We thank all our planned-gift donors for their generous support. Here are some of their stories.
Ellen Conley – A Civil Rights Legacy
During his long and illustrious career, Charles Swinger Conley ’55 fought civil rights cases small and large, counseled movement leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy, and eventually became Alabama’s first elected black judge.
Ellen Conley, pictured above, was her husband’s chauffeur and protector in the turbulent ‘60s, especially when he worked at his office late into the night. “I’d always insist on getting out of the car first,” she says. “If a bullet was coming, it would get me. Chuck had important work to finish.”
To ensure that future graduates of Judge Conley’s alma mater would continue to have the chance to pursue their passions in civil rights and public interest law, the Conleys made provisions for a $1.2 million gift that endowed the Honorable Charles Swinger Conley Scholarship and funded a permanent memorial at the Law School honoring his outstanding legal accomplishments and historic career. Ellen Conley has also named NYU School of Law as a beneficiary of her own estate.
“NYU Law gave my husband a chance to study the law, a chance he never would have had otherwise, and what he learned gave him the tools to fight for change. We both wanted to give back to the community that had really embraced us in the hopes that others would have similar transformational experiences.”
Vincent Rotondo Gives Back to NYU
Vincent J. Rotondo (COM ’57) came from a family that knew hardship. His father died when he was five years old; his mother then worked as a seamstress, raising a family of ten on her own.
As a teenager, Vince contracted tuberculosis. Separated from his family, he was confined in a hospital ward for long-term treatment. While in the hospital, Vince was visited regularly by a volunteer nurse who, recognizing Vince’s talents, took an interest in his future. She persistently raised the possibility of his attending college, but Vince knew that his family needed him to find a job after his release.
Vince completed an application to NYU, just to appease the nurse. Shortly after his release from the hospital, he received notification of his acceptance at NYU, and the award of a full scholarship made it feasible for him to attend. Vince studied business and accounting at the School of Commerce, now NYU Stern. He recognized early on that the NYU scholarship had transformed his life and that of his family. After a long and varied career he retired as an accounting executive at New York’s Montefiore Hospital.
Vince always harbored the desire to provide other students with the same opportunity that he received at NYU. He never felt comfortable giving away his assets during his lifetime, but through the NYU Charitable Gift Annuity, Vince was able to make a number of contributions to the University. In return he received lifetime income, with the remaining assets to be used by the University to fund scholarship awards for deserving students.
The gift annuity became a comfortable giving arrangement; Vince described treating each gift to NYU’s future students as an investment for himself as well. And he found it so helpful and attractive that, upon his death in 2015, he left his entire estate to NYU to provide gift annuity income for his close friends and family members. The gift annuities pay income to the beneficiaries for their lives, and then the remaining funds will be used according to Vince’s direction to add to the permanent named endowed scholarships at the Stern School of Business and the Tisch School of the Arts.
Vince’s youth was difficult, but he parlayed a stranger’s kind advice into an NYU education, a successful career, and an opportunity to help others in the same way that he was helped.
In Celebration of Alfred Abraham’s 75th Class Year
In 2017, Al Abraham celebrated the 75th anniversary of his NYU Stern (formerly School of Commerce) graduation in 1941.
Immediately after completing high school, Al started working at a local bank near his home in Tarrytown. Developing an interest in finance and accounting, he enrolled at NYU and commuted to his night classes. Al remembers—perhaps not always fondly—returning home from a day at the bank for an early supper, and then rushing off to catch the 4:38pm train to arrive in time for his first class at 6pm, returning to Tarrytown after 10pm.
After Al earned his NYU degree, he worked as an accountant at a major firm, and then at Estee Lauder as their first Controller after its founding in 1946. Following a career as a financial executive, he accepted a position as Treasurer and Financial Vice President at Congress Financial, an early leader in asset based lending, later known as CoreStates. He stayed with CoreStates for the remainder of his career.
