Edelmans pledge $10 million to support communication, creative arts students

Edelmans pledge $10 million to support communication, creative arts students


With every initiative they support, every gift they give, Ric and Jean Edelman have a singular goal: to make a positive, measurable impact on the lives of others.

That goal certainly will be achieved through their $10 million gift to provide scholarships to Rowan University students in the College of Communication & Creative Arts.

The Edelmans, founders of Edelman Financial Engines, the nation’s largest independent financial planning and investment management firm, announced the gift during a ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 14.

The largest single endowed gift to Rowan University dedicated solely to student scholarships, the donation will support both merit and need-based academic scholarships for students pursuing careers in the fields of communication and creative arts.

Students selected as Edelman Scholars will be eligible for funding from the new Edelman Professional Development Fund. The stipend would be used for conference travel, workshops and other professional development opportunities.

Scholarships will be primarily awarded to freshmen, but also will be available to returning undergraduates and transfer students.

Focused on student success

The gift will help CCCA, a rapidly growing college, attract more top-notch students seeking communication careers. The college, which boasts more than 1,900 students, has experienced a 133 percent freshman enrollment increase in the past three years.

“We couldn’t be more pleased that Ric and Jean have decided to support our College of Communication & Creative Arts with their gift, which is 100 percent focused on student success,” says Rowan President Ali A. Houshmand. “The Edelmans understand how difficult it is for students to pay for college and their endowment speaks volumes about their commitment to providing opportunities to students, based both on merit and need.”

Since 2002, the Edelmans, both alumni, have pledged more than $36 million to the University through the Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University and the Ric and Jean Edelman Planetarium.

Their $25 million gift for the fossil park in 2016 was the largest gift ever to Rowan from alumni and the second largest gift in University history.

Supporting creative endeavors

Their gift to CCCA will help talented, driven students as they pursue careers in writing, art, radio/television/film, public relations, sports communication and related disciplines.

“Creativity and communication matter,” says Ric, who earned his bachelor’s degree in communications in 1980 from then-Glassboro State College. “We want to help students pursue these disciplines, and help provide them the tools they need to succeed.”

Jean, who earned her bachelor’s degree in consumer economics and marketing in 1981 and now serves on the University Board of Trustees, adds, “Our experience at Rowan gave us the foundation to succeed in our career. We are grateful and want to help today’s students have the same opportunity for success.”

About the Edelmans

In 1986, the couple founded Edelman Financial Engines at the kitchen table of their one-bedroom basement apartment. The firm is now the largest independent advisory firm in the nation, serving 1.2 million clients from more than 170 offices coast to coast, and manages more than $213 billion in client assets. The firm also is ranked #1 for quality by Barron’s and has won more than 100 financial, business community and philanthropic awards in its 33-year history.

“I tell people that we’re not only a financial advising firm. We’re a communication firm. We have succeeded because we’ve made the complicated subject of personal finance easy to understand and accessible to everyone,” says Jean.

A #1 New York Times bestselling author of 10 books on personal finance, Ric hosts the country’s longest running radio show on personal finance.  He’s also hosted a series for Public Television and five specials.

Ric was named the #1 Independent Financial Advisor in the Nation three times by Barron’s and is in the publication’s Hall of Fame. Widely regarded as among the most influential financial planners in the nation, Ric was named by InvestmentNews one of 20 planners in the nation who shaped the planning profession.

Last fall, Ric and Jean published The Squirrel Manifesto, their first children’s book. Written for 4- to- 8-year-olds, the book teaches children to “spend a little, save a little and always give back.” Jean also is the author of The Other Side of Money: Living a More Balanced Life Through 52 Weekly Inspirations.

The Edelmans’ support of Rowan is vast. Ric serves on the CCCA advisory board and was the keynote speaker at Rowan’s 1999 Commencement ceremony, where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. He was inducted into the Rowan University Public Relations Student Society of America Hall of Fame in 2007.

Jean, who was the University’s first female Student Government Association president, chairs the Board of Trustees’ Academic Affairs/Student Affairs Committee and serves on the Executive Committee and Nominations Committee. She is co-chair of Rising: The Campaign for Rowan University, the University’s most ambitious and comprehensive campaign to date to sustain the institution’s growth, success and impact. Jean was the speaker for the University’s graduate school Commencement in 2013.

Opening doors

The $10 million endowment to CCCA will assist students who have the talent and drive to succeed, but who lack the resources to pay for college. While the Edelmans have made many gifts to the University, this is the first to provide funding directly to students, Jean notes.

“We want to help students get the most from their college experience,” she says.

The fact that the Edelman Professional Development Fund provides funds for students to travel to professional conferences to present their research and network with students around the country who share their passions is unique—and invaluable, notes CCCA Dean Sanford Tweedie.

“It’s important for our students to have opportunities outside of class,” Tweedie says. “It helps them to gain a better understanding of the profession they have chosen and helps us increase the visibility of our college.”