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$5 Million Challenge

A bold offer rallies Drewids to a common cause.

The Drew community—trustees, alumni, parents of students, faculty staff and friends—rallied to raise more than $5 million in seven months to meet a heady challenge from Steven M. Gilbert, a generous donor and son of the late Drew math professor Norma Gilbert (above).

He offered $1 million if Drew raised $4 million—and our community kicked into gear. Energized by a social media campaign joined by President MaryAnn Baenninger and intensified by personal phone calls from trustees and alumni, 105 donors contributed $5,000 or more with a total of 3,000-plus donors embracing the challenge. This challenge highlights the power of sustained support across generations. Particularly inspiring is one of the first donations received: a gift of $250,000 from The Baldwin Foundation, run by the family of Drew trustee—and great-grandson of Brothers College co-founder Arthur Baldwin—the Reverend Dr. D. Stuart Dunnan. It represents a commitment to Drew that has spanned the history of the University and is a model for others.

The University exceeded Gilbert’s goal, raising a whopping $4.3 million and bringing the total value of the challenge to $5.3 million with Gilbert’s matching gift. The response demonstrates the power of the Drew community to mobilize around a common cause. “I’m shouting proud to see so many fellow donors rally around Drew, especially when so many chips are on the table,” says Gilbert. “The University meant much to my mother, so this is a fitting tribute to her as well.” The challenge was not the first time Gilbert threw his support behind Drew. In 2016, with a $3 million donation, he created the Norma Gilbert Junior Professorship in Mathematics to honor his mother, a math pioneer who taught at Drew for 25 years and chaired the department in the 1970s; two exceptional young mathematicians have since joined the Drew faculty as Gilbert Professors. And that gift followed his 2005 Gilbert Family Scholarship in Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics, which aids promising students facing financial challenges.

“Our donors are phenomenal, and their response to Steve Gilbert’s challenge was amazing,” says President MaryAnn Baenninger. “We are so grateful for their generosity, which fuels our growing momentum.”

One good turn deserves another.

The recently completed Gilbert Challenge was a sprint. Building on this momentum, Steven Gilbert is rallying Drew to join a marathon running through 2026:

Challenge 1 matches gifts designated to mathematics or chemistry education. If we raise $1.125 million by June 30, 2026, Drew will receive an additional $750,000.

Challenge 2 also matches gifts designated to mathematics or chemistry education, but ups the ante. If an additional $1.5 million is received between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2026, Drew will receive an additional $3 million.

For more information about supporting math and chemistry at Drew, please contact Karen DiMaria at 973.408.3020 or kdimaria@drew.edu.


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