After his retirement, the company relied on Al’s expertise and retained him as a consultant. He returned to NYU as an adjunct instructor, teaching retail finance management courses, and he was a frequent contributor to finance and accounting journals.
Throughout his career, Al has been a supporter of NYU Stern and its students. He established the Alfred B. Abraham Scholarship Fund to permit future generations of students to benefit from the same opportunities his NYU education provided.
In addition to his annual support for NYU Stern and the scholarship fund, Al has added to the scholarship fund with contributions to the NYU Charitable Gift Annuity, which pays him a high and secure income for life. In this way, his contributions serve as investment for himself, as well as for NYU Stern and its students. As Al says, “I try to stay abreast of the latest creative thinking on financial planning, and the Charitable Gift Annuity is the best way I’ve found to make a gift that matters for NYU, while helping myself with substantial income and tax advantages.”
As a longstanding and proud member of NYU Stern’s Haskins Giving Society and of the Society of the Torch, Al returns to campus frequently, meeting students, faculty and other alumni. And during his visits he inspires others with his story of how NYU Stern contributed to his success.
To learn more about how you can support NYU’s students and faculty through your estate plans and through gifts that pay you income, please contact NYU’s Office of Gift Planning.
Micheline and Bill Steckman: Lifelong Teachers and Their Legacy for Students
Micheline and Bill Steckman met as NYU undergraduates, married, earned a combined five NYU degrees, and spent the next 64 years together. Over those years, their marriage led to an enduring interest in teaching and travel.
Micheline (WSC ’52, GSAS ’54) was born in Paris and emigrated to the United States just after the Second World War. She earned Phi Beta Kappa recognition at NYU and became a scholar of French literature. Her lifelong passion was to foster interest in French culture by teaching French to students of all ages.
Bill (WSC ’52, GSAS ’56, Stern Ph.D. ’67) held administrative and faculty positions in the Graduate Business Program of NYU, a visiting professorship at the US Military Academy at West Point, and was a long-time Professor of Management and Organizational Behavior at Long Island University. He also served as a Human Resource consultant to leading business organizations and government agencies. Author of “Taming One-on-One Conflict”, Bill spoke widely on the topic of conflict resolution. After his retirement from higher education as Professor Emeritus at LIU, Bill satisfied his thirst for travel by teaching in numerous Elderhostel (now “Road Scholar”) programs. Ultimately, the couple visited all 50 states and 25 countries.
Micheline and Bill long resided on Long Island and shared a love of the water. For decades they lived in Massapequa on the South Shore, and more recently in Greenport on the North Shore; they have always lived within the sound of the surf.
Micheline passed away early in 2015, and Bill recently confirmed their joint commitment to leave a substantial legacy to support fellowships—Fellowships in French Literature and Culture at the Graduate School of Arts and Science, and Doctoral Fellowships at the Stern School of Business that will bear their names. As Bill remarked, “Both of us always felt that we owed a lot to the University - our careers, our livelihood, and the actual sharing of our personal lives in a devoted marriage. So we wanted a truly meaningful way to express our gratitude to NYU. We concluded that the best way to accomplish that goal would be through supporting fellowships in our respective fields. Such a legacy makes it possible for future generations of deserving students to attend NYU’s Graduate programs and enrich their lives as we did.”
Ray and Kitty Katzell and their Legacy for NYU's Students
Ray and Kitty Katzell were closely connected to the University from the day Ray arrived as an undergraduate at the Heights campus in 1935, at the age of 16. He completed his bachelors at NYU in 1939, his masters at the Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) in 1941, and his doctorate in 1943. Except for a few years after World War II, he was continuously associated with the University from then until he retired in 1985.
Kitty earned her doctoral degree at Columbia, but she did take one course at NYU. For Kitty, this may not have been the most auspicious welcome to the NYU family; she and Ray were married on the day of her final exam in that course, and Kitty received a permanent grade of "Incomplete".
