FDU president announces new School of Public and Global Affairs, supported by a gift from the Orefice family

By Kenna Caprio

Fairleigh Dickinson University has announced the formation of a new School of Public and Global Affairs.

“Helping to make this possible is a very generous gift of $2.5 million dollars, made recently by FDU alumnus James Orefice and his family,” said University President Christopher A. Capuano. “The Orefice family gift will be used to support private scholarships for students studying in the new school and to support distinguished visiting faculty who will teach in the new school.”

Jim Orefice edit 3 Convocation 2016

The School of Public and Global Affairs will build on the success of FDU’s Public Administration Institute and Master of Public Administration, FDU’s PublicMind polling institute, and new and existing graduate programs in public administration and global affairs. The new school will operate University-wide, offering programs at all four FDU campuses, eventually including its international campuses in Canada and England.

Alumnus James Orefice stands to be recognized, at Convocation 2016, for his generous gift to the new School of Public and Global Affairs. (Photo by Roy Groething)

“FDU is in my family’s blood,” said Orefice, who grew up down the street from the Metropolitan Campus, off of River Road in Teaneck, N.J. He studied history at the University, and is now a real estate executive and owner of Orefice Properties. “I’m proud to be a part of this great mosaic — a wonderful University to attend for people in the NYC metro area and beyond.”

Orefice has fond memories of his FDU professors: the late Emil Lengyel, adjunct professor of history and chairman of the social sciences department; Lev Braun, professor emeritus of history and political science; Faramarz (Jim) Fatemi, professor emeritus of history and political science; and Helen Brudner, professor emerita of history and political science. “Graduate school,” he says, “helped me anticipate trends and make business decisions. It taught me to think and solve problems.”

These days, he says, “I always have a book in my hand. Years ago, I dropped in on Dr. Fatemi. He turned to me and he said, ‘What have you read lately?’ Crickets. I was so busy at work that I hadn’t read anything in about six months. That’s never going to happen again. Now, I always have a book.”

That passion for education, so pronounced in his professors, Orefice says, remains prominent today at FDU. “It’s very gratifying to talk to some of the students, to hear their enthusiasm. There’s always been a positive trajectory with the University, and President Capuano exemplifies the great potential of the University and its mission.” [Florham Campus] Provost Woolley and many others have a special rapport with students, as does President Capuano. [The late] President Michael Adams was a man of optimism, former President Sheldon Drucker maintained the school’s direction and profitability, and President Capuano is a man of vision and detail. He just ties the whole thing together.”

School of Public and Global Affairs ribbon 1

Above (L to R): Senior Vice President for University AdvancemenRichard Reiss; University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Gillian Small; Chairman of the FDU Board of Trustees Patrick J. Zenner; alumnus and donor James Orefice; and University President Christopher A. Capuano celebrate the new School of Public and Global Affairs. (Photo by Bill Blanchard)

Orefice hopes that his family’s donation will spur students in a positive direction, helping them to become involved and concerned citizens. “It’s about getting them to jump off in the right direction and know how to deal with world issues,” Orefice says. “Our greatest resource is the young people in our country.

“Once you get off campus, and you start talking to people, they’re not as engaged as they should be. This country is too much involved with sound bites and editorializing to get perspective on what’s really going on.”

Previously, Orefice’s generosity allowed the University to establish the Orefice Family Scholarship at FDU. The scholarship supports undergraduate students studying political science and international studies. The Orefice family has also contributed matching donations to the 42-Hour Challenge, in honor of FDU’s founding year 1942.

“As far as I’m concerned, with my family’s contribution, we’re a very small part of a very positive movement at FDU,” Orefice says.