(Williamsburg, VA) - The College of William and Mary announced today that Sherman Cohen, a Manhattan real estate developer who attended the College in 1938, and his wife, Gloria, have committed $6 million to build a new career center at the College.
"It is a pleasure to help today's students and alumni find their own paths in life with the state-of-the-art facility they deserve," said Cohen, who grew up in the Tidewater Virginia area. "This Career Center will guide the future leaders of this country. Gloria and I are thrilled to support that effort."
The Cohen gift will largely fund construction of the 11,000-gross-square-foot facility, which will be named The Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Career Center. The facility 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.
"Career counseling and help in finding jobs have become increasingly important to students and their parents," said William & Mary President Taylor Reveley. "Excellent physical facilities are crucial to success on these fronts. Because of the Cohens' great generosity, William & Mary will finally have such facilities. They will help tremendously."
The $7.9 million facility is scheduled to be completed during the fall semester of 2010. Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2009. A ceremonial groundbreaking will take place at the site at 11:30 a.m. this Friday.
With more students each year using the Career Center at its current location in the basement of Blow Memorial Hall, space and resources are at a premium. The Career Center's current space in Blow 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.
According to Mary Schilling, director of the Career Center, the new facility's amenities will increase usage even further. "The experience of other institutions suggests that an attractive and highly visible career center will bring students from freshman to senior year," Schilling said. "Some centers report double the traffic and career center contact once a new center is opened."
"The new center will offer the College an opportunity to impress upon employers the quality of our university and the students it produces," said Terence Mandable '92, a senior associate and recruiter with Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading strategy and technology consulting firm with headquarters in northern Virginia. "The variety of space in one location will make recruiters' time on campus more effective, allowing them to offer events from corporate presentations and interviews to more targeted discussions with 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 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.
For many years, Cohen has maintained a strong friendship with former William & Mary President Paul Verkuil, who served as the College's chief executive from 1985-92.
"The College has long been in my thoughts," Cohen said. "Although I left to pursue business opportunities, I have been continually impressed with the College's fine reputation. Becoming reconnected to the College through Paul Verkuil was an added bonus."
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.
"It is heartwarming to see Sherman Cohen return to his roots in Virginia and make such a difference for the better at William & Mary, his alma mater of 70 years ago," Reveley said. "This is simply marvelous for us all."