Barbara Meyers Pelson ’59 will help ensure that future students and faculty have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of collaborative, sophisticated research opportunities through the establishment of The Barbara Meyers Pelson ’59 Chair in Faculty-Student Engagement. Her $1 million gift has funded TCNJ’s first endowed chair, and it is unique in the way that it supports faculty-student research collaborations.
In 1955, Pelson came as a freshman to what was known then as New Jersey State Teachers College at Trenton to study education and music. She found great friends and instructors in “a warm and caring environment.” After many years in which she taught school, raised her family with her husband and moved where his work took them, they returned to New Jersey.
In the ’90s, Pelson reconnected to her school, which felt as welcoming as the one she had left, and was thrilled when she was invited by then-President Harold Eickhoff to serve on the College’s Foundation Board. “I am grateful to Dr. Eickhoff in that I have great respect for his vision for the College,“ Pelson says. In 1997, the governor appointed her to the College’s Board of Trustees, where she served through 2013. She now has returned to the Foundation Board. Having worked with two presidents and many faculty and students over the years, Pelson says she admires the values within the institution that create its excellence.
“I came to understand the commitment, the dedication, the pride in the College. It was very contagious. It comes down to what we have here: an extraordinary faculty and outstanding students,” Pelson says. “I have the highest regard for President Gitenstein’s leadership. The College is recognized nationally—that’s quite an accomplishment. I am confident that the College will continue to be exemplary.”
Pelson’s only regret about the gift is that her late husband, Victor, is not here to share these moments with her, as they talked together at great length about giving to the College. “Both my husband and I grew up in Irvington, N.J. We both felt very indebted to public education. I chose my school because of its reputation as a great teaching college, its beautiful campus and its affordability.”
She would like to acknowledge that it was through her husband’s success at Western Electric and AT&T that she is able to give this gift. “It’s an important part of my story,” she says.
“It’s a legacy that I would hope other alums would think about in whatever way they can,” she says. “The intent is about the feeling between the student and the professor. Some people talk about giving back—but I feel that I’m giving a gift that goes onward.”