Ray was an early leader in the field of organizational psychology, and initiated a cooperative program of research and education between GSAS and the NYU School of Engineering in 1957, holding a joint appointment to both schools. He served as chair of the Psychology Department from 1963 to 1972, and continued teaching in that department until his retirement in 1985. As emeritus professor he maintained an office at the department and close relationships with the department's graduate students until his death.
Ray was a leading light in the nascent areas of research in motivation, productivity and job satisfaction. His seminal and visionary research into discrimination in employment testing led to Ray's chairing of the federal committee that led to the first EEOC testing guidelines. His prominence and deep influence resulted in his name appearing as a crossword puzzle solution in the house publication of the American Psychological Association. Ray was also a devoted antique car collector, and editor of a prize-winning book, The Splendid Stutz.
Ray and Kitty were deeply committed to the psychology department's students through the decades, and following Ray's retirement, they provided in their estates for the endowment of fellowship awards in their names for post-graduate students. They also realized that investing in the NYU Charitable Gift Annuity would be a wise financial choice while also helping to build up the fellowship fund. They contributed to their first gift annuity in 2002, and Kitty continued to make additional contributions to it almost every year. As Kitty remarked, "The money is safe, I don't have to keep track of the market, and the quarterly payments are deposited directly to my bank. It's a very simple and reassuring way to do well by doing good."
Joe Cillo ENG'62 has fashioned his life around inquiry, innovation and inventiveness. He attended Brooklyn Tech, just a few blocks from home, then enrolled in the aeronautics program at NYU's Engineering College, at the former University Heights campus. The first in his family to attend college, NYU's offer of a full scholarship—and work as a dance instructor - made his education possible. While at NYU Heights, he lived just off-campus in the Psi Upsilon fraternity he joined; he still remembers fondly the camaraderie.
After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, NYU revolutionized its aeronautical engineering curriculum by transitioning its focus to aeronautics/astronautics. Suddenly Joe, his classmates and professors became part of a crucial national focus on space flight and space exploration. Students in his graduating class of 13 were among the first academically-trained Aeronautics/Astronautics engineers (that is, rocket scientists) in the U.S.
Joe enjoyed the exhilaration of reinventing his studies and himself, and throughout his career demonstrated the flexibility and curiosity that he acquired at NYU Engineering. After graduation, he worked in the space program, while simultaneously obtaining an MBA at UCLA, thanks to a Masters Fellowship from his employer, Hughes Aerospace. The combination of his technical and business training contributed to a long, varied, and successful career, during which he created, launched and managed a number of first-ever high-tech products and businesses. He served as a change agent for leading-edge companies including TRW, IBM, Bank of America, and Apple, before starting his own firm.
Even in semi-retirement Joe uses the latest technology tools to his advantage, creating internet businesses, including his latest: a website permitting users to share travel experiences from around the world.
Owing so much to the educational institutions that paved his way, Joe has provided for generous legacies to Brooklyn Tech, Psi Upsilon and UCLA. And most importantly, he is building on his dedicated annual giving to NYU in gratitude for the scholarship he received. Pleased that NYU has reenergized its traditional strength in science and technology by the addition of the Tandon School of Engineering—the former Polytechnic—he is establishing a named permanent scholarship fund for future generations of curious and dedicated engineering students. "I want to help the University's Momentum Campaign for Scholarships to be successful for NYU Engineering," he says, "and hope that my classmates and colleagues from the Heights and Tandon join me in supporting the engineers/scientists to come."
Judy Tobias Davis, a leading light of NYU's Silver School of Social Work and an honoree at the School's Fiftieth Anniversary, made a major contribution to the School through the NYU Charitable Gift Annuity. Her gift reflects a long involvement with the School—and an appreciation of the unique financial advantages of charitable gifts that pay income back to the donor.
