Presidents’ Club event a great success
A capacity crowd of Presidents’ Club members had their hands full, trying to squeeze in conversations with classmates and friends at the Mandarin Hotel in New York on Tuesday, May 1. There was something for everyone at the leadership giving society’s annual dinner celebration, where music performed by Mark DiOrio ’80 and Allison Berry filled the air.
More than 500 alumni and friends, including former presidents Tom Bartlett and Neil Grabois, mingled during a pre-dinner reception. The dinner program included a video of April’s Colgate Day and Entrepreneur Weekend, featuring Kerschner Family Series Global Leaders speaker Sir Richard Branson.
Guests also listened to remarks by President Jeffrey Herbst, Erin Nash ’12, and Duncan Niederauer ’81, CEO and director of NYSE Euronext — all of whom touched on the vital importance of financial aid to the future of Colgate and effusively thanked donors to the Passion for the Climb campaign. Presidents’ Club chair Kim Huffard ’87 announced to cheers that $38 million of the $40 million financial aid challenge had been raised.
President Herbst thanked Huffard for her four years of service to the Presidents’ Club. He talked about the significant impact of campaign dollars on the campus in the form of major new buildings like the Ho Science Center, the Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology, the Trudy Fitness Center, and other capital projects. He also stressed the dramatic human impact of campaign-funded faculty positions, endowed chairs, and financial aid packages for top students from all over the world.
Erin Nash ’12, a member of the inaugural class of the Benton Scholars program, spoke movingly about her four years at Colgate — years made possible by financial aid. She told of how her academic work in psychology was enhanced by faculty mentorship and a Benton-sponsored study experience in Russia. Philanthropic support also provided her with the opportunity to make a humanitarian trip to the Dominican Republic, spend a summer working with autistic students in Central New York, and participate in a drama-based program for challenged children in Boston through a Jim Manzi ’73 fellowship.
Next up to the podium was Niederauer, who had the crowd laughing and crying during his wide ranging, heartfelt talk. Like Nash, he spoke about the importance of financial aid in his own Colgate experience. His personal history has inspired him to support scholarships and reach a hand back to his alma mater as a career services and fundraising volunteer, a member of the Board of Trustees and the Alumni Council. Niederauer — who, along with his wife, Alison, is active with Autism Speaks — also thanked Nash for her work with autistic children on behalf of his own son.
Hearing these inspirational words, the crowd wrapped up the evening by singing Colgate’s praises, too — using the words of the alma mater. It was a perfect coda for an engaging evening full of gratitude, energy, and fun for alumni and friends of all ages.