University of the Sciences Emeritus Trustee and former Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Delbert S. Payne passed away on Monday, May 30, 2011. Dr. Payne, who had served on the USciences board since 1990 and chair since 2000, had previously announced his retirement on April 29, 2011. He was elected emeritus trustee at the May 12, 2011, board meeting and recently presented the honorary degree recipients at USciences’ Commencement on May 25, 2011, as his last official act as chairman.
“In a life time there are only a few names that transcend into an era. Del Payne, however, is the name of a man who will remain a forever and sustaining mention,” said USciences President Dr. Philip P. Gerbino. “His mark will endure for generations. His love of life, of family, of people, of education, and of helping others will endure as an example of “the finest of men,” a gentleman’s gentleman, a mentor, a statesman, a colleague, and my friend. We are all so blessed to have had the honor to work with and know him, and be the fortunate recipients of his wisdom, guidance, and advice. I will miss him so.”
Dr. Payne earned a bachelor's degree with honors in chemistry from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1952 and then a master's in organic chemistry from University of Pennsylvania in 1964. A veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, he attended graduate school under the U.S. Army's civilian schooling program with additional graduate work in management and business from George Washington University in 1972. Following a 20-year career in the military, Dr. Payne joined the Rohm and Haas Company in 1972 where he was the director of human resources at the Bristol, Pa., plant and later manager of corporate social investment before retiring in 1996.
While chair of USciences’ board, he helped steer the University's dynamic growth from a single college with 1,630 students, to a vibrant university with five colleges and 3,000 students. In addition to his chairmanship at USciences, he was chair of the board of the Education Opportunity Fund of the New Jersey Department of Higher Education as well as the Philadelphia Education Fund and Glassboro State College (now Rowan University).
Dr. Payne received an honorary doctor of humanities from Glassboro State College in May 1990. USciences has honored his dedication to the University with the naming of The Delbert S. Payne Lobby in September 2010 in the University's iconic Griffith Hall and with the establishment of The Delbert S. Payne Endowed Scholarship in April 2010 to benefit one African-American student in financial need at the University each year.
“I considered Del to be a colleague, role model, and dear friend, and I am grateful that he was part of my life,” said USciences Board Chairman Marvin Samson. “Del was a gentleman and a gentle man, with a kind word for everyone and a belief that educating our youth is fundamental to the future of families, communities, and our nation. And he lived this conviction, with every fiber of his being.”
Dr. Payne was a resident of Willingboro, N.J., and is survived by his wife Altona, son Harry, and daughter Patricia in addition to nieces, nephews, Godchildren, and other relatives and friends.
A viewing will be held on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, from 9 to 10:45 a.m. at the Tabernacle Baptist Church (150 E. 2nd St., Burlington, N.J. 08016) followed by a service at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The American Cancer Society, 1851 Old Cuthbert Road, Cherry Hill, N.J. 08034.