• Community Engagement

Scarlet couple honors Milt Heumann and helps students

Rutgers Professor Milt Heuman (center) with his erstwhile students, newlyweds Scott and and Irene Weber.

Rutgers Professor Milt Heuman (center) with his erstwhile students, newlyweds Scott and and Irene Weber.

Scott Weber was out celebrating the completion of his honors thesis when he ran into some fellow Rutgers students.

One of them, junior Irene Lubawy, he remembered from a criminal justice class they had taken with Professor Milton Heumann.

“Two hours into having drinks,” Weber recalls now of that evening in May 1990, “I went into the bathroom, threw some cold water on my face, looked in the mirror and said to myself: ‘You just met the woman you are going to marry.’”

But the two parted without exchanging phone numbers. So, Weber went to Heumann and asked if he could put him in touch with Lubawy.

He may have stretched the truth a bit when he spoke to the professor, according to Irene.

“He told Milt that I took a book from him, and didn’t give it back, that he needed to reach me,” she said.

It ended well. The couple were engaged less than a year later and married in 1992, with Heumann attending the wedding and regaling wedding guests with the story of how the couple became acquainted.

“I have been telling that story for years,” said Heumann, a Distinguished Professor of Political Science in the School of Arts and Sciences and a Rutgers University faculty member for more than four decades.

But the story doesn’t end there. 

The Webers have long seen Heumann as an influential figure in their lives: a compelling teacher, accomplished legal scholar, and a mentor who helped guide Scott along the path toward law school and a career as an attorney.

“There is an authenticity, a sincerity, and a passion that he has that is present in everything he does,” said Scott RC’90, who majored in political science and English and earned his law degree from Boston College Law School.

Milton Heumann

Milton Heumann is a Distinguished Professor of Political Science who has influenced generations of Rutgers students.

“Best teacher I ever had, hands down,” added Irene, RC’91 who majored in political science and economics, earned an MBA from Rutgers Business School, and worked in accounting and investment banking.

Now the couple has found a way to honor Heumann while supporting current Rutgers students. Through a gift to the Rutgers Foundation, they have established the Milton Heumann Excellence in Undergraduate Education Endowment, which will provide financial support for eligible students in the political science department who are seeking beyond-the-classroom experience doing internships or attending academic conferences.

Scott said such off-campus activities are crucial to students exploring career paths.

“The classroom experience is wonderful, but to be able to interact with people who are doing what you are interested in doing, and to hear from them what it’s really like, that’s essential,” Scott said.

Both Webers worked their way through college and graduate school and are mindful of how difficult it is for cash-strapped students to do an unpaid internship or travel to a conference. Scott interned at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington D.C. in the summer after his junior year – an invaluable experience, but one he had to pay for with his own money.

“If we are able to support students who otherwise can’t do that unpaid internship, that is a very important goal,” Scott said.

Heumann agreed.

“The undergraduates I’ve had over the years have been spectacular,” Heumann said. “I’ve always thought that we have a really first-rate, classy program, and the culture should be that if students need support for an internship, or a conference, or research, we should be providing that support.”

Heumann joined Rutgers in 1981, and his teaching and research on criminal justice and civil liberties have influenced generations of students. And not just at Rutgers. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson cited Heumann’s research extensively in her undergraduate honors thesis at Harvard College.

Heumann is also an indefatigable mentor, organizing annual events like the Careers in the Law Panel, and the Evangelides Lecture Series that introduces students to top scholars and practitioners in the legal world.

Scott Weber, who entered Rutgers laser-focused on becoming a lawyer, said Heumann combined deep scholarship with an engaging, witty classroom presence that fostered lively discussion.

“There wasn’t another class I have been in where students were as engaged, participating as frequently, hands up all time, literally class after class,” Scott said.

Irene sat two rows behind Scott in the criminal justice class, noticing Scott often speaking up, raising counterarguments to Heumann’s positions.

“That class was packed, and everybody wanted to be there,” she said.

When Scott approached Heumann with the idea of doing an honors thesis on the US sentencing guidelines, Heumann warned him that it would require a major commitment.

When Scott turned in his thesis, Heumann was stunned.

“He turned in something well over 200 pages,” he said. “I still keep it in my office to show students what an outstanding thesis looks like.”

Scott has enjoyed a successful career, which included stints working under former U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff when he was heading up the U. S. Department of Homeland Security, and earlier, during a special counsel investigation into racial profiling in New Jersey.

Now a partner at the global firm of DLA Piper, Scott handles complex litigation, cybersecurity, and data privacy.

He still has to contend with the occasional ribbing by Heumann. Weber recalls when he was working as a general counsel, Heumann dropped by his office.

“Milt walked in and said: ‘Mr. Weber this is the biggest office I have seen; how did someone like you get a job like this?”’

The two remain close. When Weber’s mother died last year, Heumann paid a condolence call.

And when the Webers were considering a gift to Rutgers, they knew it had to involve Heumann.

“After my parents and Irene, the person who has had the most profound impact on my life, who I owe so many of my blessings to, is Milt,” Scott said. “Without Milt, there is no Irene, no kids, and there is no career."

Irene adds: “The hope is that this fund will speak volumes about the many thousands of lives Milt has touched in a meaningful way; and will continue to do so in perpetuity."

 

Scott and Irene Weber with their children, Michael and Alexandra, as the couple renewed their vows on their 30th anniversary.

Rutgers alums Scott and Irene Weber celebrate their 30th anniversary with their children, Michael and Alexandra

 For more information on the Milton Heumann Excellence in Undergraduate Education Fund, click here.