Kenneth Chenault
Higher Ed

NJCU Announces Scholarship Gift from Kathryn and Kenneth Chenault

New Jersey City University (NJCU) has announced that Kathryn and Kenneth Chenault have gifted $100,000 to the university to establish an endowed scholarship fund. It is among the largest gifts from an honorary degree recipient in the institution’s history. Kenneth Chenault, the chairman and a managing director of the venture capital firm General Catalyst, and former chairman and CEO of American Express, was awarded an honorary doctorate degree on June 15, 2021 during NJCU’s Commencement exercises that honored graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 during a fully in-person ceremony.

The annual scholarship, expected to first be awarded in 2023, will support the educational needs of a first-generation student who demonstrates both financial need and active participation and leadership in community service. First-generation students comprise 54% of the institution’s undergraduate population.

“Education is a pathway to success. Kathy and I are thrilled to establish a scholarship fund for students who are the first in their family to go to college,” said Kenneth Chenault. “NJCU is not just committed to educating its students; it is committed to the families of its students, nourishing souls, and lifting communities.”

NJCU President Sue Henderson said: “I am so grateful to the Chenaults for their generous support of our university and our long-standing mission as an institution dedicated to educating all the students who come to its doors. A gift of this magnitude truly comes from the heart and will make a significant, lasting impact in the social mobility and lives of our first-generation college students. Their success is our success, and today I am proud to say the Chenaults have made a permanent investment in the future of those students.”

Peter Hernandez, the chairman of the NJCU Foundation Board of Directors, added: “I am grateful to the Chenaults for their generosity towards our students and support of the university and the foundation board’s mission.”

At General Catalyst, Kenneth Chenault focuses on investing in fast-growing companies that have the potential to become large, fundamental institutions. He also provides invaluable guidance to portfolio companies, particularly to those with an eye towards global markets and responsible innovation, as they scale their teams and products. As chairman, Chenault leverages his renowned leadership abilities and experience to continue to evolve General Catalyst into a formidable and enduring firm.

Prior to joining General Catalyst, he was chairman and chief executive officer of American Express Company, a position he held from 2001 to 2018. He joined American Express in 1981 as director of strategic planning and served subsequently in a number of increasingly senior positions, including vice chairman and president and chief operating officer, until his appointment as CEO.

Chenault is recognized as one of the business world’s experts on brands and brand management. He has been honored by multiple publications including Fortune Magazine, which named him as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders in its inaugural list in 2014 and, most recently, in 2021.

Chenault serves on the boards of Airbnb, Berkshire Hathaway, Chief, Guild Education, and the Harvard Corporation. He is a co-founder of OneTen, a coalition of leading executives coming together to upskill, hire and advance one million Black Americans over the next 10 years into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement.

He serves on the Board of Governors of the NCAA, which helps set the future direction for college sports. Additionally, Chenault serves on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution’s Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Human Centered Artificial Intelligence Institute Advisory Council at Stanford University. He also serves on the board of trustees for NYU Langone Health.

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