“Our goal was to have an admissions center here where the students can come and feel the real beauty of Stevens – the views of New York City and the feeling of standing on top of the world here at Castle Point, as well as the history and charm of the university – to help them decide whether to make Stevens part of their journey in life.”
That was the explanation given by Kevin Ruesterholz ’83 as to why he and his wife, Virginia, gave $1.3 million to the university to convert the historic Colonial House campus building at Stevens Institute of Technology into a modern, state-of-the-art facility that will directly support the university’s planned growth of the student population.
To recognize and thank Virginia and Kevin Ruesterholz for their generous support of Stevens, a dedication of the new Ruesterholz Admissions Center was held October 29, 2014.
Virginia Ruesterholz, a longtime executive at Verizon and a 1983 graduate of Stevens, became the first woman to ever hold the position of chairman of the Stevens Board of Trustees in May 2013. A member of the board since 2007, her contributions to Stevens are vast – from serving as chair of the advisory board of the School of Systems & Enterprises to championing a K-12 engineering education initiative at Stevens supported by the Verizon Foundation. She is also widely renowned for her 30-year career at Verizon, where she retired in 2012 as executive vice president and president of Verizon Services Operations.
Kevin Ruesterholz, also a 1983 Stevens graduate, is an attorney-at-law and head of Ruesterholz Law LLC in Morristown, New Jersey. He has more than 25 years of corporate experience with AT&T and Lucent Technologies in international business development, contract negotiations, partnership development and business management. With Virginia, Kevin served as co-chair of the Edwin A. Stevens Society, the university’s leadership society for annual giving, and also established a scholarship fund for Stevens’ engineering management students.
The couple met as undergraduates here at Castle Point, and through their active involvement with Stevens and generous commitment of their time and leadership, the university has thrived. Their unwavering support has been instrumental to Stevens’ rise from a predominantly engineering institution to a truly multi-faceted innovation university. So it is fitting that an important landmark at Stevens now bears their name.
The dedication began with a ribbon cutting ceremony with Virginia and Kevin performing the honors, in the company of their daughter Katie, Stevens President Nariman Farvardin and Lawrence T. Babbio, chairman emeritus of the Stevens Board of Trustees.
Following a cocktail reception and tours of the building, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and special guests gathered outside of the new admissions center for an elegant dinner, which was accompanied by jazz classics performed by the Stevens Jazz Trio.
Serving as emcee for the evening, Babbio noted the progress made by the university under President Farvardin's leadership in acquiring “top-notch faculty” and increasing the size and selectivity of incoming students.
He said the new admissions center will continue to build on that momentum by helping to create a strong first impression to prospective students.
“Kevin and Virginia have made an outstanding contribution to the admissions process,” said Babbio, who then turned to Virginia and Kevin to say, "This is something that I cannot personally thank you enough for on behalf of this campus. I'm sure everyone here feels the same way."
Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Marybeth Murphy acknowledged the individuals directly involved with the design and planning of the Ruesterholz Admissions Center – architects, engineers, graphic designers, contractors, as well as Stevens’ vice president of facilities and campus operations Robert Maffia and his staff, John Lanza and Julia Horner. But ultimately, Murphy said, "this special night belongs to Virginia and Kevin. Their generous support greatly enhances how staff members interact with students. We are privileged to use this center every day."
In addition to honoring Kevin and Virginia Ruesterholz, the dedication recognized the major gift of Stevens trustee and alumna Annmarie Rizzo '86. Her generous support made possible the newly-constructed reception/waiting area of the Ruesterholz Admissions Center.
Rizzo, who is also a Verizon colleague of Virginia’s, described Virginia as a role model and true friend. Wanting her gift to be part of her friend's legacy, she said, "I cannot be prouder to be part of this university and part of this brand."
Offering a student perspective was Shane Arlington, a fourth year student pursuing a dual degree in chemical engineering and science and technology studies. Sharing his own memory of his first visit to Stevens, the Arizona native spoke about how that experience inspired him to become a tour guide for prospective students. “Sharing the campus as a tour guide has been one of the most impactful experiences I've had at Stevens," he said, adding that the new center vastly improves that process in terms of functionality and aesthetics, helping to give the admissions department a distinct look and feel that was lacking in its former location.
In his remarks, President Farvardin compared the building to fine wine, saying it gets better with age. The idea to convert Colonial House into an admissions center formed, he said, when he was newly-arrived on campus.
Situated near Hoxie House, the residence of Stevens presidents, Colonial House offers one of the most expansive views of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline. President Farvardin brought up the idea to turn the historic building into the first destination for future students during a brief conversation he had with Kevin Ruesterholz, who had expressed a desire to make a substantial donation to Stevens.
According to President Farvardin, the historic beauty of the building serves as a reminder of Stevens’ past while its transformation signifies a promise of what the future holds. He added that the new admissions center is an important ingredient in a strategic plan to expand and grow the university. Raising a glass of champagne, he made a toast to Virginia and Kevin, thanking them for their extraordinary generosity.
Afterward, President Farvardin and Chairman Babbio presented the couple with a watercolor painting of the Ruesterholz Admissions Center.
When asked to explain why she and her husband do so much for Stevens, from her time as a trustee to her family’s support as major donors, Virginia’s response was simple.
“I would say that the word we would use is love. We love this place. It’s given us so much and we want to give back and we want others to have the journey we had,” she said.
Her husband Kevin added that Stevens has been the “nexus” for everything in their life together.
“We graduated from here. I was lucky enough to meet my best friend and my partner for life here. So to come back here some 30 years later and be able to give back to Stevens makes us very happy and very proud to be able to do that."
Top left photo: (from left to right): Katie Ruesterholz, Kevin Ruesterholz, Virginia Ruesterholz, Stevens President Nariman Farvardin and Lawrence T. Babbio, chairman emeritus of the Stevens Board of Trustees, take part in a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Second right photo: An elegant dinner was prepared for faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and special guests to celebrate the new admissions center.
Third left photo: Stevens President Nariman Farvardin and Lawrence T. Babbio, chairman emeritus of the Stevens Board of Trustees, present Virginia and Kevin Ruesterholz with a watercolor painting of the new Ruesterholz Admissions Center.
Bottom right photo: Virginia and Kevin Ruesterholz and their daughter Katie stand in front of the new Ruesterholz Admissions Center.