University of Vermont Benefactor Stephen B. Rubenstein Dies at 69
Release Date: 06-25-2008
Stephen B. Rubenstein of New Vernon, N.J., an entrepreneur, real estate developer and philanthropist, died Monday, June 23, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Rubenstein had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in April 2008. He was 69.
Rubenstein was president of Rubenstein Properties of Little Falls, New Jersey, a firm he founded in 1961 after studying horticulture at the University of Vermont. He built it in the ensuing decades into a multi-million dollar conglomerate of real-estate development, construction, and defense-contracting companies.
Rubenstein and his wife Beverly became the largest individual donors in University of Vermont history with a $15 million commitment to support environmental education and research announced in 2003. The gift resulted in the renaming of the university's School of Natural Resources to the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, the university's first named school and one of only a few named environment and natural resources program in the world.
The couple had previously made a $1 million gift naming the university's Stephen and Beverly Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory on the shores of Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vt. Over the years, the Rubensteins also made significant annual gifts to UVM supporting scholarships to fund student environmental research projects at various locations around the country and the world.
In addition to their support of the University of Vermont, the Rubensteins' philanthropy extended to conservation groups including American Forests and the Jewish National Fund, and to the state of Israel. Stephen Rubenstein was a member of numerous business, professional and non-profit boards, including The Willow School in Gladstone, N.J. and several at the University of Vermont.
Rubenstein took pride that his company, which bought degraded factories and warehouses and made significant improvements that added value, also employed practices to reduce the impact of construction on surrounding properties and use environmentally sensitive design. He brought those values of environmental stewardship to the University of Vermont in 1993, when 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.
"Steve's extraordinary vision for, and support of, UVM as the environmental university was enormously powerful, productive, and hugely influential in shaping UVM's institutional identity and destiny," said UVM president Daniel Mark Fogel. "Our thoughts and prayers go out at this sad moment to his family and especially to his wife Beverly, his son Andrew, daughter-in-law Vicki, and grandchildren Olivia and Cameron."
Rubenstein was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from the university at its 200th commencement in 2004.
Survivors include his wife, Beverly, son Andrew and daughter-in-law Victoria of Boonton, N.J., grandchildren Olivia and Cameron, brothers William Rubenstein of Colts Neck, N.J. and Richard Rubenstein of Bell Canyon, Calif., and a sister, Renee Worth of Fort Pierce, Fla.
A memorial service and funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Friday afternoon, June 27, at Danglers Funeral Home in Madison, NJ.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Forests, the Jewish National Fund, the Willow School, or the University of Vermont.