More than 50 student recipients of Rider scholarships were able to meet their benefactors and express their gratitude during the annual Scholarship and Stewardship Luncheon on April 5 in the Bart Luedeke Center Cavalla Room. The event, organized by Meaghan Crawford O’Gara, assistant director of Scholarships and Stewardship, also featured a scholarship video and performances from the spring production of The Producers inside the newly renovated theater in the BLC.
During his opening remarks, Dan Higgins, executive director of University Communications, acknowledged highlights of the 2011-12 academic year, including the grand opening of North Hall and the new performing arts addition to the BLC, as well as Rider’s jump of 15 places in the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings. At the same time, the University received troubling news from the state and federal government about the availability of grants and other forms of tuition assistance.
“We knew that in order to attract, enroll and retain the very best students who will go on to achieve greatness as Rider alumni, we needed to focus our efforts this year on scholarships for today’s students,” Higgins said. “And so we declared 2011-2012 as the Year of the Scholarship in University Advancement.”
Higgins said that many of Rider’s most loyal donors, particularly those in attendance, responded to the University’s fundraising effort, which appealed to scholarship donors for additional support to close the financial gap. “On behalf of our scholarship recipients, thank you for responding so generously,” he said.
During the luncheon, students had a chance to engage with scholarship benefactors. For example, Jordan Hall ’13, a Journalism major and recipient of the Bus Saidt Memorial Endowed Scholarship, was able to catch up with Shelia Gallagher-Montone, publisher and advertising director at The Times, whom he had met last year. The scholarship was established in memory of Bus Saidt ’40, a sports writer at The Times of Trenton, who died suddenly in 1989.
“She’s a terrific person and it’s always nice to see her and talk about journalism, newspapers, baseball and many other things,” said Hall about Gallagher-Montone. “I deeply appreciate The Times of Trenton for giving me the opportunity to be the recipient of the Bus Saidt Memorial Scholarship the past three years. It has been such a big help in affording my education and giving me the chance to pursue my career goals.”
After the luncheon, Rider President Mordechai Rozanski welcomed the scholarship recipients and donors inside the newly renovated theater in the BLC. Rozanski said the growth of scholarship support has been remarkable, and that these donations, combined with the University's resources, have helped increase the scholarship and grant fund from $28 million in 2004 to more than $50 million in 2012, an impressive 79 percent increase.
“Through your generous scholarship support, you partner with us to help our best and brightest attain the highest quality education possible,” Rozanski said to the scholarship benefactors in attendance. “In these very challenging economic times, your support is even more significant because it is making a Rider education possible for many who could not afford it.”
In his remarks to the scholarship recipients, Rozanski said scholarships provide “an extraordinary gift and a wonderful opportunity to advance your education.”
“We very much hope that, in the future, when you have achieved personal and professional success, you will remember your donors’ example and do everything you can to give back to the University’s scholarship program and help continue the cycle of philanthropy that has helped make your Rider experience possible.”
Then Rozanski introduced a special preview performance from the upcoming Rider production of The Producers. James Lewis ’13 and Gregory Clarke ’14 performed “We Can Do It.”
Following the performance, a special video presentation highlighted interviews of honorees, benefactors and recipients of two scholarships — The Dr. Belmont Haydel Phi Sigma Kappa Honorary Endowed Scholarship and The Thomas A. Van Vranken Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Many of the individuals featured in the video were in attendance, including Drs. Belmont and Nina Haydel, Dr. Jeffrey Uhl ’88, Dominick Callandriello ’92, Puneet Joshi ’12, Yoanna Akis ’14 and Daniel Kerr ’13.
The program ended with an ensemble performance, “I Want to be a Producer,” featuring Gregory Clarke ’14, Andrea Cocozza ’13, Elyse Langley ’12, Emily Marsilia ’13, Brittany Santos ’12, Abbey Sierakowski ’15, Valerie Stevens ’12 and Sarah Whiteford ’15.