Generosity was in full swing at BMCC’s 24th Annual Gala, which benefits the BMCC Foundation Scholarship Fund.
The Gala, recently held at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, featured a cocktail reception, Silent Auction, and formal dinner, all in the name of charity.
The annual BMCC Gala raises money for Foundation scholarships; merit-based scholarships available for local and international students who meet certain academic, financial, and social criteria.
This semester, approximately 300 students received Foundation scholarships. Ten of these stand-out scholars attended the Gala, as did some scholars featured in Marks of Excellence, BMCC’s journal of award-winning students and their mentors.
“It was wonderful to receive a Foundation scholarship,” says Diana Nurse, a business administration major enrolled at CUNY Baruch for the fall. “I’m happy to be at this event, and hope my presence helps generate support for other BMCC students.”
Foundation scholar Fanesha Persaud, an aspiring pharmacist en route to Long Island University, was also at the Gala.
“Without this scholarship, it wouldn’t be possible for me to attend BMCC,” she said. “I’m incredibly grateful.”
The Gala’s theme, “Focusing on the Future,” reflected BMCC’s scholars, as well as the official opening of BMCC’s newest academic building, Fiterman Hall, which opens its doors this fall.
The event Co-Chairs were Publisher Emeritus of The Villager Elizabeth Butson, former Chair of the BMCC Foundation Board; James McKenna, Chief Executive Officer, Hunter Roberts Construction Group, and Margery Thomas Mueller, President, Margery Thomas & Associates, Inc.
Honored guests included Iris Weinshall, Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction, and Management at The City University of New York; Sheldon Silver, Speaker, New York State Assembly, and Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor of The City University of New York.
Journalist Axelrod is a “huge fan” of BMCC
The Gala’s Master of Ceremonies was CBS National News Correspondent Jim Axelrod, author of In the Long Run: A Father, a Son and Unintentional Lessons in Happiness.
Axelrod described himself as “a huge fan” of BMCC students and the college’s mission.
“BMCC makes higher education affordable for more than 24,000 students,” he said. “You’re investing in a more competitive workforce and a higher quality of life for countless individuals.”
Axelrod detailed the special connection he felt with Fiterman Hall. Reporting recently on assignment near the building, “made me feel proud.”
“I felt a sense of affiliation with Fiterman Hall when I looked up and noticed I was standing near it,” he said. “It feels like home to me.”
Axelrod then introduced the ten Foundation scholars who attended the Gala, who proudly stood for a round of applause.
Two informative, hi-tech videos ran on large screens during the reception.
The first video featured the growth and reconstruction of Fiterman Hall.
One interview subject, Laura Morrison, Managing Director at New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Euronext called Fiterman Hall, “a little red schoolhouse that contributes to the potential and future success of students.”
The second video featured the students who received Foundation scholarships, who thanked the donors for their contributions.
A ‘big deal’
Also on hand at the Gala was Tim Tynan, Chair of the BMCC Foundation and Managing Director and Global Head of Citibank Business Services. Tynan reminded guests that every dollar raised at the Gala goes directly to scholarships for BMCC students.
“The Gala is a big deal for us,” said Tynan. “This is one of the best events. It’s fun, casual and good-for-the-soul-type work. Every single dollar raised goes to scholarships. Last year your generosity changed the lives of 300 people.”
Honoring the Fitermans
The 24th Annual Gala honored the Miles and Shirley Fiterman family and Frank Sciame, Chairman and CEO, Sciame Construction.
Special friends to BMCC, in 1993, Miles and Shirley Fiterman donated the original Fiterman Hall building to the college. The building was irreparably damaged when World Trade 7 fell against it, during the attacks of 9/11.
The new Fiterman Hall—a 14-story building designed by the architectural firm of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and built by Hunter Roberts Construction Group—will house a world-class, fine arts gallery and public café, as well as approximately 80 Smart Classrooms and computer laboratories, offices, library spaces, music ensemble rooms and a rooftop conference center.
Sadly, Miles Fiterman passed away in 2004, but some of his family members attended the Gala. Son Steve Fiterman said his family is grateful to those who helped reconstruct Fiterman Hall, and daughter Valerie Herschman is "excited to see the new building" once reconstruction is complete.
Miles and Shirely Fiterman have always appreciated modern and post-war artwork. The new Fiterman Hall will house an art center named in honor of Shirley Fiterman.
According to BMCC President Dr. Antonio Pérez, the Fitermans are “well known for their commitment to new artists, and to making art accessible to more families.”
Honoring Frank Sciame
Honoree Frank Sciame, a CUNY graduate, established F. J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc. in 1975. In the years since, he has led the firm to its current position as one of the tri-state area's leading construction management firms. In 2006, Frank was appointed by Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg to lead the effort to ensure a buildable World Trade Center Memorial.
“He is a great friend to the BMCC community,” said Axelrod of Sciame.
Sciame thanked and acknowledged the Fiterman family, stating that once Fiterman Hall officially opens to students, “there is no doubt that Lower Manhattan will be one of the greatest neighborhoods in Manhattan.”
A proponent of community colleges, Sciame said he wasn't accepted to a senior college.
“So, I went to community college, which was ideal because it allowed me to succeed at a senior college." Sciame is a graduate of City College.
The Wall of Honor
BMCC President Dr. Antonio Pérez surprised the crowd by stating that five lucky guests with a ribbon under their chair will receive a complimentary Nook, courtesy of Barnes and Noble.
He then praised the BMCC community and Fiterman Hall.
“We owe many thanks to those who helped make Fiterman Hall a reality. The building will be marvelous, I’m in awe of it,” he said. “There will be many classrooms, a café…it’s a fantastic setting all New Yorkers will have the opportunity to appreciate. I’m touched by the commitment all of you made to support our students. You are changing the lives of our students.”
Pérez explained in the ground floor lobby space of Fiterman Hall, there will be a glass donor wall called the Wall of Honor, bearing the names of BMCC benefactors. Recognition in the donor wall is available for unrestricted donations of $10,000.
MBJ Foods was the first company to make an official Wall donation. At the Gala, five individuals came forth to make additional donations.
More exciting news
The 24th annual BMCC Gala raised $600,000 for the BMCC Foundation and 320 guests attended the event.
At the conclusion of the joyous evening, President Pérez made a special announcement.
“Join us next year for BMCC’s 50th birthday,” he said. “We’re going to have a party, not just a Gala, at the New York Stock Exchange. So extend your support and gratitude and we’ll see you there!”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Foundation scholarship recipients at the Gala were: Abisola Agboola, Angel Arroyo, Bibechana Basnet, Gary Ellis, Je eun Jeon, Alyssa Nejmeh, Diana Nurse, Fanesha Persaud, Samantha Stedman, Zsuzsanna Tauber.