Soon after the start of World War II, Judy married Seth Tobias. With her husband serving overseas, and while busy as a young mother, the war years and their aftermath strengthened Judy's sense of social activism. She became deeply committed to the problems of inner-city children here at home, as well as the plight of war orphans overseas. As early as her twenties, Judy held board positions and leadership roles with non-profit organizations that dealt with these grave social problems. Until her passing, she was active on the boards of the Citizens' Committee for Children and Goddard Riverside Community Center.
As president of the Child Study Association of America in the 1960s, Judy came to know Jack Goldberg, the New York City Commissioner for Social Services. When Jack was appointed dean of NYU's School of Social Work, he turned to Judy for help in solving the School's financial troubles. After Dean Goldberg's death, his successors recognized the value of Judy's expertise and persuaded her to remain at the School.
Judy worked tirelessly to appeal to friends of the School as well as alumni, telling the story of the School and explaining its unique contributions to the life of the City and the country as a whole. Judy's endeavors among many different communities around New York City eventually resulted in the fulfillment of the School's early vision—a single large and renovated facility of its own, consisting of three landmark row houses on Washington Square North. Judy's own generous support for the School named a large room in memory of her late husband Seth, a space that was formerly the studio of artist Edward Hopper.
Judy's two sons—Stephen and Andrew—have enjoyed success and prominence in their own fields, Stephen as a lawyer and Andrew as a noted financial writer and treasurer of the Democratic National Committee. Judy's sons became important advisors to her when she was contemplating her gift to the Silver School.
"When NYU approached me with information about how I could make a gift and receive a high and secure income through the charitable gift annuity, I turned to my sons for advice," Judy said. "Both agreed that the gift annuity is an excellent opportunity to help support the School, which means so much to me, while benefiting myself as well."
"From the annuity, the University pays me a high income—a higher yield than I could get from bonds or CD's, particularly in these tough economic times." she said. "Andy suggested that I make my gift with appreciated stock, so that I avoid capital gains tax and effectively reinvest the entire value of my stock for a higher income. Additionally, I obtained a substantial income tax deduction when I made my gift. For all these reasons, this gift was a wise choice for me... and a meaningful one for the School."
Natalie Osherow Kahn-Lipsett
Natalie Osherow Kahn-Lipsett (CAS '42) recognizes the debt she owes NYU for the scholarship she received as a young wartime refugee. She has set aside a major place for NYU in her estate plans, providing a generous legacy of scholarships for future generations of students.
Natalie's family fled Europe just a few days prior to Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939. Shortly after settling in Brooklyn, Natalie was offered a scholarship at NYU's Washington Square College. Taking advantage of the expertise she acquired in language and literature, Natalie began teaching Russian and German to the budding engineers and scientists at Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn, and she remained at Poly through her entire academic career. While teaching at Poly, Natalie earned her Master's degree in language education at NYU's Steinhardt School and qualified for a doctorate in comparative literature.
"I am delighted and proud to be a member of both the NYU and NYU-Poly families. These two institutions have always been remarkable and exciting places for teaching and learning, and their new relationship will add to their academic strength. Through my legacy, I am happy to make it possible for future students to obtain the educational advantages that I received from NYU."
Dean Emeritus Abraham L. Gitlow
A remarkable teacher, charismatic leader and prolific author, Abraham L. Gitlow played a principal role in the rapid ascent of NYU's Leonard N. Stern School of Business to its position as an internationally renowned institution. Abe began his career at NYU in 1947 as an instructor, and served as Dean from 1965 to 1985. Abe's leadership enabled the School to survive the most difficult financial times in its history during the late 1960s. His academic interests were broad, including labor economics and industrial relations, corporate management, and ethics. Dean Gitlow's expertise in both economics and anthropology informed his outlook on the role of human behavior and values in institutional cultures and structures.
Prior to his passing in 2014, Abe was Dean Emeritus and Professor of Economics Emeritus at the Stern School of Business and he continued to teach after retirement and completed his fifteenth book. His previous works include a history of the Stern School.
