NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers University hosted an elaborate party on June 10 at the construction site of the Rutgers Honors College, according to several sources.
The hosts of the event estimate that the total cost was approximately $280,000, a figure that has not yet been made public.
"The event’s costs were covered by the Rutgers University Foundation, Inc., a separate 501(c)3 organization, using only private money," said Nevin Kessler, President of the private foundation closely tied to the university.
Attendees included Rutgers President Bob Barchi, and New Brunswick Development Corporation President Chris Paladino, whose company is building several construction projects for the school in New Brunswick and Newark.
Barchi said he did not know how much the event cost, and emphasized that it was paid for entirely with "private funds."
"I have no idea. I'm not involved in that," said Barchi, when asked approximately how much was spent on the affair. "All I know I can tell you is it was private funds."
"I consider it a good use of the money," said Barchi. ""We have to thank our donors and to make sure that they understand what we're doing with it and where we're going."
"It was an event to celebrate the conclusion of the Our Rutgers, Our Future Campaign, which raised $1.037 billion to support the university," said Kessler. "It also highlighted the new Honors College in New Brunswick, for which the university is raising private gifts, and the momentum that the university is experiencing across the state."
The daylong event was meant to celebrate the school recently meeting its $1 billion fundraising goal, according to Rutgers officials.
"The Momentum event was a celebration by the Rutgers Foundation to mark the successful completion this year of a more than $1 billion fundraising effort and to recognize the contributions of the donors and others who made that accomplishment possible," Rutgers spokesperson EJ Miranda told New Brunswick Today.
The event took place in a large, well-lit tent in the courtyard of the Rutgers Honors College building, and featured a multi-course meal, a band performance, and a fireworks display.
"The attendees were major donors to the campaign, and other senior alumni volunteer leaders," said Kessler.
The amount of money that may have been raised during the event, such as through extra donations or possible ticket sales, was not available.
"The purpose of the event was to celebrate Rutgers' strengths, growth, and potential", a staff member of the Rutgers Foundation told New Brunswick Today.
"It is a best practice for universities and other large non-profits to celebrate the conclusion of multi-year campaigns with major events, intended to celebrate the generosity of its donors, and to motivate them to consider additional private gifts in the future," said Kessler.
The professional fireworks display took many people not invited to the event by surprise in New Brunswick and Piscataway.
Highland Park used its official Facebook page to warn residents about the that fireworks would be going on from 9 pm to 9:30 pm on June 10th, saying "Rutgers will be holding a private fireworks display for a building dedication."
"We urge residents to avoid Johnson Park during this time", the post continued.
No such post was made by Rutgers or the government in New Brunswick, nor were there any public advertisements of the event by the University.
The event was one of two elaborate non-profit events held on the evening of June 10.
As we reported previously, an unrelated fundraiser for a non-profit called "Crime Stoppers of Middlesex County" brought together city cops, hospital executives, and a private developer who hosted the party on his yacht while sailing on the Hudson River.