William S. Guttenberg, of Tenafly, who has spent his life, time and fortune making the world a better place for people with physical limitations and who are developmentally disabled, will receive an honorary doctorate from his alma mater New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
During the May 17, 2007 graduation ceremony in Continental Airlines Arena which starts at 9 a.m., Guttenberg will speak briefly. (ATTENTION EDITORS: To interview him, call Sheryl Weinstein, 973-596-3436.) Among the thoughts he intends to leave with students: “NJIT has given you the tools to become successful in any field that you choose. Through education this country and the world can survive. Remember to repay NJIT so that others can follow you.”
Guttenberg’s passion to help less fortunate others was borne from the challenges of cerebral palsy experienced by his own two children, both of whom have passed away.
Guttenberg talks proudly of his endowed scholarship program at NJIT.
Established in 1986 and expanded this past January, the program now provides eight students, some with physical challenges, four-year scholarships. The new bequest will allow a minimum of an additional 10 scholarships. First preference is to be given to deserving youngsters who are physically challenged. In addition, possible recipients may also be graduates of Paterson’s East Side High School, other inner city students, and/or Albert Dorman Honors College students. Guttenberg, himself, is a 1940 graduate of East Side. Guttenberg says this honor especially thrills him because as he receives his degree, so, too, will two current recipients of his scholarship program. “Wow,” he adds.
In 1980, Guttenberg, his late wife, Adele along with several other parents started Spectrum for Living, an organization to provide education, training and a residence for the multi-handicapped when aging parents can no longer meet their basic needs. The organization today serves more than 700 individuals in three New Jersey counties in an intermediate-care facility, group homes, apartments and adult training centers. After the death of the couple’s son, Chuck in 1997, they also contributed an endowment to the Jewish Community Center (JCC) on the Palisades, Tenafly, to create a services and programs in Chuck’s name. The center now offers more than a dozen therapy and recreational programs.
NJIT awarded Guttenberg a BS in electrical engineering in 1944 under an accelerated program necessitated by the manpower demands of World War II. Almost immediately following graduation, Guttenberg was inducted into the army as an infantryman in Europe, where he was wounded twice. While recovering, Bogue Electric Manufacturing, Paterson, where Guttenberg worked, rehired him. Guttenberg rose to president, but left in 1972 to found his own company, Wilco Electric, a Hackensack manufacturer of electro-mechanical parts for motors. Guttenberg retired in 2006.
At NJIT, Guttenberg’s support has been recognized with the university’s Alumni Achievement and Outstanding Alumni awards, and with the Weston Medal. In 1990, Guttenberg Information Technologies Center, a large multi-story building at NJIT was named in his honor.
“We at the JCC on the Palisades have been privileged to see Bill’s vision firsthand,” said Avi A. Lewinson, executive director of the JCC in Tenafly. “Bill serves as chair of the special services department which offers more than 65 weekly and monthly programs for individuals with disabilities and their families, including special life skills and vocational programs as well as specialized programs for children and teens with autistic spectrum disorders. As part of his contributions to our Center, Bill encourages parents to become involved in ‘making a difference’ as he and Adele did for decades.”