Skip to main content

Kean University

Kean Celebrates Founders Day with Gratitude and Fellowship

Kean University students, alumni, friends and employees celebrated the University’s Founders Day with record-breaking gifts that will support the next generation of students at the state’s urban research university.

Kean Cougars showed their pride and support for student scholarships and other University initiatives across the two-day event, which included the Founders Day 5K run on Sunday, April 14, and gatherings at the Union and Toms River campuses on Monday, April 15.

Video: Kean students and President Repollet thank donors

“Founders Day celebrates our proud history and traditions. It’s a wonderful way for us to connect our story with philanthropy and giving,” Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., said. “I’m personally grateful to all those who contributed from across the country. Their generosity will help our students climb higher for years to come.”

The Kean University Foundation, the nonprofit organization that raises funds to support Kean’s students, faculty, programs and facilities, hosts Founders Day to mark the anniversary of Kean’s founding on April 14, 1855.

Begun as the Newark Normal School, Kean started as a teacher-training school and the first public post-secondary institution in New Jersey. Kean grew to become a global University with more than 17,000 students worldwide, at campuses in Union, Toms River and Wenzhou, China. 

“Kean was my first choice, I was so happy I got accepted,” said Ramisha Bhatti of Carteret, a junior biology major, who attended a Founders Day celebration and made a donation. “Kean is already the best. This helps it get even better.”

Many students wrote hand-written thank you notes to donors during the event. Foundation officials collected the notes in a box at the campus celebration.

“Because of you, students are able to continue their education,” one student wrote.

“This university is an amazing place filled with great people!” added a second.

Kean Foundation Chief Executive Officer William Miller said the generosity of the Kean community “continues to inspire and amaze us all.” He said Kean’s annual day of giving has grown dramatically. 

 “Yesterday, our Cougar community again rallied behind the Kean University Foundation to support our students and we witnessed a record-breaking year for Founders Day. I’m deeply grateful for the outpouring of support that will directly impact our students,” Miller said. “Founders Day is a true team effort, and together, the collective giving of our Cougar community makes an immediate and significant difference across Kean."

Kean University Chief Advancement Officer Matt Caruso ’99 said Founders Day connects Kean students to the spirit of giving. He said the “word is also getting out” about Kean – its growth, new programs, focus on research, and more.

“There is a pride growing among alumni that is spreading,” Caruso said, adding that many alumni are taking advantage of opportunities to continue their involvement in the Kean community. “They realize their chapter at Kean might not be fully written yet. They can come back and teach, mentor a student, serve on an advisory board or become involved in the Alumni Association.”  

Some Founders Day donors gave to Kean to honor an alumnus. One of them was Lori Riccio of Howell. Her family foundation, Riccio Pick-Me-Ups, made a gift in honor of the late Kean graduate Brett Christian Coleman ’18, of Jackson, requesting it be directed to the Kean Wellness Center. Coleman, a close friend of Riccio’s daughter, died in February after facing many medical challenges.  

“He and my daughter met at Kean. He was a supporter of our charity, and a great person,” Riccio said. “I just wanted to keep Brett’s name alive. He will continue to help others as he lived his daily life.”