Rider announces major gift by alumnus, naming of academic building in honor of his parents

Barry ’76 and Gail Bierenbaum's unrestricted gift will be used to support University's highest priorities
Diane Cornell

On May 16, Rider University announced a major gift from Barry ’76 and Gail Bierenbaum to the University and the naming of Bierenbaum Fisher Hall in honor of the couple’s deceased parents, Helen and Samuel Bierenbaum and Alfreda and Roy Fisher.

"Our parents would be very proud and humbled to receive this honor,” Barry says. “As members of The Greatest Generation, they did a phenomenal job raising and educating their children with very limited resources. The fact that their names will be forever associated with higher education could not be more appropriate. This dedication will be a lasting memorial to their love and the nurturing environment that they provided for all of their children." A well-timed phone call during Rider's annual fundraising phonathon led to the gift from the Atlanta-based alumnus.

When student Hunter Izzo called Barry Bierenbaum, he was surprised to be told that, although Bierenbaum was currently busy driving to the airport, he wanted to be called back because he definitely wanted to make a generous gift. Hunter, an organizational psychology major who was a first-year student at the time and had only been a phonathon caller for a few weeks, quickly alerted University Advancement staff, and the result was, indeed, significant.

The Bierenbaums designated that most of their gift will be unrestricted, giving the University flexibility to apply the funds to endowment, scholarships and capital projects. In addition, funds will be used to endow scholarships and programming for the University’s Women’s Leadership Council, which has been renamed the Gail Bierenbaum Women’s Leadership Council. The Council is dedicated to developing the next generation of Rider women leaders.

In fact, Barry chose to surprise Gail with the naming of the Gail Bierenbaum Women’s Leadership Council, and their daughter Kate shared moving remarks about her mother at the event. Gail and Barry have been business partners for almost 20 years, and Barry credits both his Rider education and his business partnership with Gail for their family’s success.

“This is a fitting tribute to Gail’s acumen as a business leader," Barry says. "She is a strong relationship builder, a dedicated customer service provider and an incredibly hard worker. She has been an invaluable partner and our company would not be as successful without her dedication, insight and leadership. Both our company — and our family — have flourished under her direction.”

After graduating from Rider with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce with a major in marketing, Barry joined Mobil Oil as a sales manager. The recruiting manager at the company was also a Rider alumnus, and Barry credits this Rider connection for the successful launch of his career.

He went on to spend 16 years working in senior management for the energy giant, leaving to become a partner at a wholesale oil distribution company. After one of his partners passed away, he sold his interest in that company and he and his wife launched Mountain Express Oil, a fuel wholesale distribution business that has grown and expanded into real estate holdings, convenience stores and quick-serve restaurants.

Their Acworth, Georgia-based company provides petroleum products to the gas stations it owns and as well as to third-party locations, soon to number more than 400, in seven states. The company also positions individual convenience stores that can be acquired and operated by third-party dealers.

In addition, Barry is a member of Exxon/Mobil's wholesale advisory council and has served in the past on Chevron, Texaco and Marathon wholesale advisory councils.

“We are immensely grateful to the Bierenbaums for helping us to advance the University’s mission,” says Gregory Dell’Omo, president of Rider University. “I’m proud of Barry and Gail’s tremendous success and thankful that they have decided to generously share their resources with Rider. I know our students, faculty and staff greatly appreciate this gift, which will, in part, ensure that the excellent work being done by our Rider Women’s Leadership Council continues, something that I know is personally important to them and their family.”

The Bierenbaums’ gift is among several that have recently been announced by the University. Last October, Rider announced one of the largest individual gifts ever received by the University, from Board of Trustee member Tom Lynch ’75. At the ceremony, Lynch surprised his childhood friend and fellow alumnus Joseph Adler ’75, ’90 by revealing that Lynch Adler Hall would carry both their names.