Marge Derrick: Paying It Forward for the Next Generation at Rutgers

Marge Derrick (NCAS ’71) received a letter back in 1975 seeking a donation to Rutgers-Newark. Four years out of school, Derrick was in a position to act: She was married and had a home, a child and security.

“They asked the right person at the right time,” says Derrick. “I thought, ‘Okay, I can do this.’ And it made sense. I’d gotten scholarships from Rutgers-Newark. It was time to start paying it forward.”

She’s been paying it ever since, demonstrating a commitment to her alma mata that has inspired countless alums to get onboard and join the effort.

Her list of appointments is impressive: NCAS Dean’s Cabinet, Rutgers-Newark Alumni Association Executive Committee, Rutgers University Board of Overseers Donor Relations/Stewardship Advisory Committee, Board of Governors Audit Committee. The list goes on. Derrick is also serving a second term on the Rutgers University Board of Trustees, where she serves as Vice Chair.

Yet, it all started with a letter. And a formative experience at Rugters-Newark, where Derrick got her degree in English but had to overcome obstacles to get there.

First semester of her junior year, she contracted a virus that required a six-week hospital stay and left her with a number of physical issues. She re-entered school with a lighter course load, “but I needed a lot of support from a lot of folks to graduate,” says Derrick, a retired credit counselor living in Montclair, N.J.

NCAS Dean Henry Blumenthal and her sorority sisters stepped up, offering advising and friendship when she needed it most.

Fast-forward to 1998. That year, Derrick and her husband, George, created the Derrick Family Award, a $2,500 per year annual scholarship that goes to NCAS undergraduates demonstrating academic merit and financial need. That award, along with the Derrick Family Endowed Scholarship, enable students to pursue internships or focus on their studies or undergraduate research without the distraction of part-time jobs.

During her years with Rutgers, Derrick has seen tremendous growth and likes the direction she sees NCAS, UCN and the university moving, though some formidable challenges lie ahead.

“There are some really impressive people steering the ship at all three campuses. Chancellor Yeagle and Acting Dean Jan Lewis are very focused and understand what needs to be done to grow NCAS and UCN,” says Derrick. “But in this financial climate, with less government funds coming in, we’ll have to be entrepreneurial to take the college, and university, to a new level. I have no doubt that with the talented and committed folks we have at Rutgers, and the support of our alumni, we’ll make that happen.”


To read the original story this was exerpted from, see the NCAS Fall 2011 Newsletter.