Henry Bartels' Million-Dollar Challenge

Bartels is urging fellow scull supporters on to secure the future of men's crew.

Bartels is urging fellow scull supporters on to secure the future of men's crew.

Henry Bartels, who rowed for both Rutgers and Cornell in the 1940s, has issued a stirring challenge to secure the future of men's crew at Rutgers: he will match up to $1 million in contributions to an endowment drive to fund the position of the men's crew coach. When the goal of $2 million is reached, men's crew will be the first sport at Rutgers with an endowment that permanently provides the coach's salary.

Known by his friends as Hank, Bartels traces his Rutgers roots to 1941, when he enrolled to study mechanical engineering. Two years later, he left to enlist in the military. After his discharge in 1945, Bartels decided to study industrial engineering. Since Rutgers did not offer the program, he enrolled at Cornell. Once again, he joined a crew team, and he met his wife, Nancy, in a music appreciation class. They graduated together in 1948 and married two months later. Putting his degree to good use in metalwork manufacturing, Bartels rose to become president of MMRM Industries in Meriden, Connecticut.

Since his retirement in 1984, Bartels has had more time to focus on philanthropy and his dedication to community and education. At Rutgers, Bartels has given generously to scholarship funds; he has also worked with his classmates to establish the Class of 1945 Crew Shell Endowment Fund. This fund provides monies, in perpetuity, for the purchase of a new eight-oared shell every five years.

Bartels proposed the concept of the coach's endowment after a similar approach at Cornell had great success. With the $1 million challenge he has issued, he hopes to galvanize support for endowing the coach's position at Rutgers, ensuring that men's crew will be a permanent and respected part of the Rutgers community.