Yeshiva University last week received the largest single gift ever awarded to the institution, and its administrators are already thinking about how to use it.
Ronald Stanton, the former YU chairman of the board, gave the university $100 million, to be used toward undergraduate initiatives. The money will be placed in the newly created Ronald P. Stanton Legacy, which will provide funds for future projects such as new facilities, recruitment and retention of faculty, research, and scholarships.
In addition to being the largest gift YU has ever received, it is also the largest single gift contributed in North America in support of Jewish education and Jewish life, said YU President Richard Joel. "What this really is," he said, "is a really terrific philanthropist believing that Jewish life has a great future."
The Stanton Legacy will be a revolving fund, Joel said. As money is taken out to build new facilities, fund scholarships, and further other projects, it will be replenished by money from people who send named gifts related to those projects. As more gifts come in, said Joel, the university will "wean itself" off the fund.
Stanton is the chairman of Transammonia, Inc., a private company that trades, distributes, and transports fertilizer materials, liquefied petroleum gases, petrochemicals, and crude oil. Stanton was elected to the YU board of trustees in 1976 and in 199′ became vice chair. In ’00’, he was named chairman of the board and oversaw the appointment of Joel as president.
Stanton could not be reached for comment.
YU has ‘,350 students on its campus, including those in undergraduate and graduate programs as well as Stern College for Women. About 400 students, or 17 percent, are from Bergen County, the only New Jersey county for which the school has figures. The university has an annual budget of about $530 million. Some $50 million to $60 million is raised from donations and gifts, Joel said, adding that he expects Stanton’s gift to pave the way for similar donations.
"People give if they think there’s a vision," he said. "[They see] YU looking to make an historical leap forward. Other philanthropically inclined people need to know [such large gifts are] appropriate. Ron made the statement: ‘It’s appropriate.’"
There is no timetable yet for collecting the actual donation, nor specific plans for using it, Joel said. Nevertheless, the deans of YU’s undergraduate colleges have already given thought to its distribution.
David Srolovitz, dean of Yeshiva College, wants to see the number of tenure-track faculty double, and hopes to see the upgrading of undergraduate laboratories. There are currently 60 tenured or tenure-track professors at Yeshiva College, and Srolovitz would like to see 60 new faculty members added within the next seven years.
"The nice thing about this gift is that it provides incredible flexibility to us," Srolovitz said. "It’s not just to name a building or a scholarship fund. It’s there as a revolving fund for us. It’s a tribute to Mr. Stanton’s confidence in the future of Yeshiva University and how he views the president’s approach to changing the institution." Echoing Joel, Srolovitz added that the gift will become an example to others.
Karen Bacon, dean of Stern College, said she would like to see some of the funds help Stern expand its facilities on Lexington Avenue, where it operates on four floors of a building it owns, renting the other three floors to commercial companies. The rental leases will expire in the next two years, she said, and Stern’s administration is considering how it can utilize the space. She would also like to add 40 new faculty members within the next five years, and increase the size of the student body.
"I am fabulously excited by Mr. Stanton’s commitment to the undergraduates at this university," she said. "We will in no way disappoint him."