W&M celebrates future Cohen Career Center

  • The ceremony(l to r) Sherman Cohen and his wife, Gloria, join W&M President Taylor Reveley and former President Paul Verkuil for a ceremonial groundbreaking of the new Cohen Career Center.

    By Stephen Salpukas

    The ceremony
  • Sherman CohenA New York real estate developer, Sherman Cohen said he and his wife, Gloria, were thrilled to be part of the new center.

    By Stephen Salpukas

    Sherman Cohen
  • Artist's renderingA depiction of the Cohen Career Center when finished.

    Courtesy of Cunningham/Quill Architects

    Artist's rendering
With the flicks of the shovels and a series of congratulatory handshakes, William & Mary signaled a new era of career services at the College.

On the heels of news that William & Mary was the recipient of a gift to fund construction of a new career center, the campus community came together Friday for a ceremonial groundbreaking to celebrate the future facility and to honor the donors. William & Mary announced December 2 that Sherman Cohen, a Manhattan real estate developer who attended the College in 1938, and his wife, Gloria, have committed $6 million toward a new career center.

The Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Career Center will open in the fall of 2010.

“The Cohen Career Center will introduce William & Mary students to the range of options open to them during summer breaks and after college – countless vocations and countless opportunities for further study. And the Cohen Career Center will help equip our students with the skills needed to pursue the opportunities they find most engaging,” said William & Mary President Taylor Reveley. “In short, Sherman and Gloria’s extraordinarily generous gift is a powerful investment in the potential of our students, helping us to launch them on the next phase of their lives after their time on campus ends.”

The Cohen gift will largely fund construction of the 11,000-gross-square-foot facility, which will be located at the heart of campus between Walter J. Zable Football Stadium and the Sadler Center and will feature an open and welcoming reception area and resource lounge, comfortable and spacious interview rooms, and a presentation room equipped with technology that develops career awareness and skills necessary for career development. The College will begin construction on the $7.9 million facility in the fall of 2009.

“It is a great pleasure for my wife Gloria and I to be here today at William & Mary,” Cohen said. “We are thrilled to be part of the new career center. We take great pride in helping students find the right career path. We believe this state-of-the-art facility is what they deserve.”

Cohen and his wife were joined Friday by their children, as well as former William & Mary President Paul Verkuil, who has maintained a strong friendship with Cohen over the past 20 years.

“The Cohens are very generous people and we’re really proud of them,” said Verkuil, who was president of the College from 1985-92. “This day will last with them and their family as one of their proudest moments.”

The Career Center's current space in the basement of Blow Memorial Hall is approximately 5,100 square feet. Last year, through programs and services, the center worked with more than 2,500 students and had a total (including return visits and services) of more than 6,800 student contacts. The amount of traffic could double when the new center opens, officials said.

“When this wonderful facility is completed, William & Mary will be one of only four major universities across the country with freestanding career centers,” said Mary Schilling, director of the Career Center. “This generous gift will enable us to serve generations of William & Mary students.”

A longtime resident of New York City, Sherman Cohen was born in Suffolk, Va., and grew up in Newport News, Va. Following in the footsteps of his brothers Mortimer and Edward, who attended William & Mary in the 1930s, Sherman attended the College in 1938. He withdrew from the College after a semester to pursue business interests. Cohen joined his brothers as co-owners and operators of a number of men's retail shops in Newport News.

The brothers sold their businesses in 1949, moving to their mother's native state of New York and in 1954, they started a construction company, constructing mid-rise suburban apartment and office buildings. Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation holdings today include more than 12 million square feet of prime real estate throughout the United States. Sherman's son, Charles, now runs the company as president and CEO.

Longtime philanthropists, Sherman and Gloria Cohen have also supported the Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Pavilion at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Conn. The Pavilion houses the Bendheim Cancer Center, a comprehensive Breast Center, and parking for outpatients. The Rogosin Institute in New York City likewise named The Sherman & Gloria H. Cohen Dialysis Center in their honor. The Cohens are also among the largest contributors to the Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan and have helped create broader opportunities for medical education and research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. They are also major contributors to the United Jewish Appeal Federation.