Giving Begins at Home for Retired NJ Council of County Colleges President Lawrence Nespoli


WEST WINDSOR – While some individuals turn to philanthropic giving after a life-changing event or in response to a dire societal need, for Dr. Lawrence Nespoli, a career educator and the recently-retired president of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC), it’s something embedded in his DNA. Add this to his familiarity with the importance of community colleges in general and the specific role Mercer County Community College (MCCC) plays in providing an accessible, affordable education, the MCCC Foundation was a logical choice for a very special gift.

“My family’s story is deeply personal, as to why we wanted to start a scholarship at Mercer,” Nespoli said. “Just a few short weeks after I retired, my wife of 40 years died unexpectedly. Debbie was the heart and soul of our family, and we simply could not think of a better way to honor her life and memory that by starting a scholarship in her name.”

When he says scholarship, Nespoli could have easily said a series of scholarships, starting with the statewide Deborah and Lawrence Nespoli Scholarship. The first scholarship from this fund was awarded to a Passaic County Community College student in 2019. But as a long-time resident of Mercer County and with many personal connections to MCCC, he believed it was important to give something back to an institution that served as a tremendous resource for his family over the years.

“Mercer County Community College played an important role in our family during our children’s growing up years and then into their college years as well,” Nespoli said. “Both our son and daughter attended many summer camp youth activities at MCCC, and both took MCCC courses almost every summer to stay on pace in their college studies at Rutgers and Penn State. It was a no-brainer for us to start the Deborah and Lawrence Nespoli Scholarship Fund at MCCC.”

With an initial gift of $5,000, Nespoli set up a named scholarship for MCCC students, but decided to take things one step further – he also set up a $25,000 bequest, naming MCCC the beneficiary upon his passing. This gift will provide the funding for an endowed scholarship in perpetuity.

“Not just at MCCC and not just in New Jersey, but throughout the country community colleges are under great financial pressures,” Nespoli said. “So there simply has never been a better time for individuals – and businesses – to do what they can to financially support community colleges.”

Nespoli joins a growing number of contributors to the MCCC Foundation, which has seen its endowment grow to nearly $12 million, up by more than 35 percent in the past five years. That, he said, is a very positive sign.

“The good news is that more and more people are understanding and appreciating the community college role in their local communities, and they are hearing the call to support them financially,” Nespoli said.

In recognition of the challenges facing community colleges, Nespoli also contributes to the cause through his deeds, having accepted a position as a member of the MCCC Board of Trustees following his retirement from NJCCC. Nespoli encourages others to engage in similar actions, noting that as more individuals come to appreciate the important role community colleges play in our educational system, the ultimate beneficiaries are the students who can begin their academic journey in a manner that is accessible and affordable.

“Community colleges are a uniquely American institution, and what they do for local communities is truly impressive – amazing, really,” Nespoli said. “I can tell you from my prior statewide experience as president of the NJCCC, Mercer’s programs have long been among the finest in the state.

“For these reasons and probably a thousand more, community colleges are key assets in our local communities, and are very deserving of our local support.”

For more information on the MCCC Foundation or to learn about ways of giving to support the college’s scholarship program, visit








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Dr. Lawrence Nespoli (right) and daughter Lauren (left) with Adrianna Estrada-Arriola, the first recipent of the Deborah and Lawrence Nespoli Scholarship at Mercer County Community College.