By John Rossi, CC’86
More than 120 former cooperative living residents, current Helyar House residents and guests came together to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Helyar House on September 16, 2023. Attendees started the celebration at Helyar House, exploring the house in which they once lived as undergraduates and mingling with the current residents. The celebration moved to the 4-H Center in East Brunswick, where guests enjoyed dinner and reminiscing with friends and former housemates.
Executive Dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) Laura Lawson addressed the attendees. The late Dr. Bruce “Doc” Hamilton (AG’60) was honored and a plaque in his memory was presented and will be permanently displayed in Helyar House. Doc, a long-time champion of cooperative living at Rutgers, along with his wife Ellen (CC’78), were the first residence counselors at Helyar House. Their daughter, Mary Giro (CC’89), attended the presentation. In addition, SEBS Assistant Dean Joseph Ventola (SSW’92, GSED’08) received the inaugural Frank G. Helyar Special Friends of Helyar House Award in appreciation for his many years of exemplary commitment, service and contributions to cooperative living at Rutgers.
Helyar House alumni have always been very generous in donating to the various scholarships available to students. The combined Helyar House, Frank Golbey and Richard Merritt endowed scholarships are substantial endowments at SEBS. Each student receives savings and scholarships totaling about $9,000 per year. This includes the savings associated with the meal plan and housing in addition to the scholarships. There are also three scholarships that Helyar House students receive each year: the George and Jeanne Tice Scholarship, the Rose Grabania Tice Scholarship and a new Daniel and Alyce Rossi Endowed Scholarship, which starts in the 2024-25 academic year.
As part of the 55th anniversary event, alumni generously made contributions to enable all current house residents to attend the dinner at no charge and donated approximately $5,000 towards the Helyar House Scholarship Fund.
Helyar House is a Cooperative Living Community at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, but dates back to the 1930s at what was then called the College of Agriculture. Professor Frank Helyar started a work-study environment in which students of agriculture learned to live and work together while serving their college. This allowed students, often coming from large immigrant or farming families, to attend college and live on campus in exchange for work performed at the house and on campus. Fast forward to the 1960s, when former graduates and residents of various cooperative living units on campus raised $200,000 out of the $230,000 needed, to build what is now known as Helyar House. Dedicated on October 22, 1968, Helyar House is located on College Farm Road on the George H. Cook campus. Students still have the opportunity to earn scholarships for their work at the house and around campus.
It was a fantastic event enjoyed by all who attended. We look forward to seeing alumni at future Rutgers Day/Ag Field Day picnics and future anniversary celebrations.