Newsletter Feb 2021

Greetings from the Kean University Foundation!


We are excited to share with you the Summer 2021 Edition of our eNewsletter. In keeping with previous publications, this eNewsletter is sent out quarterly to friends and members of the Kean Community, alike, including content related to the many ways we can all support Kean University, as well as options available for making a gift to the Foundation. We look forward to keeping you updated on the Foundation’s activities, as well as the tremendous impact from its valued supporters!


DONOR SPOTLIGHT: Arthur F. ’68 ’73 and Beverly ’68 Kirk

“We believe in the importance of giving back so other Kean students can have the same opportunities we did.”
- Artie ‘68 ‘73 and Beverly ‘73 Kirk

As a teenager growing up in Linden, New Jersey, Arthur “Artie" ‘68 ‘73 and Beverly ‘73 Kirk had little idea how some sisterly advice would change the course of his life. Beverly Centrella, of Hoboken, New Jersey, was equally unaware of how being waitlisted by (then) Jersey City State College would change the course of her life, as well.

Artie was accepted into Lehigh University, located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Despite receiving a partial scholarship, however, attending Lehigh remained unattainable given his family’s financial circumstances. In 1964, instead of pursuing college, Artie made the decision to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. – just as the war in Vietnam was gaining momentum. A mere two weeks before Artie was scheduled to be inducted, fate intervened in the form of his sister, and he made the decision to forego the military and enroll in Newark State College.

Beverly’s path to Newark State proved less complicated than Artie’s. Upon notice of being waitlisted by Jersey City State, Beverly opted to attend Newark State following fortuitous words of encouragement from her mother, who stated, “That is where you will meet the man of your dreams!”

Though Artie initially intended to focus on English studies while at Newark State, he ultimately graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, thus setting him on a path to eventually teach the subject of history. Beverly, much like many other women pursuing higher education during this time period, elected to major in elementary education. She also completed her undergraduate degree in 1968.

Artie was active within the student community while attending Newark State, both as a member of the Sigma Beta Tau fraternity, as well as Editor of the student newspaper. Beverly, a member of the Beta Delta Chi sorority, had taken on a typist position in the College’s Public Relations Department via a work-study program – which is where she and Artie crossed paths. Artie had visited the Public Relations office in need of a typist to assist him with a newspaper article, and Beverly was happy to oblige!

The pair crossed paths, once again, during their junior years while their fraternity and sorority were visiting Florida for spring break. Artie recalls Beverly made quite the impression; alas, at that moment in time, Artie was unavailable to pursue a relationship. In fact, it was not until shortly after they had both graduated in 1968 that, during a trip to the beach in Long Branch, New Jersey, Artie finally had the realization that Beverly was the only girl for him. They were married a year later on August 3, 1969 and have been together ever since.

Following their respective graduations, Beverly began teaching kindergarten in Newark, while Artie took on a history teacher role at a middle school located in Linden. Artie went on to earn not only a Master of Arts degree in education administration and supervision from Kean College, but also a Doctor of Education degree from Rutgers University in 1984.

While pursuing his advanced degrees, Artie served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Misericordia University, a liberal arts college located in Dallas, Pennsylvania. During his five-year tenure, he was instrumental in the school’s transformational turnaround, reversing years of decline and putting the institution on a path to sustainable prosperity. From Misericordia, Artie assumed the role of President at Keuka College, located in Keuka Park, New York, before moving on to Saint Leo University, located in Saint Leo, Florida.

Artie retired from the presidency of Saint Leo University in the summer of 2015. During his more than 18 years at the helm, Saint Leo University grew from a small campus of 730 students with a total student population of 7,100, most of whom resided on 15 military bases, to a thriving campus of over 2,300 students with a total student population exceeding 16,500. Artie is responsible for building one of the largest and most respected online education programs among private, nonprofit colleges in the United States. As part of that growth, Saint Leo University became the third largest Catholic University in the nation. Under his leadership, Saint Leo’s annual revenue grew from $26 million in 1997 to over $170 million in 2015 and net assets grew from $19 million to over $175 million. The University’s endowment increased more than tenfold, and the combination of endowment and cash reserves exceeded $100 million at the time of Artie’s retirement – up from $6 million in 1997.

