Rowan's Tom Gallia continues legacy at University

Rowan's Tom Gallia continues legacy at University


When Dr. Thomas Gallia sits in the audience at Rowan University’s commencement ceremonies on Friday, it will be the first time in decades he does so as a guest.

Gallia officially ended his more than 50-year tenure at Rowan University in January. But “official” for Gallia has little meaning. In reality, he will remain on the campus in spirit for years to come, thanks to a $100,000-plus endowment he established to support the Thomas J. Gallia Endowed Scholarship for Community Service.

Long ties

Gallia has long and strong ties to the University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biological and physical sciences with a minor in science education in 1966 and two master’s degrees in science education and in school supervision and educational administration in 1967 and 1970, respectively. After briefly teaching at Glassboro High School, the Vineland native joined the Rowan faculty in 1970. He was a professor of education in the departments of Teacher Education and Educational Leadership, and he served as academic department chairman and executive associate dean. He retired as vice president for University Relations and the president’s chief of staff.

“Glassboro has been my home. It’s been a great deal of my life for 50 years,” Gallia said.

His scholarship reflects that. He has designated it for students who are residents of Glassboro and are committed to community service. He expects the inaugural scholarship in the range of $3,000 to be awarded to a freshman for the 2014-15 academic year.

“This is to help students who freely give to public service,” he said. “Community service makes for a well-rounded student and a well-rounded citizen.”

For the former VP, the endowment is about more than just helping one student a year meet expenses.

Serving as model

“I want it to be a model for other faculty and staff, and for members of the community, to create scholarships for things they value,” said Gallia, who lived in Glassboro as a student and young newlywed and who returned to live there with his wife, Donna, in 2004.

Giving back to his community always has been a priority for Gallia. As he was growing up, his parents set an example as dedicated community volunteers—his father belonged to 20 civic groups, and his mother was a member of the Newcomb Hospital Auxiliary in Vineland for more than 60 years. He also sees examples of community service in his children and grandchildren—his son volunteers for the March of Dimes, and his eldest granddaughter recently applied to become a volunteer firefighter in Landisville.

“It’s something we try to instill in the family. They need to provide service to the communities where they live,” Gallia said.

Gallia himself has been involved in alumni activities at Rowan, and he was part of his class’ 40th anniversary reunion committee.

He is or has been vice chair of Main Street Glassboro and a member of the Rowan Boulevard Planning Committee, Central Business Redevelopment Authority, Mayor’s Economic Advisory Committee, Glassboro Code Enforcement Authority, Town-Gown Relations Committee, Glassboro Rail and Transportation Center Committee and Glassboro Public Schools Special Initiatives. A member of St. Bridget Church, he serves as an usher, is on the parish Finance Committee and was a member of the Bishop’s Task Force and Transition Team as the church became a university parish. He currently serves as an executive board member of St. Anthony’s Mutual Aid Society and a trustee of the Southern New Jersey Development Council. He has been a member of the Glassboro Chamber of Commerce, Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce and South Jersey Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as a member of the Kennedy Hospital Board of Trustees and Health Facilities Board.

A loyal donor to the institution throughout his career, Gallia has contributed to a wide range of campus initiatives, including his scholarship fund. This year he gave the final $20,000 that brought his endowment to the $100,000 level—the threshold at which he wanted to start awarding scholarships.

“It wasn’t the final $20,000 payment that made this work,” Gallia noted. “It was continuous giving.”

According to R.J. Tallarida, associate vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the Rowan University Foundation, the institution’s charitable arm, Gallia’s fund has grown to about $110,000 with interest. Gallia said he plans to continue contributing to the endowment.

Dedicated to students

“Tom’s commitment to supporting the University is significant,” Tallarida said. “His investment in scholarships demonstrates his primary dedication to the University’s students and reflects his interest in supporting the University as it continues to provide an exceptional education at an affordable cost. This fund ensures that his contributions will benefit Rowan students for many years to come.”

The recipient of awards from numerous organizations, Gallia was honored with the Glassboro Rotary Community Spirit Award and the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow Award for Community Service in 2011. Rep. Rob Andrews also honored him with Congressional Record Recognition for service in 2011. In 2012, Rowan awarded him the Dr. Harley Flack Outstanding Mentor Award for his many years as a volunteer mentor of college students and young professionals. The Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce named Gallia Business Person of the Year the same year, and Reps. Andrews and Frank LoBiondo presented him with two separate citations honoring him as Business Person of the Year in 2012, as did the Gloucester County Freeholders.