The veterinary school at Rowan University, the first of its kind in New Jersey, will be named the Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine of Rowan University — as a tribute to a $30 million donation to the school from South Jersey businessman Gerald Shreiber.
The gift was announced Friday morning, during a ceremony and groundbreaking at the site of the school’s future home on Rowan’s West Campus in Harrison Township.
The gift from Shreiber, long a donor to the school and supporter of animal welfare, is the third-largest gift to Rowan — and the second largest gift to the university from an individual.
The Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine will become only the third named veterinary school in the nation. The first class of 60-70 students is anticipated to begin studies in 2025, pending accreditation approval.
Rowan President Ali Houshmand said the school was honored by Schreiber’s generosity.
“Over the past decade, Gerry Shreiber has witnessed the growth of our institution and has supported our transformation with a dedication to student success through scholarships and the Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program,” he said.
“His generous gift demonstrates his passion — for education and for animals. His support will give our future veterinary students extraordinary opportunities to receive the best education and supports possible to improve the quality of life for the animals they treat.”
Currently, there are just 33 veterinary schools in the U.S., and only five on the East Coast. The Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine will help keep aspiring New Jersey veterinarians in state, while also attracting out-of-state students.
The $30 million gift was a natural progression of his family’s devotion to animal welfare, his support of students and his belief in the power of education.
Shreiber pledged $3 million in 2019 to establish the Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program. The gift funded the creation of a self-sustaining program that brings certified therapy dogs to campus to interact with and provide wellness resources to students. The program currently has 26 active therapy dog handlers and 28 active therapy dogs.
Shreiber, 81, grew up in a blue-collar family outside Atlantic City. He currently lives on a 113-acre farm in Mullica Hill with his wife, Melanie Shreiber. They have numerous rescue animals, including dogs, horses, burros, goats and a cat.
“This gift represents everything I’m passionate about,” he said. “Animals help all of us live richer, fuller, more active lives. They have enriched my life tremendously. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can help a broader group of talented people pursue their passion to treat and serve animals. I’m delighted and honored to help make a difference in veterinary medical education.”
The gift from Shreiber will support scholarships to help keep the costs of a veterinary school education affordable for students, according to Matthew Edson, founding dean of the school.
“With the traditionally high costs of a DVM degree, finding ways to reduce graduate educational debt is an important goal for our new program,” Edson said. “We’re excited to be able to offer in-state tuition options for state residents, as well as to address the growing need for veterinarians within New Jersey and across the country.
“It’s hard to overstate how much of a game changer Mr. Shreiber’s gift is for our veterinary school and for our students. This will allow us to provide substantial, perpetual scholarship support for aspiring veterinarians for generations to come. We’re so very grateful for his generosity and support of our students and our mission.”
Houshmand noted that the university has a proud history of maximizing gifts for maximum impact, such as the $100 million gift from Henry and Betty Rowan in 1992 that led to the establishment of a nationally ranked Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering.
“We have seen from the Rowan gift and others to our institution over the past 30 years that extraordinary generosity can positively impact multiple lives,” he said. “Mr. Shreiber has made an investment in our university and we’re proud to earn his confidence.”
About Gerald Shreiber
Gerald Shreiber serves as chairman of the board of Pennsauken-based J&J Snack Foods Corp. Shreiber bought what was then a bankrupt pretzel company in 1971 and turned it into a multibillion-dollar snack food and beverage industry that has been listed on the Forbes list of “200 Best Small Companies” seven times. The company’s brands include Superpretzel, Icee, Luigi’s, Dippin’ Dots and Minute Maid.
The state of New Jersey also has showed confidence in the endeavor.
In 2021, the New Jersey Legislature approved $75 million in funding to help support the construction of the school’s primary academic and clinical facilities. The 108,000-square-foot building will include academic classrooms, educational and diagnostic laboratories, a teaching hospital and administrative and faculty offices.
Gov. Phil Murphy, on hand at the ceremony, said he is happy to support the program.
“New Jersey is home to some of the top medical care programs in the world,” he said. “Our commitment to training world-class health care providers in all areas of the medical community will continue with the creation of our state’s first veterinary school.
“Rowan will be one of the only universities in the country to offer Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Doctor of Medicine, and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degrees. Combined with its terrific nursing program, Rowan University graduates will soon be providing medical care to every member of a family living in New Jersey.”