Dean Gitlow left an indelible imprint on his students, who honored him by establishing the Gitlow Conference Room, the Gitlow Professorship of Management and Organizations, and the Abraham L. Gitlow Prize, awarded each year to a Stern School undergraduate
Dean Gitlow's focus on values was reflected in his tradition of giving to the Stern School. His financial support established a classroom in his parents' name and the Abraham L. Gitlow Scholarship Fund, established in part through his frequent contributions to the NYU Charitable Gift Annuity, leaving a meaningful legacy for students at the Stern School.
For Gilbert Bieger (STERN ’48) getting an education at NYU involved hard work and big sacrifices, just as it was—and remains—for others. During his undergraduate career at NYU, Gil worked at a bank full time. After sharing his income with his mother and paying his commuting costs, he could afford NYU tuition only because his employer provided lunch.
Recognizing that many students today face similar challenges, Gil helped future generations of Stern students avoid the challenges that he faced, by providing a legacy in his will for a scholarship fund at NYU’s Stern School.
Professor Robert E. Berger
For Professor Robert E. Berger, NYU was home throughout his teaching career. Professor Berger joined the NYU’s faculty in 1956 and retired in 1989. During his three decades at the University, Professor Berger taught in the Political Science and History departments, while also serving as a dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science and sustaining close relationships with undergraduate students, to whose education and future he felt an extraordinary devotion.
He became closely involved with pre-law students and programming at Washington Square College, and, as a mentor to the College’s pre-law students, grew to be seen as a beloved father figure to generations of future lawyers.
Professor Berger left NYU a generous legacy consisting of his entire estate, for the support of students and faculty in the academic departments that played a crucial role in his life.
As thousands of students do each year, Essie Barry came to New York City in 1959 to pursue her dream of a college education.
Born on a former slave plantation in Mississippi, Essie was 46 years old and a widowed mother of three when she came to the City without friends, family, money, or a ticket home.
And she persevered. Over a period of 17 years, Essie worked during the day, first as a live-in domestic and later as a teacher. She studied at night, earning six separate degrees. She completed her last degree, as M.S. in Education Administration, at the Steinhardt School in 1975 at age 62. Essie’s daughter Carlita eventually joined her in New York, earned an undergraduate scholarship to NYU, and then attended the NYU School of Medicine.
In recognition of the opportunities that NYU gave her, Essie provided in her will for a generous legacy for student scholarships.
Eberhard Berent and Paul Lott
Inspired by their dedication to art and culture, Eberhard Berent and Paul Lott made gifts to the University through the NYU Charitable Gift Annuity, which will pay them a high and secure income throughout their lifetimes and substantially lower their taxes.
“This is all my real savings,” says Berent, a professor emeritus of NYU who used his gift to establish a new professorship in Goethe Studies. “I wanted to use it to create something meaningful and support the University that has played a central role in my life.” The Charitable Gift Annuity enables him to promote NYU’s continued excellence while also achieving his own financial objectives.
Lott, an expert in tax and finance, used his gift to establish a lectureship and fellowships in fine art. “In this time of economic uncertainty, I can’t see a more rewarding and stable way to support the arts and help increase my retirement income,” he says.
For both Prof. Berent and Mr. Lott, giving to NYU is a hallmark of their commitment to the world of art and culture, and wise planning helps them enjoy their gifts and take full advantage of the financial and tax benefits.
Paul and Gloria Einhorn
Grateful for tuition assistance he received when he was a student at NYU, Paul Einhorn (STERN '39) and his wife Gloria have long desired to establish a permanent scholarship fund at the Stern School. "Education is the greatest gift," Paul says. "I wanted to pay NYU back for the education I received, and help students obtain the same advantages I experienced."
For the Einhorns, the chance to give back finally arrived—on a scale much greater than they had imagined possible. Their charitable goals and financial circumstances, combined with the tax laws, presented an opportunity in the form of a Charitable Remainder Trust. Paul faced a significant capital gain if he sold his highly appreciated stock. Instead, he contributed the stock to the CRT, avoided the capital gain, and the CRT became a source of income for Paul and Gloria. Ultimately, the trust assets will create the scholarship fund they had dreamed of.
