Five-Star Contribution - Greg Summers

Five-Star Contribution

Greg Summers works a block-and-a-half from the World Trade Center, and is reminded daily of the actions of firefighters, police and EMTs on 9/11.

“The heroism and sacrifice of those first responders were truly inspiring,” says Summers, a managing partner at Chartwell Trading, a multi-strategy hedge fund.

As the country mobilized for war after that day in 2001, he was inspired by the selflessness and devotion to duty of the men and women who serve in the military, he says.

“I wanted to give something back.”

That desire led to a scholarship at Seton Hall that earmarks $80,000 from the Summers Family Foundation for post-9/11 military veterans and first responders, or their children.

The idea came in 2007 at a steakhouse outside Fort Benning, Ga., where Summers had taken his son, Greg Jr., and a dozen friends, to celebrate their graduation from U.S. Army Airborne Training.

Greg Jr. had graduated from Seton Hall in 2005 and put his career on hold to join the Army. (He eventually served in Iraq and Kuwait and later returned to Seton Hall to earn master’s degrees in diplomacy and business. His brother, Frank, also earned a master’s in business from Seton Hall.)

“At the restaurant I was thinking that these were tremendously dedicated and impressive men and women and that they deserve the opportunity to go to the best private schools like Seton Hall. I found out there was a need to fill in the gap between what the government would pay for their tuition to a private school and what it costs,” says Summers.

The foundation has set up similar scholarships at Fordham and Georgetown universities. It also helps support soup kitchens in Newark and Morristown. Awards of $5,000 are to be made to four Seton Hall students in each of the next four years “just to get off the ground,” Summers says, until he can create an endowment.

The gifts build on a record of giving that began many years ago with $1,000 contributions made at the urging of University benefactor George Ring ’65/M.B.A. ’71, a friend and neighbor. The relationship with the University was cemented when college-bound Greg Jr. “found a home” at Seton Hall, something his father well understood.

The Brooklyn native attended Catholic schools through his graduation from Fordham in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Summers ultimately opted for a career on Wall Street, where he has worked for several firms over the last 30 years.

The academics — but especially the values — imparted by a Catholic education are lessons that last a lifetime, Summers says.

“The University is thrilled to have donors like Mr. Summers who provide much needed support to deserving students,” said Alyssa McCloud, M.A. ’04/Ph.D. ’09, vice president of enrollment management. “His scholarship is a first for emergency responders or their children, and it will make a big difference to them and the military or their children.”

Under terms of the scholarship agreement, the University gives priority to post-9/11 combat and noncombat veterans or their children, followed by police officers and firefighters or their children, said Stephen F. Izzo, director of major gifts, who solicited the gift as well as prior contributions from Summers.

The scholarship program Summers established earlier at his alma mater made a big difference to its first recipient, Reena Singh of Jersey City, the daughter of a disabled Vietnam veteran.

With the death of her mother in 2007, the honors student worried about meeting tuition bills, so the scholarship “definitely alleviated a lot of strain and helped me stay focused on my classes.”

Having more freedom to take internships and participate in extracurricular activities related to her finance major “gave me an edge,” Singh said, enabling her to clinch a job with J.P. Morgan Chase after her graduation from Fordham in May 2011.

Singh also appreciated the career guidance she received from Summers. “I met with Greg and his wife, Gerri, several times and he told me about his career and the trading world,” she said. “He’s a very, very awesome guy.”