BMCC Fund Gala Raises Over $600,000 to Support Scholarships

April 24, 2003


April 24, 2003

The BMCC Fund’s 15th Annual Gala raised a record $616,439 to subsidize full-tuition scholarships for 172 students. Gala co-chairs Elizabeth Butson and Deborah Pearson, both active members of the Lower Manhattan community, brought about the highest level of attendance to date at this year’s event. More than 440 guests from New York’s corporate sector and community organizations participated in the 2003 gala, an increase of almost 100 people from the 2002 gala. Leading corporate benefactors included Verizon, The Bank of New York, Citigroup, and Con Edison, the Battery Park City Authority, and the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association.

Guests arrived on Bridgewater’s at the South Street Seaport just in time to enjoy the sunset behind the Brooklyn Bridge. Then Orville Ingram and Monica Agrest, two students who received scholarships from the BMCC Fund, told guests about the difference the scholarships made in their own lives. A chorus of scholars serenaded the diners with two musical selections.

A “Great Escapes” auction raised almost $22,000, which will fund scholarships for seven students. Donors contributed stays in the Hamptons, the Finger Lakes of upstate New York, the Bahamas, Fort Lauderdale, as well as two New York City luxury weekends.
For the first time, the gala invited guests to pledge $5,000 for the complete education of a BMCC student. Medical Education Technologies, Inc (which provides human patient simulators to BMCC’s nursing program), Polytechnic University, and long time BMCC benefactor Shirley Fiterman all pledged $5,000 each, which will underwrite an associate’s degree for three students. “We wanted to give people the opportunity to publicly commit to helping a student in need,” said BMCC President Antonio Pérez. “These pledges indicate a tremendous commitment to education on the part of the benefactors.”

The BMCC Fund board of directors led the way in making this year’s event a success with several board members donating properties for the auction and others motivating their companies to attend. Gerry Higgins, a senior vice president at Verizon who is new to the board and agreed to serve on the planning committee, recruited 16 tables and several more individual seats at the gala. The efforts of Higgins alone contributed more than $100,000 to the total amount raised. “We are so grateful to Gerry,” said Ellen O’Neill, chief operating officer of the Fund. “We wouldn’t have had this tremendous success in today’s economy without his commitment to the event and to our students,” she continued.

BMCC President Antonio Pérez and incoming board chair Tim Tunan presented honorees Shirley Fiterman and Gerald L. Hassell with the college’s Icarus Award.

Miles and Shirley Fiterman donated the 15-story Fiterman Hall at 30 West Broadway to BMCC in 1993. Their gift is the largest ever made to a community college. Fiterman Hall was damaged in the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and has been closed ever since. The Fitermans also support a number of scholarships at BMCC. They are generous benefactors of numerous arts and healthcare organizations in Florida, New York, and Minneapolis.

Gerald L. Hassell is the president of the Bank of New York, which has been a major supporter of BMCC. Mr. Hassell is involved with many charitable and philanthropic activities in education, child welfare, and healthcare.

After organizing six galas for the BMCC Fund, Inc., Ellen O’Neill noted, “The loyalty of so many long-time friends as well as new friends, who were joining us for the first or second time is deeply moving. Our students at BMCC are truly blessed to have such friends supporting their college education.”

Borough of Manhattan Community College awards more scholarships than any other community college in New York City.


Tim Tynan, chair-elect of the BMCC Fund, Inc; Gerald Hassell, president of the Bank of New York and 2003 honoree; Antonio Perez, president of BMCC.


Tim Tynan, chair-elect of the BMCC Fund, Inc; Shirley Fiterman, 2003 honoree; Antonio Perez, president of BMCC.


Rosa Diaz and Camilel Wright at the gala. They are just two of the BMCC students who were awarded scholarships through the BMCC Fund, Inc.

BMCC students Monica Agrest and Orville Ingram addressed gala participants about what receiving a scholarship meant to them.

Fiterman scholar Monica Agrest chats with benefactor, Shirley Fiterman.

Some of the BMCC students with scholarships made possible by gala proceeds.

Some of the BMCC students whose scholarships are funded by gala proceeds.


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