In total, Artie has spent 32 years as president of a college or university. While he was busy advancing his career and leading institutions of higher education, Beverly was busy raising the couple’s two children, Arthur and Whitney. She eventually resumed her teaching career in New York and Florida, respectively.


It was during Artie’s brief stint as Director of Kean’s Alumni Office, as well as President of the Kean University Alumni Association, that both he and Beverly embraced the spirit and importance of giving back. Since then, the pair of alumni have always remembered and honored the significance of Kean in their lives and continued to generously support the University’s Sigma Beta Tau Endowed Scholarship, the Centennial Fund and the Kean Fund for Excellence.


“The mission is what
drives me”

- Rose Gonnella

Rose Gonnella: Kean University Associate Dean, Michael Graves College And Passionate Advocate For Her Craft And Her Students

Rose Gonnella was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, and is the second of her parents’ three children. Both immigrants from Italy with very little, if any, formal education, her father, Joe, worked as a printer and her mother, Josie, was employed as a seamstress and dressmaker for Jonathan Logan. The Gonnella’s placed great value on hard work and instilled in their children the importance of getting an education.

Rose attended St. Aloysius High School in Jersey City, during which time her inclination towards creativity became apparent. She went on to study design at Rutgers University before earning a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Rochester Institute of Design. It was not until a brief period of attendance at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, however, that Rose truly uncovered her passion for the field of graphic design.

Rose began her career as a graphic arts designer at the Macy’s flagship store, located in New York City’s Herald Square. At the same time, in an effort to supplement her salary, she took on a part-time position as an adjunct design instructor at Rutgers. This was where Rose discovered her love of teaching. From Rutgers, she accepted a part-time teaching position at Kean University – a role that evolved into full-time in 1987.

Initially, Rose taught courses in the Fine Arts Department which, at that time, was housed in Kean’s Vaughn Eames Hall. She was among a group of dedicated faculty who established programs in the graphic, advertising, interior, and industrial design disciplines. Over time, these programs grew into their own department of design and, from there, into a school – the first within the University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and, ultimately, into the autonomous Robert Busch School of Design, or RBSD, which is presently one of two Schools in the Michael Graves College.

As the Executive Director of RBSD, Rose also played a key role in securing the commitment of the late Michael Graves to lend not only his name, but his vision, as well, for a School of Architecture at Kean. She fondly recalled being challenged by then President of Kean University, Dr. Dawood Farahi, to get a world-class architect to put their name on an academic program. Rose contacted Mr. Graves and conveyed Kean’s interest in establishing a School of Architecture, offering him a “blank canvas” on which to establish it. The rest, as they say, is history!

Rose is not only a passionate advocate for her craft and her students, but she is also a philanthropist in her own right. When asked why, she replied, “My parents not only paid for me and my siblings’ education, they encouraged us to pursue academic goals even beyond earning bachelor’s degrees. Despite not having formal educations of their own, they placed a great emphasis on how an education can change your life.”

In honor of her parents, Rose established The Joe and Josie Gonnella Annual Scholarship, which supports incoming Kean freshmen looking towards earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design. “As a first-generation college student,” she stated, “the mission of Kean deeply resonates with me. I believe that I can make a difference at Kean, both professionally and philanthropically. The mission is what drives me.”


Kean University Partners With Yahoo To Market Virtual Summit

In July 2021, Kean University partnered with Yahoo to host a two-day, virtual summit entitled “Step Forward: Careers and Community.” The interactive symposium featured nine breakout sessions during which participants could choose from various topics of discussion, including racial and social justice, mental health and wellness and many more. Additionally, a free career fair, speed mentoring sessions and career development workshops were also offered to participants over the course of the two-day event.

