Murray Pasternack, a former resident of Franklin Square never could have imagined he would be in a position to donate millions back to his alma mater Farmingdale State College to help students. Sixty-four years after graduating with an associate of of applied science in electrical technology degree in 1960, Pasternack has donated more than $2.5 million to the college.
He recently donated $750,000 to the college’s School of Business to build the ‘Murray Pasternack ’60 Finance and Trading Room.’ The gift will help advance student’s financial education — something that Pasternack believes is crucial. During his time at the college between 1958 and 1960, Pasternack says he got a good education.
“The thing I was lacking was good personal financial experience,” he said. “We graduated from school without having the knowledge of how to balance a check book or how to buy a stock or bond.”
When the opportunity came up to thank the school for his education there, Pasternack felt it was imperative to help other students gain knowledge about finance for their own personal and professional growth.
When he visited the school in 2022, Pasternack saw a piece of equipment that had been at the college when he attended it. He made a comment about the piece of equipment to a professor who said they lacked the funds to improve the lab, and that they would love to do something to improve it. Pasternack asked how much they needed, and made a $1.4 million donation to help improve the program with the ‘Murray Pasternack ’60 Lab for Radio Frequency and Technology.’
“Like every great engineer and philanthropist, Murray identifies opportunities to ‘fix things’ or make them better and sees giving as a tool to propel the College forward,” Vice President of Development and Alumni Engagement at Farmindale State College Matthew Colson said in a statement.
Pasternack grew up in Manhattan and moved to Franklin Square when he was 14 years old. He attended high school in the Sewanhaka school district, and graduated from H. Frank Carey High School. His mother was a stay-at-home mom, and his father was a union plumber in New York City.
In 1957 when the Soviet Union sent the first artificial satellite Sputnik-1 into space, Pasternack’s guidance counselor encouraged him to pursue a career in engineering. He applied to Farmingdale State College, where he received a two-year education. To pay for his education, Pasternack worked nights and weekends.
“That’s a horrible way to go through school,” he said. “So, what I’m doing is I’m giving money to qualified students so they don’t have to do that —so they can be students full-time.”
Pasternack has given two $500,000 gifts to support the Murray Pasternack Endowed Scholarship in Engineering as part of the college’s Honors Program. It helps 20 students annually, providing “funds for research opportunities, intercollegiate academic competitions, attendance at professional conferences and travel expenses to participate in competitive and prestigious internships,” according to the college. Of all the donations that Pasternack has made, he feels the scholarships are the most valuable.
“I’ve talked to a couple of (the students), and they greatly appreciate what I’ve done,” Pasternack said. “And that puts a smile on my face.”
Throughout his life, Pasternack worked several jobs and pursued education in various areas. He started out as a technician working for Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, worked several other jobs throughout Long Island and had spent ten years working as an engineer and studying economics and applied physics at Hoftsra University.
In January 1972, he founded Pasternack Enterprises with $600 in California. The company supplies radio frequency and microwave components globally. Twenty years after its founding, he sold the company for $89 million. Pasternack initially started the company to put himself through law school.
He attended night classes at American College of Law between 1972 and 1976, where he earned a bachelor’s of science degree in 1974 and a juris doctor degree in 1976. From there, he became an attorney and worked in both the law and electronics business for years before he retired from both. He then started Capital Bank, which he directed from 2008 through 2017.
While life took many turns for Pasternack, he believes that if people learn from their mistakes early on, they will be successful.
“You make choices at intersections about which way you’re going to go, and I was fortunate that I made the right choices,” Pasternack said.