As the only child of a single mother who worked minimum-wage jobs, Jim Dougherty RC’74, GSNB’75 attended Rutgers with the help of grants and scholarships. After completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology and animal sciences, respectively, Dougherty went on to attend veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania, and, in time, became a successful veterinarian and businessman.
Grateful for his Rutgers education and proud of his alma mater, Dougherty regularly contributed to Rutgers through annual gifts; however, it was not until several years after his graduation—while cleaning out his mother’s house following her death—that he came across an item that forever changed the way he viewed alumni support. “I stumbled upon an old box from Rutgers filled with scholarship award letters and notifications of financial aid. I was reminded of my entirely free college education,” he says. “In that moment, I realized I had to pay it all back, with interest, with inflation.” From that day forward, Dougherty became focused about his giving—opting to donate specifically to scholarships and student support. “That money would benefit countless Rutgers students who, like me as an undergraduate, rely on this assistance to attend college.” Dougherty ultimately created an endowed scholarship, which allows the principal of his gift to remain intact while generating interest to fund new scholarships every year.
As Dougherty’s philanthropic relationship with Rutgers progressed, he realized that he could ultimately make the greatest and most lasting impact through a planned gift—specifically, he realized that a bequest would enable him to continue his current giving levels while providing generously for Rutgers in the future.
Dougherty, now a member of Rutgers’ Board of Overseers and Board of Trustees, has already had the pleasure of meeting some of the 20 plus students his endowed scholarship has benefitted, and remains committed to easing the burden for students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees. “With scholarships, Rutgers can attract top students, reflect all the diversity of New Jersey, and have an engaged student body. My hope is that these students will become active alumni who will in turn pay it all back like I did—with interest, with inflation.”