Allen and Joan were the visionaries who founded the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life at Rutgers in 1996. Their generosity and leadership were honored by Rutgers in 1999 when the university bestowed on them its Medal of Philanthropic Excellence.
Allen and Joan’s strong commitment to promoting understanding between different cultures and ethnic groups and to reducing prejudice has been one of the guiding principles of the Bildner Center’s diverse programs and educational initiatives. The founding of the Bildner Center led to the establishment of the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University and has contributed to the renaissance of Jewish life on campus. It has also made a major impact on Jewish cultural life in the community.
Joan Bildner, a philanthropist and longtime community leader, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to promoting justice, equality, and diversity and was a strong advocate of public education. She served on Rutgers’ Board of Governors, Board of Trustees, and Board of Overseers for twelve years and was elected a Rutgers Trustee Emerita in 2006 in recognition of her distinguished service.
Allen was a respected leader in the Jewish and secular communities, serving on numerous nonprofit as well as for-profit boards including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, the Maltz Jupiter (Fla.) Theatre, Yankee Sports and Entertainment Network (YES), New Jersey Bell and Seton Hall University. Allen received numerous community and industry honors, as well as awards from Dartmouth College, from which he graduated and from where he received an MBA. His honors include the Dartmouth Alumni Award, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Lifetime Achievement Award of Dartmouth College, the Charles Evans Hughes Humanitarian Award of the National Conference of Community and Justice (NCCJ) and honorary doctorates, along with Joan Bildner, from Bloomfield College and Rowan University.