Friday, Sep 24, 2021
The Dr. Eugene Marsh Center for Veterans and Military Affairs would become the first space at the University to be named for a Black alumnus
by Diane Cornell
Rider University is nearly three-quarters of the way toward its $100,000 fundraising goal to renovate and rename the campus’ veterans affairs office for Dr. Eugene Marsh ’13, ’18, ’21, a distinguished alumnus and veteran who died in January from complications of COVID-19.
If successful, The Dr. Eugene Marsh Center for Veterans and Military Affairs would become the first space at the University to be named for a Black alumnus.
Rider hopes to reach its goal before Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, in order to dedicate the space on Nov. 6 during the University’s Homecoming. To date the initiative has raised $70,725.
Marsh’s life was one of triumph and tribulation. He was raised in South Carolina by a loving, illiterate foster mother in an era of segregation and he says he singlehandedly integrated his local high school.
After serving a distinguished tour of duty in the Vietnam War, he later overcame joblessness and homelessness to establish his own construction company, helping restore the Statue of Liberty and earning an invitation to the White House. Nearing his 70s, he earned his master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling at Rider.
At the time of his death, he was 71 and working on his doctoral dissertation in educational leadership. As news of his death spread, he received tributes from New Jersey’s governor, Phil Murphy, and the PBS Newshour. Rider’s Board of Trustees awarded his doctorate posthumously in May.
Marsh was known for his passion about using his education as a means to help other people and was particularly focused on mentoring and counseling veterans and Black people. For his dissertation, he was researching how student-veterans could be better supported in making informed decisions about their major of study and career goals at the outset of their education.
The proposed Dr. Eugene Marsh Center for Veterans and Military Affairs will encompass both the Rider University Veterans Association Lounge as well as the coordinator’s office. As a veteran, Marsh spent a significant amount of time in Rider’s current Veterans Association Lounge and with the coordinator.
The veteran’s office provides resources and respite for all military-connected students. The staff assists military-connected students with all things unique to their circumstances such as applying for educational benefits for veterans, military and dependents; navigating the complexities of the various VA programs; and guiding them through their Rider journey. Events and activities are also hosted to promote a healthy, vibrant and integrated military community.
Amounts raised in excess of the $100,000 goal will be allocated toward the Dr. Eugene Marsh Endowed Scholarship, which will be provided to veteran and military-connected students at Rider with financial need. Similarly, if the $100,000 fundraising effort, which is scheduled to conclude Nov. 1, falls short of its goal, all contributions will be allocated instead toward the Scholarship.
Gifts can be made to The Dr. Eugene Marsh Memorial Fund by visiting rider.edu/eugenememorial. For more information contact Associate Director of Advancement Andrea Neale Jarvis at [email protected] or call 609-896-5219.