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Many Dreams

James Orefice Establishes $2.5 million Fund to Support Scholarships and Programs at the School of Public and Global Affairs

When James Orefice decided to earn his master’s degree in political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University, he was already a commodities trader on Wall Street. Through his work, he had come to understand the ways in which even small shifts in the global landscape could have enormous consequences for world markets.

But he decided to earn a master’s degree not because he thought it would make him a better trader – although it did — but because he was curious. Orefice, whose undergraduate degree from Widener University was in history, says that, as a trader, he spent his days pouring over the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times and charting markets to determine the supply of and demand for the precious metals he traded.

“Graduate school was fun,” says Orefice who earned and MA in 1992. “I did it at night so It took me a few years, but I really enjoyed the courses and the professors. It also helped me anticipate trends and make business decisions. It taught me to think and solve problems.” Orefice remembers several professors in particular who challenged him in ways that made him a better, more insightful trader. “In particular, Dr. Nasrollah Fatemi and his son, Dr. Faramarz Fatemi and Dr. Helen Brudner were professors with whom I studied, who were both tough and inspirational,” Orefice says.

Orefice’s path to Wall Street and FDU was anything but direct. When he graduated from college in 1971, he recalls, the country was in the midst of an economic slump. So Orefice decided to work his way around the U.S., with stops as a hand on a cattle ranch, as a laborer in a meatpacking plant in Denver and as a mobile home mechanic, before opening his own commodities firm in Dallas.

From Dallas, he made his way back east, secured a position as a floor clerk on Wall Street and, eventually, bought membership to trade precious metals and crude oil.

Even as he zigzagged toward a successful career in the high pressure trading world, he never lost his curiosity and passion for learning.

That passion was the impetus for the $2.5 million gift to FDU made by the Orefice Family Foundation as well as the University’s inclusion in his estate plans, all of which is earmarked to support scholarships and programs at FDU’s School of Public and Global Affairs. “Giving to FDU is giving someone the means to obtain an education,” Orefice says.

Orefice, who hung up his trading jacket in 2010, now splits his time between homes in New Jersey and Florida and manages commercial and residential real estate. He says that although he worked in the private sector, he strongly supports students who choose a career in public service. “Anytime you can join a non-profit or public organization you have the chance to turn a negative world into a positive one. Giving back to the community turns a zero-sum world into pro-sum world,” says Orefice.