Seton Hall University Alum Gives $1.25 Million Toward International Programs and New Practice Facility
Seton Hall University alumnus Bruce Tomason '69 meets students who will be studying abroad in 2023. From left to Right: Assistant Director of International Programs Douglas Cantelmo, Arien Yeddanapally, Andrea Hebel, Isabella Maddalone, Bruce Tomason, Danniel de Dios, Erika David, Eve Cook, and Director of International Programs Maria Bouzas-Sbrigato.
Bruce Tomason '69, co-founder and past Executive Chair of Velocity Clinical Research, Inc., and Managing Partner of Summit Healthcare, announced he is donating $1 million to Seton Hall University’s Office of International Programs and an additional $250,000 to help fund the upcoming construction of a student recreation center and athletics practice facility.
The gift to International Programs will help the University realize its goals of increasing access for students to study abroad, expanding the number of international students on campus, and establishing initiatives in Rome, Latin America, and beyond. The gift to the practice facility will help the University complete the next step in its 10-year master plan to enhance facilities for all athletics programs: the expansion of the recreation center to include a new practice gym for men’s basketball and enhanced resources for women’s basketball and other athletics programs.
"Having served on the Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents for a total of 17 years, Bruce Tomason has been an invaluable voice in the evolution of University strategy,” noted University President Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D. “His gifts validate our commitment to enhancing two of our top-priority areas: international programs and athletics. We are honored and grateful that he is investing in our students so generously."
At a recent luncheon with students who will be travelling overseas next year, Tomason recounted how the five years of his career spent working and living in London sparked his appreciation for cultivating a global mindset. Studying abroad helps students learn how to solve problems, he noted, and it opens their perspective on the human experience through the lens of different cultures. It also gives graduates an edge on the job search. “Putting yourself in new situations and environments, such as living and studying abroad, builds a sense of confidence that you can take with you to any career."
Tomason’s Seton Hall story is not atypical: a 2nd-generation American born of blue-collar parents who moved from Kearny to Florham Park in the ’50s, Tomason chose Seton Hall because he was familiar with the name, having followed the men’s basketball team since he was in 3rd grade.
“Seton Hall was a natural for me,” said Tomason. “Several members of my family attended Seton Hall and that influenced my choice. During my freshman year, I joined a fraternity with group of friends and thankfully, I’m still close with many of them after these 55 years. I don’t know if I would have the same friendships I have if I had gone anyplace else.”
After he earned his B.A. in economics at Seton Hall and an M.B.A. from Columbia University, Tomason’s quest for excellence led him to a career in managing and investing in various healthcare and clinical-research businesses. He has held senior executive roles in a wide range of companies, such as Evans Medical Ltd., Alterna LLC, One Call Medical, Inc., Copernicus Group, IRB, and several more in addition to Velocity Clinical Research, Inc.
His job at a British pharmaceutical company brought him, his late wife Carol, and their two young daughters to live in London from 1986 to 1990: an experience that transformed his life. “When my wife and I first got married, our dream was to spend three weeks in Europe,” said Tomason. “Little did we know we’d spend five years there and form lifelong friends.” They travelled extensively while living in Europe, reaching as far as Egypt and when was then the Soviet Union.
When Tomason’s daughters were back in the States and enrolled in college, they both participated in study-abroad programs. “Having seen what my daughters’ universities offered—in fact, somewhat expected—made me realize Seton Hall didn’t have as robust a program,” said Tomason. He and Carol then set up a scholarship at Seton Hall in 2007 to give more students access to international experiences.
Now, 15 years later, Tomason has decided to make an even more meaningful gift. “I am committed to what the University represents and what it does for students—particularly for first-generation students like myself, who have an opportunity to go to college,” said Tomason. “That experience in itself—apart from the international experiences—changes the trajectory of people’s lives. I’m a good example of it.”
