Growing up in Long Branch, New Jersey, Robert B. Sculthorpe ’63, ’15HN had his sights set on Wall Street but little interest in attending college. Yet thanks to the gentle prodding of his mother, an Italian immigrant whose own formal education ended at the eighth grade but who understood the importance of attaining a college degree, he enrolled at Monmouth in the fall of 1956. After earning his B.S. in business administration, Sculthorpe, never short on gumption, bootstrapped his way to Wall Street, where he enjoyed a storied 35-year career at one of the world’s largest investment banks and financial services companies.
Despite his initial misgivings about college, Sculthorpe said he never forgot how fundamental his Monmouth education was to his professional success. So as his career drew to a close, he sought to give back to the University that had given him his start. He served on Monmouth’s Board of Trustees in various capacities for more than a decade, including four as chair. And through the years, he has funded a host of initiatives that have benefited students and enhanced the cultural and intellectual life on campus.
In recognition of Sculthorpe’s outstanding service and philanthropy to Monmouth University, President Patrick F. Leahy will present him with the first President’s Medal at this fall’s Founders Day Gala. The newly established event is Monmouth’s premier fundraising event of the year, and the President’s Medal represents the highest honor the University can bestow on an individual.
“I can think of no one more deserving of receiving the inaugural President’s Medal than Bob,” Leahy said. “His extraordinary leadership and support have provided countless opportunities for Monmouth students through the years, and I look forward to celebrating him this fall as part of our Founders Day Gala.”
A First-Generation Success Story
Sculthorpe said his youthful disinterest in college stemmed in part from not being “smart enough to see what lay ahead.” He assumed his ticket into the business world would come by way of working in his uncle’s clothing store. But his mother, Geraldine, who had come to America from Naples, Italy, as a child, had other ideas.
“She was a seamstress, but she was much more than that,” Sculthorpe explained. “She was almost a designer, really, and was quite successful in her own right, but she didn’t have the education to compete in that world. So she was always encouraging my brother, sister, and me to finish high school and go to college.”
Sculthorpe paid his own way through Monmouth by working multiple jobs, and when he graduated in 1963, he was the first in his family to earn a college degree. “It was a breakthrough for us,” he said.
He still had that glint in his eye toward Wall Street. “It always held a romantic place in my mind,” he said. “I had subscribed to The Wall Street Journal when I was in high school and loved reading about the markets.” But his first job out of college was selling insurance. He didn’t like the work or the product, and quickly moved into a corporate sales position with the H.J. Heinz Company. That was a better fit, “but I always kept an eye out to see if any of the Wall Street firms were looking for training program recruits,” he said.
After a few years, his persistence paid off when Dean Witter & Co., the former stock brokerage and securities firm, hired him. In those days, Wall Street was in many ways reserved for “elite” school graduates. “I certainly didn’t have the money or the ‘family legacy’ those guys had,” Sculthorpe said. But what he lacked in pedigree and connections he made up for with initiative and affability— qualities he inherited from his mother. “I’ve always been able to ‘meet people’ very easily and, no matter how tough it might be, make it work.”
Sculthorpe built a substantial business as a broker handling individual and institutional clients, and through the years worked his way up to become one of the most influential employees at the company. By the time Morgan Stanley acquired Dean Witter in 1997, Sculthorpe was director of its Institutional Equity Division. The merger created the world’s largest securities company at the time, and Sculthorpe’s role in it was chronicled in the Harvard Business Review.
At Morgan Stanley, Sculthorpe took responsibility for numerous business units, including Regional Management, Head of Global Private Wealth Management, Economic and Stock Market Research, and Institutional Equity Sales and Trading. When he retired in 2003, he was vice chairman and managing director of Morgan Stanley’s Private Client Group in London, responsible for all European, Middle East, and Asian private client businesses.
Reconnecting with Monmouth
Sculthorpe said he never forgot how “absolutely key” his Monmouth experience was to his success. Now free from the 50- to 60-hour workweeks that Wall Street demanded, he wanted to play a more active role at his alma mater.
He was elected to the University’s Board of Trustees the same year of his retirement and served as treasurer and vice chair before being elected chair in 2010, a position he held for four years. In 2016 he received trustee emeritus status. His long service with the board has given him the opportunity to work with several Monmouth presidents. “All organizations are measured by their leaders,” said Sculthorpe, who during his Wall Street days met with chief executives from around the world. “Good leadership is contagious. It’s what makes organizations great. And Monmouth has had some exceptional leaders in my view.”
Sculthorpe has particularly enjoyed the opportunity to interact with Monmouth students through the years, and it is they who have benefited most from his generosity. His support of Monmouth’s academic programs includes the establishment of the annual Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe Memorial Scholarship, which is named in honor of his late daughter and funds dozens of student research projects each year that make a positive impact in coastal communities. Many of those research experiences take place aboard Monmouth’s largest research vessel, also named in Heidi Lynn’s memory in recognition of another Sculthorpe gift that ensures the vessel’s seaworthiness.
A staunch supporter of the arts, Sculthorpe made a substantial donation to bring Metropolitan Opera programming to campus. He was also an early benefactor of the OceanFirst Bank Center, helping to launch construction of the facility that today serves as the area’s premier venue for large-scale concerts and shows and is home to several Monmouth athletics programs.
The list goes on and on. When asked what has inspired him to this level of service and support for Monmouth University, Sculthorpe unassumingly said, “I was raised a Catholic, so giving back has always been a part of who I am. And I always thought that to the degree I could help, I would.”
He will forever have a “soft spot” in his heart for his alma mater, he continued: “I was fortunate to find a career I really loved and was good at; that it paid well was a byproduct. But none of it would have been possible without my Monmouth degree.”