In the morning ceremony of this year's commencement ceremonies held in The Theater at Madison Square Garden, BMCC President Antonio Pérez presented this year’s Presidential Medal to Stephen J. Meringoff, President of the Meringoff Family Foundation.
Since 1978, Stephen Meringoff has navigated the storms of New York City’s real estate market, the president said as he presented the medal.
Today, Meringoff serves as a co-managing partner of Himmel Plus Meringoff Properties, and as chairman of its property management affiliate, Meringoff Properties, Inc. Together with his business partner, Leslie Wohlman Himmel, he owns and operates a portfolio with a market value in excess of $1 billion of New York office and retail properties.
“Throughout his impressive career, Stephen’s vision has prevailed—and he never lost site of how an economy, how the real estate industry itself, reflects people’s lives on a very personal level,” President Pérez said, adding that Meringoff has improved the lives of hundreds of New York City students.
As a board member of the non-profit organization PENCIL, Meringoff created PENCIL Fellows, an internship program that places high school students in paid summer internships with companies including CB Richard Ellis, HBO, JPMorgan Chase and JetBlue Airways.
He also serves on the board of the Reading Team, a nonprofit in Harlem that teaches kids to read using computer-based learning programs.
Generous Gifts to BMCC
In connection with a 2013 event at BMCC, the Steinway Soiree, Stephen Meringoff contributed a Steinway piano to BMCC’s music department.
“Stephen agrees with me, that our students deserve the best,” said President Pérez.
“That means, the best musical equipment. The best science labs. The best professors and best academic experience possible.”
Another generous donation from Stephen Meringoff and the Meringoff Family Foundation, and which was matched by Jay Lieberman and the Derfner Foundation, will make it possible for BMCC to expand its Out in Two program over the next few years.
Out-in-Two scholarships make it possible for students to work fewer hours at jobs outside of school, and focus on their studies. The scholarships also help defray the cost of textbooks, transportation to campus and other expenses. Over 90% of BMCC’s Out-in-Two scholars graduate in two years and go on to four-year colleges, a dramatically higher rate than the national average.
Believing in student talent
As he accepted the Presidential Medal, Meringoff commented, “In all my years working in the real estate market in New York City, I have seen many changes. But one thing that remains the same is that each generation of young people brings a new wave of talent and energy to their neighborhoods, their career fields, and the City itself.”
He shared with the audience of graduates and their family and friends, “two of our children have taken courses at BMCC … and the dedication and commitment to excellence that I’ve seen at the college motivated me to contribute to BMCC, especially to the Out in Two program.”
Meringoff has worked with hundreds of young people, he told the class of 2015, “and I believe passionately in our City and in the international community you are going to return to. Congratulations for everything you have accomplished.”