Eli Hoffman - Big Pi

Eli Hoffman, 40 years honoring a friend through charity

In 1982, Eli Hoffman ’59 (Temple University) lost his close friend George R. Jaqua, and inherited a mission to help people in need and organizations with a worthy cause, including Pi Lambda Phi. Eli was named chairman for life of the Jaqua Foundation, a benefactor to universities, hospitals, cultural organizations, and animal welfare groups.

In his capacity as chairman of The Jaqua Foundation, Eli has authorized grants of more than $33 million over the last 40 years. But Eli is always quick to defer any personal accolades saying, “it was a wonderful way to honor my dearest friend’s name.”

The Jaqua Foundation has established scholarships to Lafayette, Cornell, Temple, Rutgers and Dartmouth, which has benefitted over 500 students at these schools, and authorized grants to notable organizations, including the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Newark Museum, Saint Barnabas Hospital, the Animal Medical Center, and Valley Hospital.

Fondly remembering his days as an undergrad

Eli brightens up when asked about his time at Temple, but admits that it wasn’t all fun and games. He said, “I studied my butt off and worked after school as a proofreader at an accounting firm on Market Street.”

Eli served as house Steward at Pilam, a position responsible for purchasing and provisions. He lived in the chapter house at 1615 North Broad, “a beautiful, old 3-story mansion, with a cook and big dining room,” which he says hosted some epic food fights. 

To help scrape up spending money, the brothers held crap games after lunch and made occasional trips to the Garden State Race Track. They also frequented “The Wedge,” a local gin mill, presumably to spend the gambling proceeds.

The chapter sponsored a “Miss Incoming Freshman” contest, and hosted events including  Spring Formal, Dante’s Inferno Party, and a Prohibition Party.

Pilam is “in his blood”

1959 Temple YearbookAsked why he continues to support Pi Lambda Phi, Eli responds with a resounding, “Pilam is in my blood.” He never forgot what the fraternity gave him and takes every opportunity to give back to his chapter and the Fraternity. 

He has been an avid supporter of the Educational Foundation, sponsoring a number of programs, including the JAQUA Leadership School. In recognition for his accomplishments, Eli received the Big Pi Award in 2001.

At Temple, he established a Jaqua Scholarship which is offered to Engineering majors (the chosen profession of George Jaqua), and gives preference to Pilam brothers. Eli always makes inquiries about qualified member of his chapter and encourages them to apply. Over the years, several PA Alpha Delta brothers received the scholarship. 

This year, the scholarship was awarded to a worthy candidate, brother George Snedden ’22. The Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering said this about him, “I am certain that you and your fellow Pi Lambda Phi alumni will be favorably impressed by George. He is an intelligent, hard-working, and unfailingly polite young man, and I cannot imagine many other students as deserving and humble as George.”

Seeking a chauffeur

Eli had a long, successful career at Eisner Amper, LLP, a national accounting firm. He retired as a senior partner in 2014. 

Eli jokingly asked, “can you send a few pledges to drive me around and maybe wash my car?”

Editor’s Note: That was a different era, and the IHQ says they’re called new members now. We need them studying so they’re eligible for your scholarships. Sorry, Eli.


Article written by Shawn Mahoney (Temple University, ’92)