Baruch College Fund Raises $1.2 Million at 31st Annual Bernard Baruch DinnerVirtual Gala brought special guests and an appeal for funds to help students facing financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic
April 21, 2021
More than $1.2 million was raised for the Baruch College Fund (BCF) at the 2021 Bernard Baruch Virtual Gala on April 20. The online event drew over 170 attendees, and was held in place of the annual Bernard Baruch Dinner, which has taken place for the past three decades.
This is the fifth consecutive year that the event has raised more than $1 million for BCF.
Gifts to the event support Stand Up for Baruch, a $5 million BCF initiative to address critical areas of urgent need, including financial aid, emergency grants, technology assistance, mental health services, and career counseling.
Speaking during the event, Baruch College President S. David Wu directed his thanks to an online audience: “I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone sitting here in the audience, and I hope that I will be able to meet all of you in person before too long — so that I can tell you how grateful we are for your support in what we do, in making Baruch the way we are. I think the future is very bright for us.”
Special Guests and Honorees: A Family Affair
Gala attendees were joined this year by a special guest: author and journalist Jenna Bush Hager, who introduced the event and interviewed both Baruch College President S. David Wu and Helen Mills, President of the Baruch College Fund.
Speaking about the importance of the evening’s fundraising, Helen Mills said, “Tonight is critical for supporting the Baruch College Fund because our students have such dramatic needs in many parts of their lives – they have lost jobs, or their families have lost jobs, or they have lost close family members. It is a great emotional and financial comfort for students when they know that their college stands with them. Every person here tonight is part of that steadfastness we offer our students.”
This year’s recipient of the Bernard Baruch Award for Business and Civic Leadership was investment management firm Neuberger Berman, whose board members include businessman and philanthropist Larry Zicklin (’57). Baruch’s Zicklin School of Business was named in his honor in 1998, following a generous gift to elevate the College’s business school students and programs. He, too, received special recognition during the Gala.
Accepting the award on behalf of Neuberger Berman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer George Walker spoke to the audience about the firm’s special relationship with the College: “Our commitment to diversity frames our partnership with Baruch.”
Mr. Walker’s presence also helped to lend all the trappings of a family affair to the evening’s Gala. Today Show co-host and author Jenna Bush Hager is Mr. Walker’s cousin.
During the Gala, a special appeal was made for Stand Up for Baruch, a $5 million initiative to support scholarships for students and other assistance programs that will help ensure that no Baruch student is denied success due to financial hardship.
Leon Shivamber (’84), Chair of the Stand Up for Baruch initiative, delivered the appeal during the Gala, explaining that, “We want to make sure that no student is left behind because of the financial hardships brought on by the pandemic. That is why my fellow trustees and I have set the ambitious goal to raise $5 million before June 30 to make sure all the things that make Baruch a beacon of hope are not compromised or diminished.”
Another Trustee of the Baruch College Fund, Jay Berman (’59), spoke about the critical impact that the Stand up for Baruch initiative would have –– both on students and on New York City, Baruch’s home base: “My whole education was based on scholarships and would not have been possible if not from those who came before me. For those of us who benefitted from a system that contributed to our success, there is such sense of satisfaction to be a scholarship donor, seeing students take advantage of this opportunity. Our students, for the most part, stay in New York, and make this city better.”
Gala attendees were treated to a special spoken word performance by Baruch College students enrolled in the class taught by Spring 2021 Harman Writer-in-Residence Stew, the Tony Award-winning playwright of Passing Strange.
In Stew’s course, “The New Musical,” the students are collaborating to develop a musical, writing songs and building characters side-by-side with Stew and an array of VIP guests. At the Gala, the students performed original works, giving guests an exclusive first look into the Harman Writer-in-Residence Program’s first –– and majorly successful –– foray into musical theater.
Baruch Poised for Renewed Success in a Post-Pandemic World
During the event, President Wu, who was first announced as the incoming president in late February of 2020, reflected on the unexpected and challenging nature of the last year.
He said, “By the time I started my tenure on July 1, everything had changed. We were in the midst of a pandemic and entering a whole new world. Adding to it was the State going through a budget crisis.”
In his remarks, President Wu both thanked the Baruch community for their response to the pandemic and laid out his vision for what Baruch can look like in a post-pandemic future:
“Overall, our community has responded with compassion, resilience and creativity. Many people have helped us a great deal to assist our students during this challenging time. I am impressed with how Baruch’s community has come together, not only in facing the pandemic, but also the reckoning of the social justice issues that we have been dealing with as a country,” he said.
“It is time to take a stand, make a difference, and create a new model offering a top-notch, top-tier education while, at the same time, providing access to those who may not otherwise be able to afford the opportunity,” he continued.
Wu concluded with a note about Baruch’s role in shaping New York’s recovery: “Baruch has the expertise to help the city recover —not only do we take from the city, but we also give back. We have the intellectual ingredients to educate future leaders and changemakers, which is what Baruch does.”
Support the Baruch College Fund
Contributions to BCF and the Stand Up for Baruch initiative are ongoing. Donate to BCF here.
Stand Up for Baruch has already raised over $4 million to support Baruch students during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic – visit the initiative’s website to contribute.