People gathered in a conference room with tables. There are display boards set up and the man in the center is gesturing. People are wearing Rep4 nametags.

GVSU and T4 supporter Anthony Manganaro dies

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Anthony Manganaro had a passion for education, regardless of where it happened. Manganaro, an East Coast entrepreneur and Grand Valley supporter, died August 20 at age 79.

He co-created and funded a breakthrough first-generation scholars program with President Philomena V. Mantella when she was at Northeastern University in Boston. With a shared passion for expanding the concept and Manganaro’s financial support, they brought a version of that program to Grand Valley shortly after Mantella arrived in 2019. The T4 Scholars program will support 40 first-generation college students with fullride scholarships to pursue and complete their college degree at GVSU.

Manganaro was also drawn to REP4 and its cross-country alliance of institutions as a mechanism for scaling impact. His vision was taking the T4 Scholarship program to new heights at GVSU and bringing it across the REP4 alliance.

Mantella described Manganaro as a “man of great vision, humanity and generosity,” who graciously created avenues for first-generation college students, like himself. Manganaro earned a degree from Northeastern University. He was a successful serial entrepreneur with diverse interests and a passion for life. In recent years he developed a passion for the science of breeding race horses, including a partnership in Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year Flightline. He was a co-owner of Siena Farms, a thoroughbred horse farm.

“The most recent chapter in my journey with Anthony was a focus on and passion for the opportunity for technology to enable access and equity. He, along with Jim Hackett and other visionaries, has inspired opportunities catalyzed by advancements in AI and XR,” Mantella said.

Hackett, former CEO of Steelcase and former president and CEO of Ford, said Manganaro was an “extraordinary visionary.”

“Anthony was wholly dedicated to crafting a front-runner model for innovation in higher education, with learners at the very core, guiding their own transformative journey,” said Hackett, who spoke at Grand Valley’s commencement in April. “His unwavering candor and limitless imagination propelled our work into a future beyond conventional boundaries.”

Six people, all wearing GVSU shirts except one who is wearing a suit. They smile for the camera. Wood paneling in the background.

Anthony Manganaro is pictured with T4 Scholar Summ Mung and his family.

Summ Mung is a T4 Scholarship recipient from Battle Creek. Now a sophomore at Grand Valley, Mung called Manganaro “a guiding light.”

“I’m truly saddened to hear about this loss,” Mung said. “Anthony’s generosity as my scholarship donor has been a guiding light for me. His support not only enabled me to pursue my education but also inspired me to dream bigger and work harder. His legacy will forever shape my path as I strive to make the most of the opportunities his kindness has provided.”

Mantella said Manganaro’s family joined him in his support of educational pursuits. “As a family, they have supported educational opportunities for hundreds of college students,” she said. “Grounded in Anthony’s own experience as the first person in his family to attend college, they have humbly served as models of the success that is possible when we focus on what’s right and open ourselves up to possibility.”

Nicole D’Amore is Manganaro’s daughter and serves as managing trustee for the family’s foundation. D’Amore called her father a problem solver who deeply believed in the power of education and wanted to help everyone achieve their goals.

“At Grand Valley, I remember when we met the students and their families before they were accepted into the T4 Scholars program,” D’Amore said. “It was his favorite thing, to sit with them and their families to talk about their dreams, always with an eye on the big picture.

“The notes and emails we have received from people around the world about his passing mean the world to us. It’s incredible to think about all the ways he has touched people.”

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