Alumni give $1 million for Rowan planetarium

Alumni give $1 million for Rowan planetarium

By GENE VERNACCHIO, Courier-Post Staff

GLASSBORO--After graduating from Rowan University in the early 1980s, Frederick "Ric" Edelman and Jean McMenamin Edelman reached for the stars.

They returned to the campus Wednesday to help bring the stars a little closer to future Rowan students.

The couple, who have built one of the most successful financial planning businesses in the nation, are donating $ 1 million to the school for a planetarium, which will be in a $45 million science building now under construction.

It's the largest single gift from any undergraduate alumni in the school's history.

"Ric and I have been a small part of this school, and we' re very excited to be a big part of the university and the science building," said McMenamin Edelman. "This is just the best thing that we could do."

Rowan's trustees voted Wednesday to name the planetarium the Frederick and Jean Edelman Planetarium.

"Today is not an honor for me, it's a privilege," said Edelman, a 1976 Cherry Hill High School East graduate. "It is astounding to us that we're able to make this gift.

"We also have a sense of obligation. Jean and I can both tie everything that we have today and everything that we do today directly to our career and our experience at what was Glassboro State College."

In an unusual move, the couple has asked that the planetarium not bear their names forever.

At their insistence, Rowan eventually will change the name to honor a faculty member or someone closely aligned with the school and deserving of recognition.

"At some point, there will be a member of the faculty or administration whose accomplishments will so shine that they will be deserving of the recognition that comes with the naming of the structure in their honor," Edelman said. " We look forward to that day."

Edelman, who manages nearly $2 billion in assets for 5, 000 clients, said the decision to donate to a planetarium comes partly from his astronomy hobby and desire to promote science education.

Edelman, a 1980 graduate, and McMenamin Edelman, a 1981 graduate, founded The Edelman Financial Center Inc. in 1987. The company of financial, investment, insurance and accounting professionals is based in Fairfax, Va.

He has written the best-seller books The Truth About Money and Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth. He has taught personal finance at Georgetown University and hosted two weekly radio and TV shows, and writes a syndicated news column and publishes a monthly newsletter.

Edelman also served as keynote speaker at Rowan's 1999 commencement ceremony, where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. In 1994 he and his spouse both received the Distiguished Alumnus Award.

McMenamin Edelman currently serves as president of Edelman Business Services. While at Rowan, she was the first female president of the university's Student Government Association.

The new, three-story state-of-the-art science also will feature a greenhouse and observation deck that will include a 16-inch telescope. The telescope will feed live celestial images to the planetarium's screen as well as to an Internet site.

The planetarium as well as the rest of the new science building is slated to open in January 2003.

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Date Published: Thursday, April 11, 2002 - 10:51
Source URL: Courier-Post