Mel Karmazin


Mel Karmazin is leading the campaign to raise funds to establish the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services.

Rutgers is creating a center for adults with autism that will  provide the opportunity for them to live and work independently within a university setting. The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services, located on the Douglass Campus at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, will offer up to 60 adults university jobs and support from clinical staff and graduate students. A second phase of the center will  provide a pilot residential program for 20 adults with autism who will work on campus and live alongside 20 Rutgers graduate students in an apartment-style residence. 

In partnering with the Rutgers University Foundation, Mel Karmazin, the former CEO of Viacom, CBS, and Sirius XM Radio, is leading the effort to raise $35 million along with his daughter Dina, the executive director of the Mel Karmazin Foundation, which advocates for autism causes.

One in 68 children nationally,  and one in 45 in New Jersey, are  diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental  disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. School-age children with autism receive tutoring, mental health care, transportation, and other services to accommodate their needs. But once they leave the public school system after high school, services diminish dramatically, leaving adults with little support beyond their families. In the next decade, as many as 500,000 children with autism in the United States will reach adulthood. The demand for support, programs, employment, and housing already  has created a crisis.

The new center at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology will provide education and clinical training for students working with those challenged by ASD. Rutgers is also home to the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, which includes an on-campus K–12 day school for children with autism.

“The autism center initiative couldn’t come at a better time,” says Karmazin, who has also helped support an endowed chair in adult autism at the graduate school.

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