Gift from Trustee Thomas ’70 and Tina Mulhare establishes a new endowed scholarship and contributes toward the Annual Fund and campus construction
by Diane Cornell
On Nov. 12, the University recognized a $600,000 gift from Thomas ’70 and Tina Mulhare. Their generous, multifaceted contribution addresses the University’s top fundraising priorities, including a new patio, an endowed scholarship and the Annual Fund.
Because of restrictions imposed by the pandemic, for the first time ever, members of the University community were invited to watch an all-virtual ceremony to honor the Mulhares and to dedicate The Thomas ’70 and Tina Mulhare Patio adjacent to Sweigart Hall. Since its construction in the 2019-20 academic year, it has become a relaxing spot on campus to enjoy lunch, study or collaborate with peers.
“We can’t thank the Mulhares enough for making such a thoughtful contribution that will have a significant impact on our students in so many different ways,” says Rider University President Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D. “The new patio is just one example. The pandemic has made it necessary to spend more time outdoors than usual, and this beautiful patio is a peaceful spot that has added to our students’ physical and mental well-being during what can be a stressful time for us all.”
Of the Mulhares’ $600,000 donation, $185,000 will offset costs associated with the construction of the patio, $100,000 will be used to establish an endowed scholarship for students of any major with financial need and $215,000 will go to the University’s Annual Fund — a critical resource for Rider as it absorbs the expenses directly attributable to COVID-19. In addition, a $100,000 planned gift, when realized, will be added to The Thomas and Tina Mulhare Endowed Scholarship.
Mulhare, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, has a 42-year history of giving to Rider, and together, the couple has supported scholarships and programs for Westminster Choir College and the expansion of the Student Recreation Center.
The son of Irish immigrants, Mulhare says his father didn’t finish high school but his parents placed a high value on education for both their son and Mulhare’s older sister.
Growing up, the family lived on an estate in Far Hills, N.J., where Mulhare’s father was the estate’s caretaker, and he recalls a very simple, rural existence. “In the winter, there was no one within a mile of my house,” he says. Today, the couple lives in the same town where Mulhare grew up, near his childhood home.
In high school, Mulhare took an aptitude test that said he was best suited for being either an accountant or a park ranger. He enjoyed math, so the decision was easy, but what he enjoyed most was running — cross country and track.
When the time for college came he enrolled at Upsala College. But the urban setting, coupled with leg injuries he sustained while participating in the school’s track program cooled his desire to stay, and by the end of his first year he had made the decision to transfer to Rider.
“Running was still very important to me,” Mulhare says. “When I got to Rider, the first week the coach said that the team would be doing six to eight miles a day, plus other training. Cross country in high school was two-and-a-half miles; at the collegiate level it was six miles. After a week of training at Rider, I remember thinking, ‘I can either run or I can graduate.’ But it was pretty clear that I was not going to be able to do both.”
He refocused his efforts on his studies, but the experience of juggling the two worlds of athletics and academics left their impression. “If you are doing athletics or you have a job in addition to studying or if you are volunteering, as so many people do now, my hat is off to you,” Mulhare says. “Because I had one job at Rider, which was taking classes and studying, that was all I could focus on. I really appreciate those students who have the discipline to do more than just classroom work.”
After graduation, he began his career at Arthur Anderson, at the time one of the Big 8 accounting firms. The head of human resources in the company’s New York office was a Rider graduate and the connection helped him get through the early stages of his job. Simultaneously, he joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves and served for seven years. Ultimately, Mulhare stayed with the firm for 32 years, eventually making partner.
He then moved on, first as a director with National Atlantic, then as a partner in EisnerAmper LLP. In 2012, he became a managing director of the professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal, before he retired in 2015.
“As I went along in my career, I appreciated what I had learned,” he says. “I have been given some great opportunities and I can trace a lot of them back to Rider. I want other people to have those opportunities like Tina and I had.” Though not a Rider graduate, Tina Mulhare attained her undergraduate degree at Albertus Magnus College and an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“Giving back is not only investing in your diploma, it is paying back for what you got. I found that I got a lot more than what I paid into it back then,” says Mulhare.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Rider continues to receive strong support from its donors. Construction, scholarship support and contributions to the Annual Fund remain the University’s top fundraising priorities. In September, the University received its 14th million-dollar gift, which was used to support the recently completed renovation and future maintenance of Ridge House, now known as Longstreet House, one of the University’s student residence buildings.