Honorary Degree Recipient
STEPHEN B. RUBENSTEIN
Doctor of Laws
After a year of studies at the University of Vermont, Stephen Rubenstein launched his own real estate company in 1961. By buying degraded factories and warehouses and making significant improvements that added value, in just over 40 years, Rubenstein built his family business into a multi-million dollar conglomerate of real-estate development, construction, and defense-contracting companies.
Rubenstein Properties of Little Falls, New Jersey, not only adds value to each site, its practices reduce the impact of construction on surrounding properties and use environmentally sensitive design. For instance, one purchase turned out to have been a pesticide manufacturing site back in 1929. Its soil tests showed the highest arsenic levels of any place in the United States. Rubenstein worked through the challenges of clean-up and restored the site.
Stephen Rubenstein has brought his personal hallmarks of adding value and environmental stewardship to the University of Vermont: in 1993, he became a founding member of the board of advisors of what was then called the School of Natural Resources. There he championed the idea that Vermont’s own extraordinary environment is a natural home to America’s top environmental school.
In 1997, Stephen and his wife, Beverly Rubenstein, donated $1 million toward the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory on the shores of Lake Champlain in Burlington. The fully-equipped research facility opened two years later, and in May 2003 the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain was built connected to the lab to highlight the partnership between science research and public science education.
While at the time this gift was the largest ever received by the School of Natural Resources, Stephen and Beverly Rubenstein broke their own record in October 2003 – their generous $15 million commitment in support of environmental education and research at the University of Vermont is the largest in the institution’s 200 years. This unparalleled gift was the cornerstone of the launch of UVM’s current $250-million capital campaign. Last fall, UVM’s School of Natural Resources was re-named the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources in the Rubenstein family’s honor.
With these commitments, the Rubenstein family has made UVM one of only two named environmental schools in the nation, made possible faculty enrichment and student scholarships, inspired environmental study across disciplines, and helped the university on its way to becoming the nation’s pre-eminent institution for environmental study.
Steve Rubenstein, who began at the University of Vermont in horticulture studies, has grown a successful business and is helping the environment flourish through the education of future environmental leaders.