Like all university presidents, Seton Hall University’s Joseph Nyre talks about making a college education more affordable.
On Tuesday, Nyre showed he is making it a personal mission.
Nyre and his wife, Kelli Nyre, announced they are making a personal gift of $500,000 to the university. The donation will underwrite scholarships for students and innovative research and instructional activities of faculty.
The Nyres, who meet regularly with Seton Hall donors across the country, said they are intimately familiar with the university’s priorities and the tremendous impact of philanthropic gifts on the university and its students and faculty.
The gift will be added to the university’s endowment. Although the Nyres will not have any personal control over how the funds will be allocated, they expressed their strong desire that the university use the money toward financial scholarships for students and funding for faculty research and instruction.
Kevin Marino, chair of the Seton Hall University board of regents, said the school is fortunate to have such servant leaders who are willing and eager to give back.
“We are blessed to have a president and first lady who are committed advocates for college affordability and faculty support,” he said. “The Nyres stand behind the very priorities they ask others to support. That is the essence and validation of leadership, and we are grateful to have them at the helm.”
Kelli Nyre said the couple is thrilled to be in a position to donate.
“We are very fortunate to be part of the Seton Hall community and to see firsthand the transformation that takes place on our campuses,” she said. “If we’re asking people to give to Seton Hall, we need to show that we believe in Seton Hall and its people, 100%.”
Nyre recalled when the couple had similar needs.
“I remember our discussions when Joe was in graduate school about someday having the opportunity to help students struggling financially,” she said.
As a first-generation college student, Joseph Nyre joined the Navy and benefited from the GI Bill, relied on family, worked full-time while in college and assumed student loans to pay for his education.
As president, he is known to frequently repeat his mantra: “We want students graduating focused on their future rather than how to pay for their past.”
The couple said they understand how a college education can open doors that have been closed to families for generations. With 35% of its incoming freshman class this year identifying as first-generation, Seton Hall University is actively engaged in opening these doors of opportunity for thousands of young people every year.
“When it comes to helping students with financial need, for us, it’s personal,” Kelli Nyre said.
The Nyres also expressed the importance of financially supporting faculty, who are central to inspiring students to reach beyond their grasp.
“When Kelli and I sat down in December to discuss this gift with university officials, we talked about how the faculty we encountered throughout our college careers made learning exciting, challenged us and helped us navigate our paths,” Joseph Nyre said. “Faculty are vital to delivering the mission of Seton Hall, a premiere Catholic university, and we are pleased to support them through this gift and through the work we do each day.”
Kelli Nyre, a former elementary school teacher, recalled a professor she had at the University of Kansas, Flora Wyatt, who was not only an exemplary teacher, but also a mentor and friend who invited the Nyres to her home.
Joseph Nyre recalled working with Dr. Michael Roberts at the University of Kansas, who founded the university’s clinical child psychology program. They conducted research and built innovative treatment programs together, with Roberts taking Nyre “under his wing.”
The two still stay in touch to this day.
Provost Katia Passerini said she is confident the Nyres and member of the Seton Hall faculty are building similar relationships.
“The Nyres’ generosity speaks to the heart of Seton Hall and its future,” she said. “The greatest investment you can make that will truly elevate the university and have a far-reaching impact is an investment in students and faculty.
“Our faculty are the core of the university, lifting up every student whose lives they touch. We are blessed with an extraordinary group of talented and inspirational educators, scholars and professionals. They join me in expressing heartfelt gratitude toward President and Mrs. Nyre for this extremely generous personal investment.”