Professor Emeritus Bob Pugh Continues Commitment to Mercer County Community College Students with Endowed Scholarship


West Windsor, N.J. – Robert (“Bobby”) Pugh, Professor Emeritus at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), is grateful for many things – especially the experiences he had during his teaching and coaching career at MCCC. Pugh retired in 2018 after 46 years as a professor in the college's Division of Science and Health Professions and coordinator for Health and Fitness.

Pugh and his wife, Brenda, have established an endowed scholarship that marks their continued support of the institution that has given them so much. The Robert and Brenda Pugh Scholarship will be awarded annually to a continuing full-time MCCC student (sophomore) studying Exercise Science, Health Professions, or Education.

This is just one more chapter in Pugh’s extraordinary story of service to MCCC. He has been hailed as the “heart and soul” of health, wellness and physical fitness at the college, helping thousands of students physically and mentally through exercise.

In recognition of his contributions, the college renamed its fitness center in Pugh’s honor in 2019. The Robert L. Pugh Fitness Center boasts 20 new pieces of equipment, along with shock resistant flooring and new lighting, thanks to a fundraising campaign spearheaded by Pugh.

A local Hamilton resident, Pugh works out regularly at the center that now bears his name. “I am proud of this facility,” he said. “It’s clean and well-maintained. The staff is doing an excellent job.”

According to John Simone, MCCC Athletics Director and Assistant Dean for Student Services, Pugh has left an indelible mark at the college. “Bob has been the most significant mentor in Mercer history – to our college presidents, faculty, staff, and most especially to our students,” Simone said. “To this day, Bob’s most frequent comment is, “If you need anything, let me know.’”

Clearly, MCCC remains close to Pugh’s heart. “Mercer has a special place in my life. I met a lot of people, made a lot of friends, and worked with a lot of students,” he said. “I enjoyed my years as a teacher and my relationships with colleagues and students. The 46 years zipped by.”

Pugh’s belief in Mercer students was cemented early on. “I learned that students want to succeed but sometimes face challenges that make it harder for them. They would be working two or three jobs. Sometimes they couldn’t afford the textbook; I bought a lot of textbooks for students over the years,” he recalls.

Pugh was also influential outside the classroom. For most of the 1970s, he was an assistant coach for men’s basketball under legendary head coach Howie Landa, including the 1973 and 1974 seasons when the Vikings claimed the national title.

Pugh pushed his players to attend class and stay in school. He also let them know that he cared about their futures. “We did little things,” he recalled. “Brenda would make them bag lunches when they went to away game. The whole athletics staff pitched in.”

According to Pugh, those little acts of kindness made a huge difference. “I saw how much it meant to students to get a helping hand. It let them know we believed in them. Many thanked me when they graduated.

Pugh emphasizes that he had his own cheer squad: his wife of 48 years. “Brenda was the backbone of everything I did. I wouldn't have had the success I did without her unwavering support, love and willingness to roll up her sleeves. She brought wisdom and creativity to every project.”

According to Pugh, MCCC became a family affair. “We raised three beautiful daughters, and Mercer became like a second home to them. They attended summer camp and, as they got older, worked at the fitness center and took college classes,” he said.

“I always thought that if I were in the position to be able to help out more, I was going to do it. This scholarship is a way to continue to help students advance, first by getting their associate degree and then going on for their bachelor’s,” Pugh said, adding that he is looking forward to meeting the recipients of his scholarship at awards events hosted by the MCCC Foundation.

In addition to his work with students, Pugh served as MCCC’s Faculty Association president for 15 years. In 2016, he was selected for the college’s Distinguished Teaching Award, an honor bestowed annually at Commencement based on nominations by students and fellow professors.

Pugh has also been honored with several awards for his decades of work with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) in recognition of his outstanding contributions to high school basketball as a rules interpreter and referee assigner. He continues to assign DIII games for the NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference).

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Brenda and Bob Pugh

Bob Pugh and his wife of 48 years, Brenda, continue to give back to Mercer, “a special place in my life” that has given them so much.

The Pugh Family

“We raised three beautiful daughters, and Mercer became like a second home to them,” says Pugh, pictured at MCCC's Robert L. Pugh Fitness Center named in his honor.