Kean was delighted when asked to promote such a large-scale, impactful symposium to the Kean community, not to mention proud to have robust Cougar representation during the summit!

Meghan Muniz, Senior Program Manager of Diversity and Inclusion at Verizon Media, had this to say about the event’s overall success: “It’s exciting to bring this inaugural program to life. It has brought people from around the world, and from a variety of communities, together to discuss issues that impact us all and solutions to make a better, more equitable world for everyone. I am grateful for partners like Kean University that promote these opportunities for awareness and networking to their students, alumni and employees; having voices from within these communities adds value to the conversation and program.”

We want to thank Meghan and Yahoo for affording Kean the opportunity to partner and for sharing this wonderful experience with the Kean community!


Kean University Athletics’ First Annual Golf Outing


On Monday, August 2, 2021, the Kean University Athletics Department hosted its inaugural Annual Golf Outing.

Graciously sponsored by JCT Solutions, one of the largest system integrators in the metropolitan area focused on security, communications and networking, located in Springfield Township, New Jersey, the event took place at Galloping Hill Golf Course, located in Kenilworth, New Jersey. Those in attendance included Kean University President, Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., Kean administration and staff members, alumni, generous donors and friends of the University.

The golfers could not have asked for a more perfect day to be out on the links, and the assortment of foursomes took to the course at 9:00 am sharp. A scramble format was employed to avoid any pileups and contests were scattered across the 18-hole course, including a “Longest Drive”. Of course, mulligans were available for those in need, but they were no use at the contest holes!

A reception and awards ceremony took place following the completion of all rounds, during which attendees were treated to lunch and a special video highlighting Kean Athletics, including commentary from Cougar athletes. President Repollet addressed the crowd, as did Kean’s Director of Athletics, Kelly Williams, who expressed his gratitude for the tremendous support of Kean Athletics. “From start to finish, the entire day truly embodied the spirit of not only Kean Athletics, but Kean University as a whole,” he stated. “It would not have been possible without the support of our event sponsor, JCT Solutions, and everyone who came out to help make our department’s first outing an amazing and memorable one. We could not be more grateful for the outpouring of generosity we received!”

It was a wonderful day, brimming with Cougar Pride, and we already have our sights set on the 2022 event!


“Kean took a chance on
me, and it is so important
the University take a
chance on someone else.”

- Dr. Philip J. Pandolfi, DMD ‘80

Kean Alumnus’ Distinguished Career Exemplifies Kean Spirit And Determination

It is not everyday that a kid growing up in Wallington, New Jersey, becomes an award-winning dentist following a distinguished military career with the United States Army. It is, however, a true story for Dr. Philip Pandolfi, an alumnus who truly exemplifies the determination, dedication and spirit intrinsic to Kean graduates who defy the odds and excel in their life’s pursuits.

When Phil was 17 years old, he was informed by his high school guidance counselor that he was not strong enough academically to attend college. He proceeded to prove his guidance counselor wrong by gaining acceptance to Kean University and embarking on a distinguished career.

Phil graduated from Kean in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology, after which he pursued, and earned, a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry from the University of Louisville in 1987. He also completed an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency at the University of Texas at Houston. Phil earned a total of 12 military awards and 2 civilian awards during his tenure with the United States Army, two of which were for service in nearby Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm while stationed in Iraq with the 3rd Armored Division. He has also earned eight professional certifications, authored 12 dental publications and delivered multiple lectures on both the field of dentistry and the military.

Phil smiled while recalling his most memorable military achievement, an exercise that took place while he attended a United States Army Airborne Course during his R.O.T.C. training and resulted in him earning a Parachutist Badge and three physical education credits. As for civilian recognition, Phil unequivocally stated being inducted into the Wallington High School Academic Hall of Fame. He recalled being contacted about the induction and his initial reaction could not mask his natural sense of humor as he asked, “Are you sure you have the right guy?!”