The motivating factor for Tomason was Seton Hall’s leadership under President Nyre, who took the helm in 2019. “Under Dr. Nyre, the University is willing to raise its own game in terms of being an institution of distinction,” said Tomason. “We’ve had good leaders in the past and we’ve had supportive Regents and Trustees in the past, but to me there’s a different energy now. You have to strike when you can. This is the time.”
He also credited University Provost Katia Passerini, Ph.D., who was hired soon after President Nyre came on board, for having the vision and enthusiasm to cultivate an international mindset on campus.
“When students meet people from other cultures, engage in dialogue, witness their lives, read their literature, see and hear their philosophies, learn their history, and absorb their art—only then can they have a true grasp on the human experience,” said Passerini. “That is why we have an accelerated plan to give more students access for study-abroad opportunities, and to bring more students from different countries to Seton Hall. I am grateful to Bruce for his overwhelming generosity, which enables us to take a giant step in this direction.”
Currently, Seton Hall’s Office of International Programs offers exchange programs, faculty-led programs, and programs offered through third-party vendors. The Office recently launched the “Rome Connection” program for first-year students and a Criminal Justice program in Colombia. Future initiatives include study abroad opportunities in South America, the Middle East and South East Asia. Tech upgrades to the application process have sparked a significant uptick in applications, which Tomason finds encouraging.
“I would love to see that our international program becomes almost an expectation of attending Seton Hall,” said Tomason. “You attend Seton Hall and one of the cool things you do is go overseas. We have the opportunity to build a great international program, and the experience can be so singular that it becomes one of the assets in selling the university to future students.”
Many years ago, Jon Paparsenos '99, Vice President for University Advancement and a Seton Hall alum, arrived on campus fresh from his homeland, Greece, and started classes soon afterwards. “I was shocked—like jumping into cold water—but exhilarated at the same time,” said Paparsenos. “I was privileged in that I had an opportunity to embrace another culture. I am heartened that Bruce shares an understanding of the impact and has made an investment so that more Seton Hall students can have this life-changing experience.”
Although Tomason has a passion for other cultures, there is one American pastime he is equally avid about: basketball. Indeed, it was his passion for following Seton Hall that eventually led to his choice of college. “I remember sitting at the kitchen table. My grandmother had a subscription to the Newark Evening News, and I would read about Seton Hall basketball,” he recalled. Tomason’s neighbor, a Seton Hall alumnus, started bringing him to games when he was 11 years old, where he would sit on the floor of Walsh Gymnasium, right under the basket.
“I remember one of my first games was seeing Nick Werkman back in the early ’60s when he led the country in scoring. Walsh was considered to be a big-time basketball arena. In those days it was an electric environment in which to watch a game.”
A season ticket holder for nearly 30 years until he moved out of the area, Tomason understands that the Seton Hall University brand benefits tremendously from the success of its Division-I athletics program. “It gives us tremendous exposure and name recognition,” he said, “When you play nationally recognized teams, whether it’s men’s basketball, women’s basketball, soccer, golf, or another sport, you play against elite teams and those who are watching mentally put you in that category.”
The new practice facility will involve a remodeling and extension of the Richie Regan Recreation & Athletic Center on the South Orange campus. It is the latest step in a long-range plan to enhance athletics and recreational facilities for the entire Seton Hall community. It will incorporate new facilities for both the men’s and women’s basketball programs, such as a new gym, players’ lounges, locker rooms, a sports medicine room, a strength and conditioning room, coaches’ offices, film rooms, a nutrition center, a stunning new façade and entryway, and more. Space will be freed up for other athletics programs and members of the Seton Hall community who use the facilities.
“The new practice facility is literally going to be a game-changer, and I’m thrilled that Bruce is behind the project,” said Athletic Director Bryan Felt. “There is nothing quite like Pirate Pride and Bruce has been one of our proudest supporters for decades. As we continue to finesse the design and set the timeline, I am grateful that Bruce and the other benefactors to the project are making it all possible.”
To learn more about Seton Hall’s International Programs and the plans for the new practice facility, contact [email protected], (973) 378-9800.