Courier News: Basking Ridge couple supports Raritan Valley Community College programs with $500K gift


Courier News: Basking Ridge couple supports Raritan Valley Community College programs with $500K gift

Friday, May 14, 2021
masked female student bending and planting

Cheryl Makin

April 26, 2021

BRANCHBURG — A Basking Ridge couple recently gave a $500,000 donation to Raritan Valley Community College. The gift will support a number of initiatives on campus, including the College’s Center for Environmental Studies, Galileo Scholarships, Honors Capstone Research, Authentic Engineering Experience and other RVCC programs.

The donation from Jim and Jill Gibson will sustain student involvement in seven environmental areas of concern, including Forest Ecology, Wildlife Research, Coastal Conservation, Rare Plant Research and Recovery, Open Space Stewardship and Native Plant Propagation, Water Quality Research and Campus Sustainability, as well as interdisciplinary campus collaborations in workforce development and environmental justice.

"Our support of Raritan Valley stems from the great work they are doing, including research in several areas of critical importance, as well as their commitment to enriching the student experience," Jim Gibson said. "We’re lucky to have such a worthy college in our home community."

The Gibsons’ gift will be spread across five years and will help ensure the financial stability of the Center for Environmental Studies — which is the only such center at a Garden State community college.

"The Gibsons’ extraordinary generosity is a resounding affirmation of the work of our faculty and the quality of our students," RVCC President Michael J. McDonough said. "We couldn’t be more honored or grateful. Their incredible gift will help us maintain our commitment to providing innovative environmental education and being a national leader in sustainability initiatives."

Dr. Jay Kelly, co-director of the Center with Dr. Emily Stander, said the gift was "momentous."

"The Gibsons’ generosity has been nothing short of transformational for our programs, and this gift will allow us to continue to offer opportunities for our students to apply what they are learning in their classes to directly benefit the communities we serve," Kelly said. "We are all thrilled and beyond grateful."

"This support will allow us to continue to employ student interns year-round on a wide variety of environmental projects," Stander said. "It will help kickstart their careers as environmental professionals, as well as provide valuable technical assistance and service to local communities and environmental organizations."

With their latest gift, the Gibsons are now the largest single donors to RVCC. In 2016, the couple provided an equally generous commitment to support STEM education programs and innovation in science, technology and research, including "in-the-field" projects to enhance student learning.

"We are so fortunate to have such caring and generous supporters of the College," said Mike Marion, Executive Director, RVCC Foundation. "The Gibsons are truly in a league of their own: they believe in the mission of RVCC and they’re committed to supporting it."

RVCC has been serving as an academic and cultural center for Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for more than 50 years. The college offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training, small business assistance through the Small Business Development Center, and professional development courses. It also is home to a Planetarium, Science Education Institute, and an Honors College for high achieving students.
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Cheryl Makin is an award-winning features and education reporter for, part of the USA Today Network. Contact: or @CherylMakin.