The 2013 Awards Dinner celebrates over $2 million raised for scholarships

by Virginia Weir

Opportunity and transformation were the themes resonating throughout the evening during Fairfield University’s 26th annual Awards Dinner on April 10. In his welcome to more than 400 guests in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt in New York, University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., spoke of the “larger vision” of Jesuit education, and how graduates apply their talents and transform the world for the better.

“In our honorees tonight, we see some of the fruits of this transformative education,” he said. “As we celebrate their accomplishments… we renew our commitment to extend that opportunity for a Fairfield education to young women and men of promise who can most benefit from what we have to offer — regardless of their financial circumstances.”

Under the leadership of Committee Co-Chairs William and Peggy Atwell, P’08; Frank ’89 and Susan Carroll; and Gavin and Marybeth O’Connor ’88, the event celebrated the raising of over $2 million this year for needbased financial aid funds.

Cynthia Bigelow, the third-generation president and CEO of R.C. Bigelow Tea, and a donor to Fairfield University’s scholarships, was the keynote speaker.

“Education is clearly an essential component to having a life in which you have true choices in front of you,” she said. “I can tell you overwhelmingly — after spending quality time listening to students who have received these scholarships — your money is going to outstanding use.”

THE HONOREES

Each of the five honorees spoke eloquently about how Fairfield had transformed their lives.

Carlos Cardoso ’81 received the Alumni Professional Achievement Award for a successful career, which has led him to his current position as president and CEO of Kennametal Inc., a leading industrial technology company.

An immigrant, born in Angola, Africa, Cardoso spoke of “four fundamentals” that propelled his career: commitment, integrity, work ethic, and a great education at Fairfield which, he said, provided the foundation and language skills he needed to achieve his American dream.

The Alumni Service Award was given to Robert Berchem ’62, P’92, who was the first in his family to go to college. “My mother, Barbara, was determined that I should have the best education she could provide — and, more particularly, a Jesuit education. It was a life-changing decision,” Berchem said in a prerecorded video. He established the Barbara M. Berchem Scholarship for the benefit of other first-generation college students.

“Fairfield has grown much,” he said, “but it still is and must remain a stepping stone for those who aspire and for those who simply deserve a chance to succeed.”

When Gene Doris, the recipient of the Distinguished Faculty/Administrator Award, came on board as athletics director in 1994, the multi-million-dollar facility that is the Walsh Athletic Center did not exist.

Under Doris’ leadership, the University now boasts 20 varsity sports, a solid Division I standing, and has seen the Stags win the overall Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Commissioner’s Cup four times. “My greatest sense of pride is seeing young men and women come through the gates as student-athletes and leave as ‘men and women for others,’” Doris said.

Top: Roger ’63 and Nancy Lynch, P’95; Bottom: Keynote speaker Cynthia Bigelow; Right: Minhhieu Nguyen ’13 and Ren Jen Jiang ’13

Top left: Roger ’63 and Nancy Lynch, P’95; Bottom left: Keynote speaker Cynthia Bigelow;

Right: Minhhieu Nguyen ’13 and Ren Jen Jiang ’13

SPECIAL RECOGNITIONS

Two additional awards were presented this year. Noted as a “passionate advocate for healthcare and a respected ambassador for Fairfield University,” Nancy Lynch, P’95, received the title of Honorary Alumna in recognition of her instrumental role in the launching of the School of Nursing Advisory Board. Lynch served as chair for two terms, and helped the School achieve national recognition.

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