EDISON — A building at Middlesex County College has been named for Billy Johnson, the late great-grandson of Robert Wood Johnson, and a benefactor of education. The building, formerly the Technical Services Center, houses the Department of Engineering Technologies, classrooms, engineering labs, faculty offices, and several administrative offices.
The honor is to recognize Betty Wold Johnson family’s support for Middlesex County College. In 2009, the family donated $1 million from the Willard T. C. Johnson Foundation; half of that was issued as a challenge. The MCC Foundation had to raise $500,000 from other donors, which was matched by the Johnson Foundation. So the effect of the gift was $1.5 million.
Mrs. Johnson’s contributions to the college have included personal gifts as well as funding through her foundation. This support has been instrumental in allowing thousands of students to attend Middlesex County College.
College President Joann La Perla-Morales thanked Johnson for her longstanding support of the College.
“In these economic challenging times, philanthropic support is needed more than ever before,” Dr. La Perla-Morales said. “It is not an exaggeration to say that the Willard T.C. Johnson Foundation, under the leadership of its chairman Mrs. Betty Wold Johnson, has been our single most generous donor. The Johnson Learning Center, the Johnson Commons, the newly funded Veterans Service Center, and now Billy Johnson Hall, attest to the support the College has received over the years. Middlesex County College boasts more than 47,000 alumni and, Mrs. Johnson, every one of those 47,000 alumni and their families have been touched in some way by your generosity.”
Johnson lovingly spoke of her late son and his concern for those less fortunate. When his will was opened after his death in 1975, his family discovered he wanted his inheritance to support education and the poor.
In addition, during the Sept. 23 ceremony, Johnson was named the 2011 L’Hommedieu Award winner at MCC. The award was originally scheduled to be presented in August at the Fall Convocation, but that was canceled because of Hurricane Irene.
The L’Hommedieu Award is named for Paige D. L’Hommedieu, the founding chairman of the College’s Board of Trustees, a humanitarian who worked tirelessly on behalf of his fellow citizens. It is presented annually by Middlesex County College to an individual who exemplifies those characteristics. The award was presented by Thomas Tighe, vice chairman of the college board.
“It is no exaggeration to say that her philanthropy has enriched the lives of hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of Americans,” Tighe said.
Johnson, who lives in Hopewell, is the widow of Robert Wood Johnson III and mother of Robert Wood Johnson IV, known as Woody, who owns the New York Jets football team.
“We are honored to have you here today to receive the L’Hommedieu Award for service to the community,” Tighe said. “Thank you for all you have done to support Middlesex County College. Your gifts have enriched the lives of countless students, and of generations yet to come.”
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