Cooper Medical School of Rowan University receives $1.055 million gift from senior vice president of Comcast Corporation

Cooper Medical School of Rowan University receives $1.055 million gift from senior vice president of Comcast Corporation

Cooper Medical School of Rowan University receives $1.055 million gift from senior vice president of Comcast Corporation

Gloucester County, March 12, 2012

GLASSBORO — On Monday, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University received its largest gift yet — a $1.055 million endowment to the Rowan University Foundation for medical student scholarships.

Lawrence J. Salva — senior vice president, chief accounting officer and controller of Comcast Corporation — and his wife, Rita, of Princeton, have pledged this amount to establish the Lawrence & Rita Salva Medical Scholars Fund at Rowan. The gift will establish a $1 million endowment to benefit students enrolled at CMSRU for years to come. The additional $55,000, and the earnings on the endowment, will provide $100,000 in scholarships for the medical school’s charter class. The Camden school will welcome its first class this August.

“Today is truly a great day for Rowan, the medical school and South Jersey,” said R.J. Tallarida, assistant vice president for development and acting executive director of the Rowan University Foundation. “Larry is a 1977 graduate, and this is the largest one-time gift by a Rowan alum the Foundation has ever received.”

Rowan Interim President Ali Houshmand called the gift “transformative.”

“Every time this scholarship helps to train a doctor who goes on to treat many ill people, the legacy of the endowment continues,” said Houshmand. “This will benefit many for years to come, especially in a time when student debt is such a serious issue in the country.”

CMSRU Founding Dean Dr. Paul Katz said medical students face an enormous amount of debt. The average medical student graduates with nearly $150,000 worth of debt, and — he said — about 30 percent of the students accepted at CMSRU will be considered disadvantaged. The tuition for a CMSRU student will be approximately $32,860 in-state and $52,680 for out-of-state students. According to Katz, the average annual cost of living for a medical school student in New Jersey is $57,400.

“What kind of impact does this have on career choice?” said Katz. “This is why positions in primary care come up short. In 2020, there are predicted to be 40,000 fewer primary care physicians in this area than are needed.”

Add to that, said Katz, that most students come to medical school already bearing debt from their undergraduate years.

“The impact of this gift is a multiplier,” said Katz. “Every patient they touch will benefit from this generosity.”

Lawrence Salva said he and his wife are both really excited about the medical school and the promise it holds for Rowan and South Jersey.

“We were given an opportunity to help medical students make a positive impact on others,” he said. “It’s especially gratifying to share the fruits of our success to create these opportunities. We hope the physicians trained at CMSRU will stay in South Jersey to practice, especially as primary care physicians. The region needs them.”

Salva said it was the perfect time for he and his wife to offer such a gift, but the family is not new to giving. Since 2002, Salva — who served eight years as a member of the alumni association board — has contributed $125,000 to the Salva Family Scholarship Fund. The fund assists students involved in Rowan’s radio station — WGLS-FM — as well as radio/television/film majors.

Rita Salva, who has a background in health care, said she and her husband agreed the medical school would be the ideal recipient for their gift.

“We feel that this will be a successful medical school, and — down the road — we’re looking at dental and allied health schools,” she said.

Lawrence Salva said he hoped the recipients of the scholarships would be encouraged to grow their practices in the region.

“One of the scholarship’s outlined criteria will be for someone educated k-12 in the South Jersey area,” he said. “We’re giving the institution flexibility in awarding them, but one other category might include someone who previously served the community who will be likely to continue here.”

Katz said, overall, the state has not been doing well in growing a workforce of physicians.

“Twenty-eight percent of our physicians’ workforce is age 60 years or greater,” said Katz. “There’s a gap to fill, and we also don’t do a great job of retaining our graduates in the region. As a school, we’re looking to enroll New Jersey students with a real sense of community. If these students go to our school, they’ll be more likely to practice in this region.”

This is not the first gift CMSRU has received, though it is the largest. In 2009, alumnus Dr. Marque Allen and his wife Yvette pledged $100,000 for student scholarships. Haddonfield physician Dr. Michael Renzi and his family then gave a $200,000 gift. And, most recently, the Schlitt family of physicians — Drs. Ludwig, Michael, Stephanie and Mark of Advocare Pediatric Group in Haddon Heights — pledged $300,000.

Contact Jessica Driscoll at 856-686-3682 or