Joan Bildner, a philanthropist and longtime community leader, passed away on June 23, 2013 after a brief illness. Joan 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.
Joan and Allen, her husband of sixty-four years, founded the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life at Rutgers in 1996, and Joan served as co-chair of the Center’s Leadership Committee. Joan and Allen’s generosity and leadership were honored by Rutgers in 1999 when the university bestowed on them its Medal of Philanthropic Excellence.
The Bildners’ strong commitment to promoting understanding between different cultures and ethnic groups and to reducing prejudice has been one of the guiding principles of the Center’s diverse academic programs and cultural initiatives. The founding of the Bildner Center soon led to the establishment of the Department of Jewish Studies and has been a major contributor to the renaissance of Jewish life on campus.
She is survived by her two sons, Rob and Jim, and daughters-in-law, Elisa and Nancy, as well as grandchildren, Elana, Lizzie, Ari, Eli and Rafi. Joan will be greatly missed by her family, friends, and the community. The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life is honored to carry on her legacy.