NJCU gets $10M gift for international studies institute, performing arts center

A rendering of the planned performing arts center at New Jersey City University.

New Jersey City University announced on Thursday it has received a $10 million gift from former U.S. Rep. Frank J. Guarini to establish an international studies institute and a performing arts center.

Sue Henderson, president of the Jersey City-based liberal arts university, said the gift will create both the Frank J. Guarini Institute for International Studies and a state-of-the-art community Performing Arts Center. The arts center will be the first of its kind in Hudson County. So far, plans for the PAC have led to a partnership between NJCU and the Joffrey Ballet School to create the NJCU-Joffrey BFA in Dance program. The ballet trainer will be housed at the PAC, too.

NJCU President Sue Henderson with former U.S. Rep. Frank Guarini.

“For decades Frank Guarini has demonstrated his support of New Jersey City University and now, more than ever, is critical to the continued bright future of our community. On behalf of our students, their families and the generations of graduates to come, I want to thank Frank for his incredible generosity and investment in our vision and mission to empower all that call upon us. Both of these projects will significantly impact our County to create jobs, provide housing and foster Jersey City’s growth as a world class city to usher in a new era for our students and communities,” Henderson said.

The 25,437-square-foot PAC will be comprised of a 492-seat theater, an orchestra pit and fly stage, a 100-seat recital hall, two large dance studios with exterior glass walls, a scenery fabrication shop plus storage, a grand lobby, and a special event space.

The Guarini Institute will focus on three key areas: researching the connections between the global future of work and higher education; preparing students to study abroad; and creating international partnerships with global businesses.

“The Jersey City of tomorrow would not be possible without Frank’s support. His transformational gifts to so many important institutions here will pave the way for generations to come and we are humbled to be a part of it. I am looking forward to announcing NJCU’s celebrations to honor this historic moment along with the important groundbreaking milestones as we forge ahead together through this challenging time.” Henderson said.

Guarini, who is an established philanthropist and real estate developer, earned his undergraduate and juris doctor and Master of Law degrees from Dartmouth College and New York University School of Law, respectively. He also served as a Navy lieutenant during World War II. Upon returning, he joined Guarini & Guarini, the law firm his father founded in 1917.

When talking about his involvement with the school, Guarini said “NJCU has been a powerful advocate and important cornerstone of our community for almost 100 years. Dr. Henderson has brought a vision and vitality to this great institution and built an incredible team whose dedication to the needs of our students is impressive and inspiring. It has been an honor to witness their transformation under her leadership and I am proud to support these far reaching, impactful projects.”

Read more from ROI-NJ on Guarini: