For prestigious private colleges, where donations that top $100 million are increasingly common, $15 million might buy naming rights to a new building or a laboratory. But for a community college, a donation of that size is both rare and transformative, and so New York’s newest community college is getting a new name: the Stella and Charles Guttman Community College.
The Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation is giving $15 million to the school now known as New Community College, which the Council for Aid to Education, a nonprofit group based in New York, said was one of the largest donations ever for a public two-year college. The foundation is giving an additional $10 million to increase graduation rates at all seven community colleges of the City University of New York.
The foundation, which seeks the “improvement and benefit of mankind, and the alleviation of human suffering,” has supported many educational causes, but the combined $25 million gift, which was announced on Monday, is its largest, representing half of its current assets.
Charles Guttman grew up on the Lower East Side, where his formal education ended when he was 13, and went on to found the Paddington Corporation, the importer of, among other products, J & B Scotch. He and his wife, Stella, died in 1969, leaving essentially all their fortune to charity.
Elizabeth Olofson, the executive director of the foundation, said its work in programs on early childhood education and college access had brought it into contact with many students in the city’s public schools. But when asked how those students fared in college, the programs’ administrators said they did not have the resources to track that information.