York College grad dedicates 80th birthday to fund student start-ups

Norman Weinstock and York College President Pamela Gunter-Smith at the York Junior College reunion in October 2018.

Norman Weinstock is dedicating his 80th birthday party to everyone who played an important part in his life — and chief among those players is York College.

Weinstock graduated from then-York Junior College in 1958, and it set him on the path for his whole career in business.

As a thank you, he's asking for his March 9 party solely for donations to the Weinstock Student Venture Investment Fund — a new project designed to support student start-ups.

"I wanted to have 80 people for my 80 years," Weinstock said of his bash, which will include many of his friends in business — some coming from the West coast or overseas to celebrate with him —  but he ended up with a guest list of 102.

Some friendships and relationships span 40 years, he said, and it "all started with York."

Launching point: Weinstock was first accepted at Penn State University — where he eventually completed his undergraduate degree — but an adviser recommended he go to York Junior College for a couple of years to figure out what he wanted to do.

After a year of civil engineering, he realized, "it was not my forte" and switched to business.

"I’ll never thank them enough for that," he said. 

York College community members align for a "50" formation during the school's 50th Anniversary Kick-Off Party for the campus community Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. Several anniversary events are planned during the week. Bill Kalina photo

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It set him on a long and successful trajectory, including 23½ years at York-based dental supply company Dentsply International followed by a partnership with Henry Schein — a worldwide distributor of medical, dental and veterinary supplies.

He used that success to give back to the school over the years, including helping to secure $500,000 for a NASDAQ trading lab.

Investing in the future: About a year and a half ago, James Norrie, dean of the college's Graham School of Business, came to a board meeting for Weinstock's Arlington, Virginia-based cyber security company PUNCH looking to arrange student internships.

It was then that they came up with the idea for the student investment fund, based off  a similar program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he said.

Recipients will receive micro-investments up to $5,000, as well as mentoring from Weinstock, local businesses and the school.

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The fund's board — which includes Weinstock, Norrie and two other representatives each from Weinstock and the college — will be meeting this spring to consider students and will select the first two or three recipients this summer.

Norm Weinstock graduated from York Junior College (now York College of Pennsylvania) in 1958.

Roots in York: Weinstock also has another reason for supporting the York area — it's where his family created roots.

After World War II ended, his family moved to York City, where he grew up in what is now Granfalloons Tavern. His grandfather was the "first rabbi with a congregation west of the Susquehanna River," and both his parents worked in the York area for many years.

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Weinstock goes to visit his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents in the Jewish cemetery about a mile from York College every year — and this family connection is why it's important to him that everything he does for the college have his family name.

The York community also introduced him to his wife, Sheila, who he now lives with in Weston, Massachusetts — about 20 minutes from downtown Boston.

"You have nothing to lose but a cup of coffee," Weinstock recalls being told by one of Sheila's sorority sisters when she asked him to show Sheila around. "I lost 55 years of my life."

Looking ahead: As he looks ahead in his support of York College, Weinstock hopes to see the school continue to grow.

He said colleges are struggling because they can't attract enough students to cover costs. Two such schools in Massachusetts — Newbury College and Mount Ida College — recently announced their closures.

Weinstock's goal is for York College to have programs that will differentiate it from other schools, drawing in more students.

Although he's almost 80, when reached Monday, Feb. 25, Weinstock said he just worked four 17-hour days and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

"York College is part of those plans," he said.

Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect the correct graduation year for Norm Weinstock.