and Wenzhou, China, Kean University provides a world-class education. Visit Kean online at


Nu Sigma Phi Fraternity Celebrates 75th Anniversary with Gala Event at Kean University

UNION, N.J., October 31, 2014—On Saturday evening, October 25, Kean University’s Nu Sigma Phi fraternity celebrated its 75th anniversary with a gala event that drew approximately 100 alumni and current student members to the atrium of the university’s STEM building.

“The purpose of this event was to celebrate our 75-year legacy on campus, and to reconnect our brothers with their alma mater,” said Michael Delicio ’82, the event’s primary organizer. “I would hope that attendees walked away knowing that brotherhood is timeless, and that there is much that they can contribute to both the current fraternity and Kean University.”

In 1939, a group of 15 students, frustrated by their inability to pledge existing college fraternities due to reasons that included religion, ethnicity, and/or choice of academic focus, decided that they would create a new fraternity founded on principles of democracy, integrity, mutual respect, and inclusion. They successfully petitioned the college administration, and Nu Sigma Phi was born as one of the first nonsectarian fraternities to be granted a charter in the state of New Jersey. Its first advisor was Professor of History and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences John C. Hutchinson Jr., who would serve in that capacity for the next 25 years and became the namesake of Kean’s Hutchinson Hall.

“We were founded by a small group of students who experienced discrimination firsthand,” said Delicio. “They overcame adversity to create an organization dedicated to diversity, inclusion, service to others, and most importantly the true spirit of brotherhood. Our story and philosophy are as relevant today as they were in 1939, which is why brothers like Henry Niemira keep coming back.”

Delicio was referring to Henry Niemira ’41 one of two of the original 15 founders who, remarkably, are still alive. Niemira was proudly present at the gala, holding court at his table near the front of the room, the multicolored braid around his shoulders signifying his position of high honor within the fraternity.

“As our motto is ‘Progress Through the Ages,’ it was important that our brothers, especially those who have been less than engaged over the years, understand and be proud of the fact that our organization and the university have accomplished much and continue to grow,” said Delicio. “Many of our older brothers were not aware of the fact that we stopped being an active organization about 20 years ago, or of the remarkable story of our subsequent renaissance.”

That renaissance includes the establishment of the Nu Sigma Phi Annual Scholarship at Kean, which provides financial assistance to academically talented Kean students and to brothers of Nu Sigma Phi.

The evening’s program concluded with special thanks to the staff of the Kean University Foundation and Office of Alumni Relations, particularly Vice President of Institutional Advancement Carla S. Willis, Director of Alumni Relations Stella Maher, and Senior Advancement Officer Alissa Di Scala.


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