Gantz has provided the gift of opportunity to help East Stroudsburg University undergraduate students in need

John Gantz

The Gift of Opportunity

Following a distinguished 40-year career in the field of military voluntary education, Dr. John Gantz made a significant contribution to ESU to help undergraduate students in need.

By Susan Field

East Stroudsburg University gave Dr. John Gantz the opportunity to succeed. College wasn’t easy for Gantz, a 1963 graduate, as he balanced multiple jobs with his coursework. When he graduated with a degree in geography, he felt great pride in his achievement and more importantly—the inspiration to continue to succeed.

Gantz went on to lead a long and distinguished career in the field of military voluntary education, earned his doctorate degree, and was appointed Chief of Troops to Teachers, a Department of Defense program, a position he held for more than 12 years.

Gantz’s desire to provide students the opportunity to succeed in college without the financial burden led to consistent donations to ESU over the years, and a $50,000 contribution to the ESU Foundation in 2019 to establish a Charitable Gift Annuity.

“My success at ESU gave me the ingredients to be successful at other things. If my contribution can help other students be successful, then it’s well worth the contribution,” said Gantz, a member of The 1893 Society, and recipient of the Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008. “ESU gave me the opportunity to start my career, and I wanted to contribute to help other people do the same.”

Growing up in Shrewsbury in York County, about five miles from the Maryland border, Gantz was one of three children. His grandmother taught at a one-room schoolhouse in a nearby rural town. Gantz remembers going to the schoolhouse and thinking that teaching would be a good career to pursue one day.

When it was time for Gantz to enroll in college, he looked for a good teacher’s college and decided upon ESU. He majored in geography because after living during World War II and the Korean War, he was fascinated with the world and wanted to learn more.

Gantz had to pay his own way through college and found it challenging to balance school and working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

He worked as a garbage collector on Saturday mornings, in the auditorium on campus managing the lighting for plays and events, and had several other jobs, including as a waiter and bartender.

Gantz has great memories of Eugene “Puffer” Martin, the dean of men, Dr. Harold Creveling, one of his best geography professors, and Sumner F. Bossler Jr., the business manager on campus, who

helped Gantz and nine others start Sigma Pi, Beta-Psi Chapter, the first nationally recognized Greek social fraternity at ESU, in 1961.

“The idea of establishing a social fraternity on campus was because everyone went home on weekends at that time—unless there was a football game. We wanted to create more of a social life on campus,” Gantz said. “Getting it established was an interesting experience. There was a lot of opposition. Mr. Bosler had a great deal of influence helping us show the administration that it was a good idea.”

Gantz, who resides in Towson, Md., still stays in touch with his fraternity brothers. He returned to ESU for Homecoming this fall, attended the Alumni Dinner, and visited the Sigma Pi fraternity house.

Soon after graduating from ESU, Gantz was drafted into the Army. After serving in the infantry for two years at Fort Dix, N.J., he taught math and science to disadvantaged students at the Job Corps in New Jersey.

Gantz continued his civil service career as an education counselor with the U.S. Army Continuing Education System (ACES) at Fort Belvoir, Va. In this role, he helped those in the military and their spouses finish their high school education, apply to colleges, and plan toward a civilian career.

Over the next 20 years, as education advisor to military personnel and their spouses, Gantz worked on military bases around the world in South Korea; Washington, D.C.; Vicenza, Italy; Atlanta, Ga.; Heidelberg, Germany; and Pensacola, Fla. He held the titles of education specialist, Director of Education, U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, and Deputy Director of the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES), among others.

“They were delightful experiences,” said Gantz of living abroad. “Italy, in particular, is such a fabulous country. The food was amazing and the people were great. I still stay in touch with my neighbors there.”

While living in Germany in the mid-1980s, Gantz began his doctorate of education degree through the University of Southern California, which sent professors to the military bases. He completed his degree in 1992 after six months studying on campus in Los Angeles, Calif.

In 1993, Gantz was appointed chief of the new Troops to Teachers program, a national initiative that focused on providing training to retiring and separating military personnel to begin second careers as public school teachers. The program was so successful that Gantz became nationally recognized as an expert in teaching as a second career for adults. His work was acknowledged by then First Lady Laura Bush, a former teacher, who took interest in the program. Bush collaborated with Gantz to gain public support for Troops to Teachers.

“I accompanied her on a number of trips to bases,” Gantz said. “She was really valuable in helping promote the program and have it accepted by the public education community.”

For Gantz, who has been retired since 2015, giving back to ESU feels full circle.

“I struggled through college. If I can provide some funding to help others who are struggling, then it’s worth it,” Gantz said. “I’m glad the money is being used for a good purpose.”

A charitable gift annuity is a gift made to the ESU Foundation that can provide you with a secure source of fixed payments for life. Upon establishing a charitable gift annuity, the donor receives fixed gift annuity payouts, and the ESU Foundation receives the remainder after all payouts have been made. If you decide to fund your gift annuity with cash, a significant portion of the annuity payment will be tax-free. You may also make a gift of appreciated securities to fund a gift annuity and avoid a portion of the capital gains tax.

Please contact us to learn more and to inquire about other assets that you might be able to use to fund a charitable gift annuity at the ESU Foundation.