Distinguished guests, alumni, faculty, students and guests were welcomed to celebrate the achievements of 11 esteemed individuals at the fourth annual Stevens Awards Gala at the renowned Plaza Hotel on April 8.
Guests arrived to the Plaza in their tuxedos and gowns, anxiously awaiting to enter the main dining hall where they would soon find themselves sitting next to alumni from the 1960s, current Stevens faculty or students, or even one of the 11 alumni who was the center of attention for the evening. Following cocktail hour, guests found their seats as Chris Cimino, News 4 “Today in New York” Meteorologist took his place on stage as Master of Ceremonies for the evening.
Among the award recipients included Rita Gurevich, Josh S. Weston, Steven Shulman, Martha J. Connolly, Richard D. Noble, Professor Hon. Cardinal Warde, Steven I. Bandel, Nate David, Alexander Calder, Greg. R Gianforte and Susan Gianforte, whose achievements and contributions in business, academia, technology and philanthropy demonstrated them as worthy of such recognition. Associative Vice President of the Office of Development Dawn DaSilva—who plays an instrumental role in the gala planning—noted the importance of the award recipients: “The [nominations] serve as a key piece of the entire process,” said DaSilva. She notes that the Gala is often the “first thing that connects these alumni back to Stevens in terms of formal engagement,” which requires ample planning and “understanding of the nominees’ universes.”
Cimino read aloud the biographies of the award winners as the audience listened almost in silent reverence. Among those in attendance were not only administrators and alumni, but guests, colleagues, and extended families of those who were being honored. DaSilva notes Steven Bandel, winner of the International Achievement Award, whose fellow Stevens Latin American Association members and friends were in attendance for support.
Entertainment for the evening included Dean Kelland Thomas with a special saxophone performance, Laura Van Orden, mother to current student Katie Van Orden, and Madame Claude’s All-Stars with Vanessa Perea.
The evening ended with remarks from President Farvardin, who continues to look towards the future and the “power of Stevens” with the help of dedicated and generous friends of the university. Following the award show, guests were invited to conclude the festivities with an hour-long “after-party” where guests could continue to socialize and form new networks.
DaSilva also notes that the generosity of various alumni provided for over 40 students to attend the Gala, which far exceeds student attendance over the past three events. “This is an event they’ll remember and come to after they graduate,” said DaSilva. “[The students] can start thinking about their future and what role they will play.”
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet and interact with several of the awardees, including Martha Connolly,” said Trevor Batchelder, a senior chemical engineering student who was in attendance. “Hearing how the university has changed from when she was a part of the first class of women at Stevens to now was really insightful and interesting.”
DaSilva attributes the success at this year’s Gala to the sheer increase in alumni attendance and the ever-rising caliber of the award recipients. “The Gala gives a chance for guests to get a true taste of what Stevens has to offer.”