As is common among undergraduates when they begin their college experience, Phil recollected feeling poorly prepared at the start of his four years at Kean University. Kean, however, gave him the chance he needed. Phil stated one class, in particular, that made a lasting impression on him was Histology, or the study of tissues, muscle and bones. He credits this course with pointing him in the direction of a career in the health field.

As part of his degree’s core requirements, Phil completed two art-related courses – namely, Art History I and Art History II. Unknown to him at the time, these classes would act as a precursor for a lifelong love of art and culture. Phil developed an appreciation for all that can be learned through the study of art, as well as a passion for exploring and discovering art which he happily passed along to his children.

When asked about his ongoing support of Kean University, Phil replied, “Kean took a chance on me, and it is so important the University take a chance on someone else.”

Phil currently resides in Chester, Virginia, where he is an Oral Surgeon.


Student Spotlight: Anijah Jackson

When Anijah Jackson of Dunellen, New Jersey, began her college search, her dream was to attend an out-of-state school. However, Anijah kept her options open and applied to Kean University, as well, due in large part to Kean’s reputation for affordability. While completing her application for Kean, she decided to apply to the Education Opportunity Fund (“EOF”) Program. Anijah already had some knowledge of the EOF Program and hoped, if accepted, it would offer her assistance by way of grants and both academic and professional support. To her delight, she was accepted!

Anijah attended the EOF Program’s Summer Academy prior to the start of her freshman year at Kean. The counselors in the program encouraged everyone in attendance to get involved in student life, and Anijah heard them loud and clear! She has since flourished during her time at Kean. An active presence on campus, she has served as Vice President of both her sophomore and junior classes and is a member of multiple student organizations, including the Pan-African Student Union, the National Society of Leadership and Success, the Honor Society, and the Epsilon Epsilon Omega Honor Society. Anijah also has an interest in community engagement, having co-founded the Multicultural Alliance of Dunellen, a nonprofit advocacy organization devoted to the inclusion, empowerment and advancement of underrepresented groups and individuals.

During the past summer, Anijah tutored incoming Kean freshmen who have been accepted into the EOF Program. She intends to remain a tutor throughout the Fall 2021 Term, as well. When asked why she decided to offer this assistance, she said, “It has been great to give back and support students who are in the same place I was four years ago.” Anijah credits the successes she has achieved while attending Kean to the guidance and encouragement she has received from her counselor and the staff within the EOF Program. She plans to graduate in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, after which she intends to pursue a career in education.


Your Family Letter

A family letter is a key element of a good estate plan. It is much more personal than many of your other estate documents. A letter of this nature affords you an opportunity to share a message from your heart, to show appreciation and to express gratitude to your family members. During a time when family members are grieving, it also helps them with the completion of the many practical, necessary steps put in place to protect your property.

The family letter may be comprised of up to ten different sections, each of which will cover an important, but separate, topic. These sections include estate data, important documentation, accounts and passwords, family history, care for surviving family members, such as children and even pets, funeral and/or memorial service arrangements, obituary, and final words or blessings for your family.

For more details, please click click here or contact James Gurland, Chief Development Officer, via email: or phone: (908) 316-8924


Creating Opportunities!

When you give to the Kean Fund for Excellence, you are creating opportunities!

A new academic year is full of promise, and opportunities are abundant for Kean students and faculty.

Opportunities for deserving students to receive a Kean education.

Opportunities for individuals to climb the economic ladder.

Opportunities for the next big idea!

Please consider making a gift to the Kean Fund for Excellence and help create opportunities for the future!


Questions? Comments? Info?

Kean University Foundation, Inc.
1000 Morris Avenue, Union, New Jersey 07083
908-316-8920 | 908-316-8921 (Fax) 
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