The Fairfield Awards Dinner in New York City raised more than $1 million for scholarships and a palpable sense of Fairfield pride inspired real-time fundraising through the MobileCause app.

The Fairfield Awards Dinner in New York City raised more than $1 million for scholarships and a palpable sense of Fairfield pride inspired real-time fundraising through the <em>MobileCause</em> app.

Correction: June 28, 2018
In the print version of this article, a photo caption misspelled Heather Fanning Geyer ’06.

On April 19, Times Square lit up with a celebration of opportunity at the 2018 Fairfield Awards Dinner.

This year, over 500 alumni, parents, students, and friends of the University came together at the Sheraton Times Square in New York City. They reunited with their Fairfield family, forged new connections, honored outstanding members of the University community, and gave to create possibilities for future generations of Stags.

And give they did. In total, the gala raised more than $1 million to fund the Multicultural Scholarship Fund, as well as other scholarships at Fairfield University. This continues a tradition that has raised over $17 million since 1988, helping to realize a Jesuit education for countless Fairfield graduates.

The evening’s honorees emphasized the importance of that generosity. Every year, the Awards Dinner recognizes those who have made lasting contributions in service to the University, and in 2018, Fairfield honored alumni, administrators, and families who have exemplified the University’s Jesuit values in their communities, careers and commitment to Fairfield.

This year’s honored guests were Kathleen A. Murphy ’84, president of personal investing at Fidelity Investments, who received the Alumni Professional Achievement Award; Thomas J. Fanning Sr. ’78, P’10, ’06, founder and managing partner of Heritage Strategies LLC, who received the Alumni Service Award; David W. Frassinelli MS’92, vice president of Facilities Management at Fairfield University, who received the Distinguished Faculty/Administrator Award; and Joseph and Mary Carlucci, P’18, ’10, ’09, co-chairs of the Parent Leadership Council, who received the Parent Leadership Award.

While being acknowledged for their contributions to the University, the honorees took time to remark upon the significance of the spirit of giving in the Fairfield community. Frassinelli reminded guests that they had gathered to pay forward the opportunities they were given to help future generations succeed. Later, the Carluccis reflected on the generosity not only displayed but instilled by a Fairfield education.

They said, “Our three sons and their wives, all graduates… have been recipients of a very special education here at Fairfield University… An education that includes not only academics but also, and equally — if not more importantly — an education of social awareness, spiritual awareness, and kindness that is, in our view, so necessary.”

Murphy expressed the value of the Fairfield experience like this: “A Jesuit education turns you into the person you should be.”

While the night was a heartfelt tribute to a tradition of opportunity, it was also an evening of firsts. President Mark R. Nemec, PhD, the ninth President of Fairfield University, attended the Fairfield Awards Dinner for the time, his first address affirming Fairfield’s commitment to its Jesuit roots. “Fairfield is a special university,” he said, “an institution on the rise where… we continue to form men and women for others so they may pursue lives of social justice and productive citizenship.”

Other first-timers that night included current Fairfield students like electrical engineering major Benicat Benoit ’19. “The Fairfield Awards Dinner was one of the most significant activities I’ve participated in during my time at Fairfield,” she said.

Thanks to Benoit and the others, over 45,000 followers across Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter joined in as the students “took over” Fairfield’s official accounts and brought viewers along on their New York City adventure.

They also connected with alumni who gave them a glimpse of life after graduation. Biology major Abdul-Jawad Majeed ’19 said, “During the dinner, I talked to members of the Board of Trustees, and I even met other alumni who shared my major. They gave me an idea of what it would be like to work in my field, and everyone greeted me with a smile and whole-hearted welcome.”

That welcoming sense of community led to an exciting moment with another new arrival at the event: MobileCause, a tool implemented for real-time fundraising with the goal of raising $30,000 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the dinner. Upon reaching $29,998, two dollars short of the goal, the entire room raced to see who could be to help Fairfield cross the finish line—and then cheered as guests continued on, eventually raising over $40,000, and exceeding expectations.

Aliyah Phipps ’18, a Chinese Studies and communication double major, credited that kind of enthusiasm for philanthropy with making her Fairfield education possible. When she addressed the crowd from the Awards Dinner stage, she said that because of the encouragement of “family, faculty, staff, teammates, and friends, as well as many generous donors who saw something in me that I could not always see in myself… my experience at Fairfield has for sure been an incredible one.”

Witnessing all of this, Majeed said, “I’m blown away by the generosity of my predecessors. I hope one day I can land on my feet and continue this inspiring tradition. From what I saw that night, I’m sure I will.”