University at Albany

Why I Give

Matt Reilly, MA ’90
Program Research Specialist III
New York State Education Department

What motivates you to give to Rockefeller College and the University at Albany?

The financial support to pursue this career choice, a career I love, by the way and have no regrets about pursuing, was invaluable.  I received a half-grad assistantship (then valued at $4,400 if memory serves me right) to support Prof. Sally Friedman in her political science research.  I had my doubts truth be told, whether I could do some of the coursework: I had been away from higher ed for 4 years.  I was doing my first computing, learning statistical software programming at the same time I was taking my first statistics class (although I had something of an economics background having worked in the life and health insurance industry in the interim between grad and undergrad).  Prof. Friedman was very supportive telling me ‘I can do it’.  And with the assistantship I could eat better and healthier, enjoy a meal out, or hear some bands on Lark Street and afford a nice apartment close to the College, as a diversion from the work and study stress.  By mid-November of my first semester I knew I could not just do it but succeed at it.  But the tough, demanding coursework with the tight deadlines was absolutely essential as well.  Support, but not ‘coddling’ by the College: it prepared me well for what I would deal with over the course of public service career.      

How do you hope your gifts will benefit students and the College?

Internships, particularly for students of modest and lower means, as I was able to attend a great private college here in New York because of TAP (tuition assistance program), a Pell Grant, the NYS Regents scholarship and a private scholarship from the college.  Without this private and public subsidy I am not sure how I would have been able to attend.  As a result I came out of undergrad with little debt and this was very freeing psychologically, particularly at a time when NYS was in recession and jobs were few for humanities students and generalists, which I was at that time.

What would you say to a fellow alumnus who may be ‘on the fence’ with respect to supporting a State school?

I would say that the support is necessary.  I am an education economist in my present job and a strong literature has developed which finds that robust competition between the private and public sectors in education as in many sectors or markets overall, has a synergistic effect and makes them both better (and to successfully compete, the public sector needs investment)!

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