By Tatyanna Carman
A dedication ceremony was held for the residence hall Longstreet House, formerly known as Ridge House, with limited capacity on Sept. 24.
The residence hall was named after Rider alumnus and former member of Rider’s Board of Trustees Dennis Longstreet ‘69. He served 14 years as a member of the Board of Trustees and spent 36 years at Johnson and Johnson, a multinational medical device company, “working through various decisions,” according to Longstreet.
Longstreet committed $1 million in December 2019, according to the Associate Vice President of Campaign Operations and Director and Corporate and Foundation Relations Denise Pinney. She said that $500,000 of his gift contributed to the renovation of Longstreet House and the $500,000 contributed to the Dennis Longstreet ‘69 Residence Hall Renovation and Enhancement Endowed Fund.
“This creates a restricted endowment that will grow over time and be available in perpetuity,” Pinney said. “A small percentage of the fund will be allocated annually for continued residence hall maintenance, renovation and enhancement.”
The dedication was streamed via Zoom for students, faculty, staff and other members of the Rider community. Board of Trustee member William Rue ‘69 talked about his classmate Longstreet at the virtual event.
“I might add that what elevates Dennis even more in my mind, in addition to his professional success, it’s his philanthropy, which I know actually extends even beyond Rider University,” Rue said. “Dennis did not actually live on campus, but he knows as a former board member and parent that residence halls contribute to a student’s college experience and they need ongoing maintenance and renovation.”
Longstreet talked about his “strong commitment to college education” and the “warm spot” in his heart for Rider.
“It was here [where I] got my head start on a career and it was also here at Rider through their placement office that I got a chance to meet the company that eventually became my career, Johnson and Johnson,” he said. “And I recognize that the placement office had a lot to do with that.”
Longstreet also explained how his contribution has helped Rider amidst the pandemic.
“We are in difficult times with this coronavirus and when I made the decision to make a gift, this was just before this all took place,” Longstreet said. “And I think the timing was great both for Rider University and for students because it allowed me to contribute to making life more comfortable here for on-campus residents and also to provide financial support to Rider going forward.”
He said he felt very good about the gift and Rider’s future.
“I’m looking forward to students, many more, having the same benefits thanks to Rider and I feel very good and my wife does as well, making this contribution,” Longstreet said.
Student Government Association President and senior musical theater major Dylan Erdelyi talked about how Longstreet has inspired and impacted the Rider community.
“Mr. Longstreet exemplifies the best of us in this time —patience, dedication, hard work and philanthropy,” Erdelyi said. “It is truly so inspiring for us that are still working towards success to see a Rider alumnus who has achieved so much and taken the opportunity to return that support back to our community. The success of our student population is so deeply enriched by generous gifts such as Mr. Longstreet. These contributions make our campus the vibrant living and learning community that it is and will continue to be.”
Erdelyi gave Longstreet and his family gifts including Longstreet House T-shirts. He also introduced the unveiling of the Longstreet House sign on the building.
Vice President for Student Affairs Leanna Fenneberg let Longstreet know in her speech that the Rider community and especially the students appreciated Longstreet’s, “very kind investment in the college experience and how much living on-campus is a special part of that experience.”
Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo shared some remarks regarding what makes Rider “special.”
“It’s not the buildings or the beautiful campus. It’s the people —the alumni like Dennis, the students like Dylan and the faculty and staff who have and are continuing to make a difference in the lives of our students everyday,” Dell’Omo said. “Dennis you are among our elite alumni who have used your education wisely and have gone on to have a stellar career. As importantly, you have remembered you alma mater and made it your mission to impact our students’ lives.”
Dell’Omo said that the dedication was an “opportunity to celebrate an outstanding act of kindness and generosity.”
“Dedications such as this are very very important. Whether it is tomorrow or years from now when someone sees Longstreet House, they will know that a dedicated and proud alumnus gave back to our university,” he said.