Alumna donates $100K for overseas studies

Students looking to pursue academic projects overseas next year have a better chance to save money. College alumna Gale Wayman, class of 1970, donated $100,000 to the College to endow the Mary G. Roebling International Travel Fund.

The fund will help students studying overseas defray costs that other sorts of grants don’t cover. According to Susan Albertine, dean of the School of Culture and Society, students often have to pay for transportation, lodging, meals and facilities that serve as barriers to sending even middle-class students abroad.

The fund is an endowed fund, which means that only the interest on the original $100,000 investment will be spent. According to Peter Manetas, director of development with the office of Development and Alumni Affairs, approximately $4,000 will be available each year to fund grants for students. That amount may grow if more money is contributed to the fund.

The grants will only be available to junior and senior students enrolled in the School of Culture and Society, and will be offered starting next academic year. Albertine estimated that the grants would be approximately $1,000 each, primarily to defray travel costs.

“(Airfare) seems to be what really pushes people over the line,” she said.

Albertine said she had not yet consulted with the school’s department chairs to discuss the criteria for the grants, but said the Phi Kappa Phi research grants that are offered each year will serve as her model when crafting selection criteria for the travel fund recipients.

Phi Kappa Phi grant applicants are required to have a sponsoring faculty member and to develop a specific area of research. Albertine also said she hoped students would come back and share what they learned with the College.

Wayman often travels to developing markets to establish distributorships for her medicine exporting business.

“My traveling gave me an opportunity to learn other cultures and see how similar people are,” Wayman said. She said she wanted to give College students the same opportunity.

“This is my way to help students broaden their education,” she said. “It’s time for me to give back to my school.”

Wayman, who holds a master’s degree in peace studies from Bradford College in England, said her gift can support academic research and bring people together.

“I learned the more we can get people talking, the more peace we’ll have in the world,” she said.

The fund is the result of a luncheon Wayman had with Albertine and two students from the College who had traveled abroad. Albertine said as they talked, they realized helping students experience new cultures was an unmet need.

“It’s like a matchmaking process,” Manetas said about filling needs with funds from interested donors. “We encourage (alumni) if they’re passionate about a specific area to foster that.”

The fund is named after Mary G. Roebling, a Trenton-area banking executive and philanthropist that Wayman credits as a mentor.Roebling was a trailblazer in 1937 when she became the first president of a United States bank, the Trenton Trust Company.

Wayman said Roebling taught her about business and helped her in many ways that went beyond the nuts and bolts of the trade.

Wayman said having Roebling as a mentor who believed in her helped raise her own self-esteem so that she had the confidence to pursue her dreams. She also taught Wayman how to take her business seriously, without taking herself too seriously.

“She was a great lady,” Wayman said.