Martinson gives record $3M gift to honors college at NJIT

Support will help transform prestigious Albert Dorman Honors College

Pioneering venture capitalist John Martinson is donating $3 million to New Jersey Institute of Technology to broaden and deepen the curriculum and real-world experiences for top scholars at its Albert Dorman Honors College and throughout the university.

The gift, the largest donation in the 27-year history of the Dorman Honors College, will be transformational, allowing the college to:

  • Add two new educational tracks;
  • Triple the number of scholars in the Honors Summer Research Institute;
  • More than double the number of scholars who study abroad;
  • Add internships and cooperative educational experiences;
  • Restructure its course offerings;
  • Create new opportunities for faculty affiliations in the college.

The donation will benefit some 650 Albert Dorman Honors Scholars as well as the nearly 300 Dean’s Scholars at the university’s five other colleges — exceptional students who excel academically, volunteer locally and are poised to become future leaders of America.

In recognition of Martinson’s generosity, NJIT will name its honors residence hall the John Martinson Honors Residence Hall. A dedication will take place in the spring 2023 semester.

NJIT President Teik Lim was thrilled to make the announcement.

“The new or enhanced activities and initiatives made possible by this exceptionally generous commitment will expand the Albert Dorman Honors College’s capacity for developing in all of its students the scientific knowledge, technical skills and personal skills and traits that will make them thoughtful, conscientious and civic-minded STEM leaders for the 21st century,” he said.

Martinson is chairman of Martinson Ventures, which has financed and guided more than 50 private companies, particularly in the software and technology sectors, with total investments of $2 million to $5 million.

Earlier in his career, he founded Edison Partners, which invested more than $2 billion in 230 companies and realized 180 exits. Martinson is also co-founder of both the New Jersey Technology Council and New Jersey Venture Fair.

NJIT recognized Martinson’s accomplishments in 2000 with an Entrepreneurial Leadership Award.

Subsequently, he became a major donor, investing a total of $835,000 in three NJIT initiatives:

  • The Computing Education Program;
  • The Institute for Teaching Excellence;
  • VITAL@NJIT, short for Virtual, Immersive, Technologically Augmented Learning.

Those gifts came under the leadership of previous Presidents Joel S. Bloom (founding dean of the ADHC) and Saul K. Fenster and with the guidance of former Provost Fadi P. Deek.

Martinson said his latest donation reflects his belief in the value of honors colleges, the quality of education at NJIT and the success of the programs he supported.

“What impresses me is that NJIT is growing in size and growing in national stature,” he said. “I’m enthusiastic about the university’s progress, transformation and vision.”

Martinson, who holds a bachelor’s in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a master’s in astronautics from Purdue University and an MBA from Southern Illinois University, said he knows quality when he sees it.

“I’ve visited over 20 honors colleges, and Dorman is among the best I’ve seen,” he said. “It’s a way to attract the very top students to local institutions. And these Top 10% become leaders on campus and after graduation.”

Faculty from across NJIT teach and mentor Dorman Scholars and will continue to do so, even as the college builds new levels for faculty affiliation from across campus and offers new resources to support faculty. As the college adds new tracks in Global Studies and Interdisciplinary Digital Studies, it will seek faculty with experience in data visualization and digital studies, global studies and service learning.

NJIT officials feel Martinson’s donation will help the honors college realize the main priorities in its strategic plan.

For that, Dean Hamilton Louis said he is profoundly grateful.

“NJIT offers an incredibly powerful, transformative education to its students,” he said. “This gift allows the Dorman College to take that transformational NJIT education to another level: Honors curricula are meant to accelerate our scholars along the path to becoming leaders in their professions and communities who understand and are committed to bettering society. This gift invests in scholars and faculty alike to bring high-impact educational practices and experiential learning into honors tracks and courses.

“These honors curricula will certainly increase the number and strength of NJIT’s applications for prestigious fellowships and graduate schools and will make our alumni even more valuable in the workforce. Most importantly, they will empower our scholars to use their technical training to be the leaders of positive change in the world.”