by Virginia Weir
On Tuesday, April 27, Fairfield University celebrated the twenty-third annual Awards Dinner to benefit the Multicultural Scholarship Fund. Co-chairs Frank J. Carroll III ’89 and Kevin Shea ’87 greeted the crowd of more than 500 guests in a packed room at the Grand Hyatt in New York, and proudly announced a record-breaking $1.4 million raised for scholarships for students. Since its inception, 155 students have received scholarships through this fund.
“A more diverse campus enriches the educational experience of all of Fairfield’s students, helping them reach their fullest potential,” noted Carroll.
University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., thanked Carroll, a portfolio manager and managing director at Oaktree Capital Management, and Shea, a vice president at Goldman Sachs, for their “extraordinary leadership” in bringing the Awards Dinner to a new level, so that a Fairfield education will be accessible for an increasing number of students from a variety of backgrounds. “Ensuring that young men and women of promise – regardless of their circumstances – have access to this education is a hallmark of Jesuit education.”
The event celebrated three members of the University community for their service and accomplishments. This year, John O’Neill ’71, P’08, received the Alumni Service award for his leadership of the Charles F. Dolan School of Business Advisory Board for the past seven years. He has also volunteered as a guest lecturer and career networking panelist, and raised funds for the men’s and women’s rugby clubs on campus. Dr. Thomas Conine Jr., P’07, ’05, professor of finance, was appreciated as a “master teacher in both the academic and the corporate classroom,” and was recognized with the Distinguished Faculty Award.
Joseph DiMenna ’80, a former University trustee, was honored with the Alumni Professional Achievement Award for his “generosity of spirit and resources” to the University. Known as a generous supporter of the arts, education, and organizations that serve the needs of children, DiMenna is managing director of Zweig-DiMenna Associates. In 1998, he made a major leadership gift to establish the DiMenna-Nyselius Library on the Fairfield campus.
As student representative, Edwin Muñiz ’11, a business management major, gave a reflection on how, with support from the Multicultural Scholarship Fund, he has been transformed. “Fairfield has been a place for me to find myself,” he said. “It’s through getting to know myself, and building a confidence in my abilities that I’ve become a student-leader at Fairfield.” MuÃ±iz was recently elected president of FUSA, the Fairfield University Student Association, and is the first AHANA student in that role.
Concluding the evening’s program, Fr. von Arx introduced Carmen Wong Ulrich ’93, the first Fairfield graduate to be the keynote speaker at the annual Awards Dinner. “With her diverse background, her self-motivated, entrepreneurial spirit, and her savvy ability to transform what she has learned into a successful career helping others, Carmen embodies what I would call the ‘face of Fairfield,'” he said.
“All children of hardship have in common adults who believe in them,” said Ulrich, whose family struggled to send her to college. She acknowledged the “team of leaders and professors” at Fairfield who taught her how to think critically, and to cultivate patience and listening. “They (faculty and staff) believed in me and my abilities, with no limits,” she said. “I’m always going to be so grateful … I’m proud to be the face of Fairfield.”
Title photo: University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., praised this year’s Awards Dinner co-chairs, Kevin Shea ’87 (left) and Frank Carroll ’89