The 2017 Fairfield Awards Dinner raises more than $1 million for scholarships, and students bring the celebration to thousands online.

The 2017 Fairfield Awards Dinner raises more than $1 million for scholarships, and students bring the celebration to thousands online.

March 30, 2017, New York City glittered with smiles from the Fairfield University community.

More than 600 alumni, faculty, staff, and students gathered to celebrate the annual Fairfield Awards Dinner at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, and this year they had much to applaud.

Each year, the dinner welcomes the generosity of the University’s friends and family to aid students in financial need; this year, the event raised more than $1 million for scholarships. The dinner has raised over $17 million for student scholarships since its inception.

Fairfield’s family celebrated each other too. The Awards Dinner regularly honors those who have distinguished themselves in service of the University, and this year highlighted two alumni and one professor for carrying Fairfield’s Jesuit values into their careers, and for sharing their wisdom and expertise with new generations of Stags.

From its alumni ranks, Fairfield honored Douglas W. Hammond ’86 with the Alumni Professional Achievement Award. Since graduating, Doug has earned his Juris Doctor from St. John’s University School of Law, and has become chairman and chief executive officer of NFP, a leading insurance brokerage and consultancy. Under his leadership, NFP has grown to over $1.2 billion in revenue, and is the fifth largest benefits brokerage worldwide. Hammond credited his Fairfield education for much of his success. “I think that’s the beauty of a strong liberal arts education,” Hammond said. “ You don’t realize it when it’s happening, but you develop the skills to be a lifelong passionate learner, to be nimble with new information and concepts — so your opportunities are limitless.”

Attendees also applauded Robert M. McMahon ’87, P’20, ’21 who received the Alumni Service Award. McMahon has consistently served Fairfield since his own graduation, with the University’s Friends of Soccer, and with the career mentorship program that connects alumni with current students in Fairfield’s Dolan School of Business, among other areas of service.

“Helping raise funds and being involved in this dinner has been incredibly rewarding for me,” he said in his remarks. “It’s kept me involved with the community of Fairfield University, which has just been a fantastic experience.”

Accepting the award, McMahon delivered a moving address, thanking his wife, Kristin (Dodge) McMahon ’87, P’20,’21 and the friends he made in his college days for their support throughout his life. “I love you guys,” he said. “My life is… unimaginable without you.”

Katherine A. Schwab, PhD, a professor of visual and performing arts since 1988 was the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Faculty/Administrator Award.

Members of the Greek Consulate were present to cheer her success, which comes after a career of expertise in Greek and Roman art and archaeology.

Honorees and foreign delegates weren’t the only special guests in attendance, though. Throughout the evening, current student recipients of scholarships funded by the Fairfield Awards Dinner mingled with alumni, faculty and staff — and helped the evening stand out on social media.

“This event was phenomenal, and I was so excited to share it with people from our community that couldn’t be there in person,” said Safirah Fequiere ’18, a political science major. “I had the most amazing time speaking with alumni,” she said. “I sat by a Board of Trustees member at dinner, an alumnus, and we bonded over professors we shared. I also got some great advice on preparing for life after college! I’m extremely grateful for the conversations I was able to have.”

As for psychology major Ro-Anna Thomas ’17, who introduced the evening to the University’s over 17,000 Facebook followers, the Fairfield Awards Dinner was a gratifying learning experience. She said, “This event means a lot to me as a recipient of the Multicultural Scholarship. That scholarship has allowed me to pursue my dreams at Fairfield, and it’s great to be part of such a big night that helps students like me who sometimes come from all over the world.”

Meanwhile, management major Teon Smith ’17 was also one of the faces of Fairfield University on social media.

“I wanted to show current and future Stags that your relationship doesn’t end after graduation. Talking with the young alumni at the event, I saw that their relationship with the University has grown even more.”

Of the honorees speeches, he remarked: “They had so much passion for what they were doing. Listening to our alumni made me want to return after I graduate and give back to Fairfield any way I can.”

Interested in being part of next year’s awards dinner? E-mail us at fairfieldawardsdinner@fairfield.edu.