Donald Simms named the Leonard N. Stern School of Business as the principal beneficiary of his estate. Mr. Simms remembered the Stern School so generously because of his desire to provide tuition assistance and encouragement to students who would otherwise be forced to work two or even three jobs (as many of our students do), and miss out on a full appreciation and enjoyment of a close relationship with teachers and classmates.
Mr. Simms’s own story is one of perseverance and diligence. He entered the Stern School (then the School of Commerce) in 1948, shouldering a full course-load as well as working full-time on the midnight shift at a residence for delinquent children to pay for his tuition and books. Through it all, he missed the opportunity to spend time with other students—a lasting regret which compelled him to provide for a scholarship fund, so that other students will have the freedom to engage in a variety of activities and to apply themselves more fully to their studies.
Leif Olsen is the proud owner of three degrees, a transformative set of experiences, and a life-income annuity—all from New York University.
Leif took his first NYU course in 1940, when he signed up for an adult vocational education course at Washington Square. At the time, he was a recent high school graduate working in a Hoboken marine electrical shop. Following his military service in World War II, Leif immediately headed back to Washington Square and NYU. Dispatching his early dream of writing the Great American Novel, Leif took two graduate degrees in psychology at the Steinhardt School, and enjoyed a long career in the field of human resources management.
“My NYU professors did more than simply teach me,” says Leif, “they also shaped my life. I remember them all with deep appreciation and fondness.” The chair of his doctoral committee was the legendary Professor Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., who had been one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen before beginning his own NYU career.
Leif and his wife Mary made a generous gift to the Steinhardt School through the NYU Charitable Gift Annuity, which pays them a secure and fixed income for the rest of their lives. As Leif said, “We only wished we could have given even more—because the Steinhardt School deserves it, but also because we can use the income and the income tax deduction, too!”
Lucille Katz Posner
Lucille Katz Posner (WSC ’48) has supported the NYU College of Arts and Science for decades. And a large portion of her support comes in the form of contributions to NYU’s charitable gift annuity. Lucille, like many alumni, makes the NYU charitable gift annuity part of her annual giving, because of its significant financial and tax advantages.
Lucille enrolled at NYU under the GI Bill, after her service as a Naval Reserve WAVE during World War II. “Even though I attended the College as a mature student, my years there were a critical experience in making me understand the world better,” says Posner. “What I learned there and the habits of thought I encountered remain valuable to me in everything I do.”
NYU’s charitable gift annuity pays Lucille a high and secure income in exchange for her contributions. Much of her NYU annuity income is tax-free, and she obtains a substantial charitable deduction from her gifts. “I have a lifelong connection with NYU, so I want to support the College financially,” says Posner. “I’m delighted that the gift annuity makes it even easier for me to support NYU, because I receive a high income from my contributions. I can certainly use the money to support my travel addiction!”
Dr. Benjamin Wolstein arrived at NYU to pursue his second doctoral degree. He stayed at NYU to become a teacher, scholar, mentor and training analyst to generations of psychotherapists. Ben had pursued rabbinical studies early in his career, and described himself as possessing "a Western psychoanalyzed mind, an Eastern Yogic body, and a Hassidic Jewish soul."
He was a passionate and challenging teacher and analyst, and an inspirational, even mythic, figure in the field of psychoanalysis. His professional career spanned a half century as a theoretical and clinical trailblazer. Through his prolific research and writing, as well as his influence upon scores of today's leading analysts and teachers, Ben had an enormous impact on contemporary clinical psychology. A course specifically devoted to his work is now taught in NYU's Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis where he remains a major influence on new generations of students.
At his death Ben left a generous legacy to ensure the continuing excellence of the program he loved, for the benefit of future generations of students, therapists and patients.