William "Bill" Dwyer, who works as a teaching instructor in the School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR), is gifting $50,000 to the University to establish a certificate program on negotiation and conflict resolution, which were skills Dwyer acquired at his old job. In addition, the Dwyer family will leave a significant portion of their estate to Rutgers, which is valued at approximately $3 million, according to Rutgers Today.
In the early 1980s, Dwyer was working for the Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) as a meter reader for electric and gas meters, but said he had a bad boss. While he loved the job because he was able to interact with customers, he claimed that his supervisor had a short temper. Once, Dwyer's boss even humiliated one of his co-workers in public for a mistake.
“He laced into this employee on a tirade,” Dwyer said, taking a deep breath as he recalled the moment. “This employee started to cry. This is a grown man, and he actually started to cry. He was so humiliated.”
Due to the incident, Dwyer decided he wanted to change the way employees were treated in the workplace. His father suggested he become management instead of trying to fix it, which was why Dwyer enrolled in the Labor Studies and Employment Relations program at the University while he was still working at PSEG.
Dwyer found that the job was something he enjoyed.
“I’d come here at night and I’d learn about new approaches to collective bargaining and new ways in which labor and management could work together, and then apply that the next day at work,” he said.
In 1993, Dwyer earned his bachelor's degree in labor studies. Four years later in 1997, he also completed his master's degree in labor and industrial relations. He then became a supervisor himself, eventually moving on to become the manager of labor relations and employee relations for the entire workforce at PSEG, which was comprised of approximately 12,000 people.
Dwyer said he treated his employees with respect, and saw how customer service and efficiency improved as a result. In 2013, he retired from the company after working there for nearly 37 years.
Later that same year, he became a teaching instructor at the School of Management and Labor Relations.
“I look around in faculty meetings, I have to pinch myself,” he said. “It’s like, ‘How did I get here?’ I’m surrounded by some of the people who taught me.”
He estimates that in the six years he has taught at the University, he has worked with more than 2,400 students. He also founded the first student chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association, served as president of the School of Management and Labor Relations Alumni Association and had the opportunity to speak at multiple convocations.
“He’s the best professor I’ve ever had,” said Thomas Costello IV, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “He’s always there when I need advice, even if it has nothing to do with his class. I wouldn’t have gotten my first internship or my first job without his guidance.”
Even when he no longer works as a teacher, Dwyer hopes to continue helping students.
“No other factor has had as much of an influence on my career and my success as the School of Management and Labor Relations,” Dwyer said. “So we’re going to give something back that is pretty substantial so that others can experience what I was fortunate enough to experience.”
Thus, he and his family plan on giving $50,000 to the University for a new certificate program, which is the largest gift in the history of the School of Management and Labor Relations.
“Bill and Lois Dwyer’s gift will have a tremendous impact on our school, today and in the future,” School of Management and Labor Relations Dean Adrienne Eaton said. “The certificate program will provide students with life skills that are critically important in nearly any profession, while the legacy gift will enable SMLR to award scholarships to students in need and support faculty and programs centered on conflict resolution and negotiation.”
Nevin Kessler, president of Rutgers University Foundation, also expressed support for the Dwyers' donation.
“The tremendous support Bill and Lois have shown through their philanthropy really reflects the extraordinary engagement Bill has had with Rutgers over many years," he said. "It’s inspiring to see the Dwyers taking yet another step to prepare the next generation of leaders in his field.”
Dwyer said the boss from his past had passed away many years ago, but is now remembered as an inspirational figure. He even keeps a picture of his former boss in his office.
“Every night when I leave work, I look at that picture and I say, ‘Thanks,’” Dwyer said. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him.”