Students criticize largest donation made in SHU history
Patrick Murray, chair of the Board of Regents and a Seton Hall alum, along with his wife, Mary Ann Pfaff Murray, have made a $5 million donation to Seton Hall University, the largest single donation in university history.
The Murrays’ donation will be used to establish merit and needbased scholarships for students, to fund a faculty chair in the Stillman School of Business and to fund renovations to athletic facilities.
“We are particularly grateful for the gifts that come from alumni, as these gifts represent for many a
way to ‘pay it forward’ from the support that they received when they were students,” David Bohan, vice president for University Advancement, wrote in an email.
Some students say that they are grateful for the donation that the Murrays have made to the university, but they are disappointed that a portion of the funds will be used to renovate athletic facilities.
Angelo Piro, a senior international relations and economics major, started the petition ‘Seton Hall: Invest in Students not Sports.’
“While the Seton Hall community is thankful for the Murrays’ generosity, we ask that the administration invest in what makes SHU truly great, its students,” the petition stated. “Instead of investing more money in the athletic facilities and programs, Seton Hall should work to improve student services and facilities.”
As of noon on April 13, the petition had 229 signatures, nearly half of its goal of 500. “I started the petition because, as a senior, I’ve seen where Seton Hall has chosen to put their emphasis,” Piro wrote in an email. “They have done some great things since I’ve been here, like the work on Aquinas and supporting the new centers at the School of Diplomacy, but a lot of work has gone to building up our athletic programs.”
Piro said that the school needs “a shift of priorities.”
Breanna O’Neal, a sophomore psychology major, stated that she signed the petition because the university “tends to take advantage of the students complacency.”
“We have a brand new rec center,” O’Neal said. “The baseball and softball fields look immaculate. The basketball team is always sporting the newest stuff. If you look at the rest of the campus and then look at what benefits the athletes, there’s such a disjunction that it’s incredible.”
“I hope the outcome (of the petition) is that the administration recognizes what the students want: better services, facilities and funds for all students,” Piro said. “The current plan for the Murrays’ donation has some great ideas, including new scholarships and a new faculty chair, but spending even more money on the athletic program should be left out as the benefit isn’t felt by everyone.”
“Mr. Murray sets a great example for us all through his most generous gift to the University,” Bohan said in response to the petition. “He has chosen to support areas on campus for which he has a particular passion, and serve to fund critical areas of need, including his key support of scholarships for students and resources for faculty. The portion of his gift supporting athletics has helped make possible the Department’s annual Leadership Forum, which is designed to give student-athletes an opportunity to network with distinguished professionals and have career-oriented discussions. His gift will have long-lasting impact across campus. I just hope that the petition does not dissuade others from providing much needed philanthropic support of the university.”
“I realize that the Murrays can choose where their donations go and this is likely unable to change, but the administration should know where the student, alumni and friends of SHU want the University to go,” Piro said.
Bohan said that Seton Hall is expected to receive about $20 million in monetary donations from donors this fiscal year, ranging from gifts of $50 or $100 to larger gifts like the $5 million donation from Mr. and Mrs. Murray.
He also stated that over half of the donations that the university has received this year have gone to student financial aid and scholarships.
Ashley Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.