UNION, NJ—Surrounded by festive balloons, a melody of romantic tunes both old and new, homemade heart-shaped cookies and the aroma of freshly-brewed hot chocolate, the Kean University community joined together on the afternoon of February 14 in the new North Avenue Academic Building to celebrate the life of Maxine Lane ’78 H’14 who died last May at the age of 90.

Valentine’s Day was a fitting day to pay tribute to a woman who epitomized the giving and altruistic spirit that is at the core of Kean University. The positive, warm energy that was Maxine seemed to permeate the auditorium that day as friends, mentees and students reminisced about what an enormous impact she had and what an inspiration she was to all who knew her.

“She was one of our sweetest, kindest and most esteemed benefactors,” said Foundation Board Chair Steve Fastook H’06.

Her generosity in part came in the form of an endowed scholarship for students in healthcare or education, which was first awarded in 2008. Since then, 48 students have received the Maxine and Jack Lane Endowed and Annual Education Scholarship.

Despite humble beginnings growing up in rural Arkansas during the Depression, Maxine is the single largest donor to Kean, having already contributed $3.1 million to the university by herself and with her late husband, Jack. In 2009, the university named the academic success center for the couple.
“Maxine was an elegant lady,” said Dr. Farahi who urged the students in the auditorium that day to be inspired by Maxine and her fearless plight to help others. “I hope some of you here today will do something similar, and I will build you an academic center for success too.”

One person benefiting from Maxine’s generosity was scholarship recipient Adele Morell who knows all too well what it’s like to be a non-traditional student. Speaking at the event, she said, “I am grateful for this opportunity and for Maxine Lane. And I will be about the same age as she was when I receive my degree in education.”

During the brief ceremony, guests were also treated to a collage of the speech Maxine gave at the 2014 commencement when she received an honorary degree.

Speaking from her heart as she always did, Maxine told graduates, “You know I love you. You know I do. I am supposed to love myself first, but I can’t help it. I love you more.”

Maxine attended Kean University in the 1970s as her husband climbed the corporate ladder at Mobil Corporation, and received a bachelor’s degree in social work at the age of 51.

Along the way, Maxine continued to practice her “talent,” as she called it, by saving and living frugally.

Dr. Farahi recalled to the audience having lunch at a Mexican restaurant with Maxine one day in Arizona where she lived. When asked why she chose that particular restaurant, he told the audience with a smile that she said it was because the portions were large, which enabled her to have enough for dinner.


UNION, NJ--The Kean University community joined together on the afternoon of November 17 to celebrate the life of Professor Emeritus George Hennings H’10, a longtime educator, steward and friend, who died on September 27 at the age of 94.

As part of the ceremony, a bench in his memoriam was placed in the garden adjacent to the Nancy Thompson Library that shared the same view Dr. Hennings had while pursuing his wife of nearly 50 years, Dorothy Grant Hennings H’10.

Presiding over the event were Rev. Emilie Boggis from the Unitarian Church at Summit, along with University President Dr. Dawood Farahi and Foundation Board President Steve Fastook H’06.

“Dr. Hennings was a cherished member of our community,” said President Farahi. “Although we will miss him, his legacy lives on in the many lives he touched over the years. It is said that as a couple they probably taught over 15,000 students. We are eternally grateful, George and Dorothy, for all that you have done and the dedication and commitment you have inspired in so many. On behalf of the entire Kean University community, thank you.”

Dr. Hennings was instrumental in fostering tremendous growth in the years following his first arrival to campus in 1960 when it was still called Newark State College. He taught for nearly three decades, established courses in astronomy and geology, developed the University’s program in science education for secondary science teachers, endowed the Hennings Lecture Series and served on both the University Senate and the Kean University Foundation.

Along with Dorothy, the World War II veteran transformed students’ lives by being a loyal steward of the Kean College of Education. Hennings Hall, where the College is located, was dedicated to the couple in 2005. In 2013, the couple received Kean’s inaugural William Livingston Award for their contributions and service to education.

Dr. Hennings will be sorely missed, but the imprint of his contributions will be felt for generations to come, and the intense sense of loyalty and passion for living and loving others will resonate in the hearts of those who knew him and will continue to do so in his memory.

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