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There is no telling where the next Einstein will come from. The best you can do, says Jerry Kukor, dean of the Graduate School–New Brunswick, is plant the seed by funding graduate students in every discipline. “Bring the brilliance in, nurture and develop it at Rutgers, and then you will find out where the flowers are going to bloom,” he says.

Graduate students come to Rutgers to work with faculty members who are established researchers in their areas of interest. While under expert guidance, these students make critical analyses and new discoveries of their own. Their role in advancing faculty research—and raising Rutgers’ profile—is critical, so it is in the university’s best interest to attract top candidates. To do that, Rutgers needs to offer competitive fellowship packages. With state funding in a decline, the need for donor support is more important than ever.

Kukor has thus been leading the charge to raise money for fellowships at the graduate school. He hopes his recent gift of $25,000 will inspire other donors, and in particular, those with the most profound belief in the value of graduate education: faculty. “The University of Michigan nurtured me,” he says. “Without those doors being opened, my life would have been different; my career would have been different. I realize now that I need to be involved in giving back.”

Originally published in Rutgers alumni magazine. Photography by Nick Romanenko.

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