Rothman Institute looks to the future as it celebrates 25 years

By Kenna Caprio

The Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship at Fairleigh Dickinson University celebrated 25 years at its anniversary gala event and dinner on Thursday, April 2. With an eye to the future, Silberman College of Business Dean Andrew Rosman announced a new name for the institute, which will henceforth be known as the Rothman Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He also introduced the institute’s new executive director, Joseph Gulfo, and a new patient-centered innovation initiative with FDU’s School of Pharmacy.

rothman1Above: FDU President Sheldon Drucker (right) stands with Celgene Chairman and CEO Robert Hugin (center) and Andy Rosman, dean of FDU's Silberman College of Business at the Rothman Institute's 25th anniversary gala. (Photos by Bill Blanchard)


“The Initiative for Patient-Centered Innovation will be a rich and exclusive opportunity to enhance education by applying the lessons of business, pharmacy, public policy, and science taught at FDU,” said Rosman. “Students will engage, apply and participate in real-world debates, projects and programs that will help to shape public policy that affects the way pharmaceutical and related companies conduct business, particularly relating to patentable products and devices that lead to the advancement of science and medicine.”

The theme of medical and pharmaceutical innovation ran through the night, highlighted in comments from N.J. State Senator Robert Gordon (D-38) and the keynote address given by Robert Hugin, CEO of Celgene, a global biopharmaceutical and biotechnology company specializing in cancer treatment therapies.

rothman2Above: N.J. State Senator Robert Gordon (D-38) with FDU President Sheldon Drucker.


“It doesn’t take many people to make a difference,” said Hugin, noting the commonalities between Celgene and the Rothman Institute. “We really are forward-looking institutions.” He encouraged the students, faculty, staff, business leaders and burgeoning entrepreneurs in attendance to have bold vision and take risks. “There’s no greater social service than strengthening the economy and growing jobs,” he noted. “Jobs are created by innovators and entrepreneurs.”

In that spirit, the event honored the accomplishments of twelve distinguished guests whose lives have been impacted by the Rothman Institute: Mario Casabona, president and CEO of Casabona Ventures; Kathleen DiChiara, founder, president and CEO of Community FoodBank of NJ; L. Donald La Torre, president of L&G Management Consultants, Inc.; Delisha Thompson, senior and entrepreneurship major; Ryan Urban, co-founder and CEO of Bounce Exchange; Linda Wellbrock, president of Leading Women Entrepreneurs; Norbert Gaelen, retired chairman and CEO of the O.Berk Company; Bernard Tenenbaum, founding director of the Rothman Institute; Leo Rogers, former director of the Rothman Institute; James Barrood, former director of the Rothman Institute and leader of the New Jersey Technology Council; Adenah Bayoh, restaurateur and real estate development entrepreneur; and Garret Szibdat, owner of Shop Rite Wines & Spirits of Chester.

“It’s a great honor. This program has done a lot for me. Without the scholarships offered by Donald, I wouldn’t be studying here,” said Thompson, a member of the 2013-2014 NCAA championship-winning women’s basketball team at the Florham Campus. Her goal is to found a basketball camp for inner-city children, to get them off of the streets and teach academic, career and life skills. “I want them to succeed in the way FDU has afforded me,” she said.

rothman3Above: Linda Wellbrock, MBA'03 (Florham), one of the evening's honorees, with her father Richard "Dick" Wellbrock, BA'60 MBA'64 (Florham). Dick was a member of the first graduating class at the Florham Campus.

The Rothman Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship was founded in 1989 as the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies, endowed with funding from George and Phyllis Rothman. In 2015, the Institute, part of FDU’s Silberman College of Business, is being rebranded to focus on innovation programs, and support companies of all sizes in New Jersey and the tristate area.

“We are deepening our commitment to support small and large companies in their embrace of entrepreneurial thinking and innovation,” said Ethné Swartz, associate dean for innovation and strategic initiatives in Silberman College. “We want to work with large small and family-owned companies. We want to work with pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies; finance and those focused on sustainability; female and male-owned companies; those in technology and life sciences innovation.”

In his opening remarks, University President Sheldon Drucker recalled the University’s long history of innovation and entrepreneurship dating back to founder Peter Sammartino, a higher education innovator.

“We were one of the first higher education institutions to set up a center entire devoted to teaching, research and outreach in entrepreneurship,” said Drucker. “We are very proud of that fact.” This new era for the Institute will continue that legacy.

“Our goals are to make our students unique in the marketplace so that they will be sought after by employers and make a lasting contribution to society,” said Rosman.