Funding Futures

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Alumnus, wife donate more than $1 million for Medical School scholarships.

To the core, Lawrence J. Salva is a numbers guy.

So when Salva, senior vice president, chief accounting officer and controller of Comcast Corporation, heard that the average medical school student graduates with more than $150,000 worth of debt, the Rowan University alumnus decided to make a difference and assist aspiring South Jersey physicians.

Salva, vice chairman of the Rowan University Foundation Board, and his wife, Rita, of Princeton, have pledged $1.055 million to the Foundation to establish the Lawrence & Rita Salva Medical Scholars Fund at Rowan. The single largest gift to date for Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU), the Salvas' pledge also is the largest one-time gift ever made to Rowan by an alumnus.

Their gift will establish a $1 million endowment to benefit students enrolled at CMSRU. The additional $55,000 in contributions—and the earnings on the endowment—will provide $100,000 in scholarships for the medical school's charter class.

"The debt numbers for medical school students are just so compelling," says Salva, who earned his bachelor's degree in business from the University in 1977.

"We're absolutely excited about the medical school and the promise it holds for South Jersey. This scholarship fund gives us a tremendous opportunity to help medical school students pursue their dreams as they work to make a positive impact on the lives of others."

For years, Larry Salva has given back to his alma mater.  A member of the board of the Rowan University Foundation since 2000, he helps oversee and manage a $143 million endowment.

Since 2002, Salva, who served eight years as a member of the alumni association board, has contributed $125,000 to the Salva Family Scholarship Fund. The fund assists students involved in WGLS-FM, the campus radio station, as well as students in the radio/television/film program.

While a student at the University, Salva was the business manager for WGLS-FM and is a member of the station's Hall of Fame.

"It's gratifying to see the Salvas give a landmark gift to Rowan, especially since Larry has generously shared his time and talents with the University for years," says Rowan Interim President Dr. Ali Houshmand.

"We're very proud to see donors—especially our alumni—support our University," Houshmand continues. "Their generosity demonstrates to us that they have confidence in us and are invested in the future of Rowan University."

Impact of aid

Larry Salva's story is a prime example of the impact receiving financial aid can have on a student's future success, Houshmand notes.

Salva, who grew up in Clifton, Passaic County, was a first-generation college student who held various jobs—including working at a Wawa convenience store—to earn his degree. He received a Basic Educational Opportunity Grant (known later as a Pell Grant), which was given to students with demonstrated financial need.

Through campus involvement and networking, the graduate of Paul VI High School in Clifton earned his degree not only with a near perfect 3.97 GPA, but, also, a tremendous resume. While in college, he worked for the Glassboro-based Petroni & Associates, an accounting firm.

After graduation, Salva's career skyrocketed. He was a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers for a dozen years and also served as a professional accounting fellow with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission's Office of the Chief Accountant.

At Comcast, he is responsible for external financial and management reporting, corporate accounting and corporate internal controls. He joined Comcast in 2000.

"In college, I was fortunate enough to receive federal funding to support my studies. And I was mentored by a lot of good people," says Salva. "I feel an obligation to return the favor and provide support.

"In order to succeed, you need the right chance…the right door to open for you."

Supporting and promoting health care is important to the Salvas. A registered dental hygienist and certified dental assistant, Rita Salva is an adjunct faculty member at both Burlington County College and Middlesex County College. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Thomas Edison State College, she earned her master's degree from Seton Hall University. She has volunteered her time to promote the importance of good oral hygiene to elementary school children and to children with special needs.

Inspiring other gifts

The Salvas' generosity demonstrates their commitment to Rowan—and to South Jersey, according to R.J. Tallarida, Jr., acting executive director of the Rowan University Foundation and assistant vice president for development.

"The Salvas' gift truly is transformative and will have a lasting impact on Rowan University, our new medical school and the entire region," Tallarida says. "Larry's leadership on our board has been vital to the Foundation's success and its ability to enhance the opportunities available to Rowan's students."

Just months after the formation of CMSRU was announced in 2009, alumnus Dr. Marque Allen and his wife, Yvette, made the first gift to the medical school when they pledged $100,000 for student scholarships. Since then, CMSRU has received a generous contribution from Haddonfield physician Dr. Michael Renzi and his family and a $300,000 gift from Dr. Ludwig Schlitt and his children—Drs. Michael, Stephanie, and Mark—of Advocare Pediatric Group in Haddon Heights.

"Cooper Medical School of Rowan University is a vitally important initiative for the region," Salva says. "We hope that our gift will inspire others to give to Rowan at an exciting time in the University's history."

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