A Celebration of Philanthropy

Every fall, Stevens recognizes the generous alumni and friends who are members of the four philanthropic societies.

With The Power of Stevens campaign in the home stretch, more than 100 alumni and friends gathered on October 19, 2019 for the annual Celebration of Philanthropy event, during which they honored the four donor giving societies and celebrated the impact of philanthropy.

Associate Vice President Dawn da Silva gave opening remarks as the emcee, highlighting how philanthropy helped recruit the impressive Class of 2023 and 24 new faculty members, as well as build the new Gateway Academic Center on campus.

“Thanks to philanthropy,” da Silva said, “we are transforming Castle Point into a vibrant campus. We just opened the South Hall of the Gateway Academic Center, which could not have happened without the support of several generous donors. Students and faculty will learn, teach and research in impressive spaces like the Gina M. Addeo Lecture Hall and the Frank T. Battista ’54 Cyber Security Lab.”

A tradition of the event recognizes new and rising members of the four donor societies, which together represent four L’s of philanthropy: the Gear Society (loyalty), Edwin A. Stevens Society (leadership), Lifetime Giving Society (lifetime giving) and Stevens Legacy Society (leaving a legacy).

Joe Schneider with woman sitting at a table smiling. This year’s event also included a first-ever “couch conversation” segment, featuring a panel of four alumni who discussed their experiences at Stevens and why they support the university now. Dean of Students Ken Nilsen served as a guest moderator to converse with Larry Babbio ’65 Hon. D.Eng. ’01, Ashley Greenberg ’15, George Serafin ’87 M.S. ’92 and Patty Torres ’01.

Serafin, whose son George is a member of the Class of 2023, recalled his own first day on campus as a freshman. “My parents had never visited any of the schools when I drove around New Jersey looking for a college,” Serafin said. “My first day moving in was the first time my parents got to see Stevens. I was the first one to go to college, so there was a level of pride and excitement. Of course, it’s surreal now with my son here as a freshman, in the same dorm, same floor as I was.”

Greenberg, who works in finance, recounted how she had to pay her own way through school, an experience that motivates her to give back. “My husband (Chase Greenberg ’15) and I decided to support a scholarship for study abroad in the School of Business. I know how important cultural experiences are. Because I couldn’t go abroad when I was a student, it makes me feel better that we can assist other students.”

Torres said she began giving back because of her experience in STEP, and she now encourages her friends to join her in supporting the endowed STEP scholarship. “The first thing I did after I graduated was come back to campus to volunteer for a workshop. I knew a lot of STEP alumni had done the same. They gave me knowledge that helped me get prepared for the professional world, and I wanted to pay that forward.”

Larry Babbio leaning over a table while speaking to a group of Stevens alumni sitting at the table As the former chair, and now emeritus member, of the Board of Trustees, Babbio outlined what he called the lifecycle of great colleges. “You graduate great students, who do great things, who come back and help you get new facilities, great teachers, and scholarships so you can graduate more great students. If we don’t break the cycle, I think our future is bright.”

In his rousing remarks to close the program, President Farvardin recounted the university’s rise since it adopted the current strategic plan and launched The Power of Stevens, which is close to its goal of $200 million for the priorities of student success, faculty excellence and building a vibrant campus. He cited the ACES initiative, the SURE House and Castle Point Rocketry as ambitious projects the university has pursued.

President Farvardin also made a surprise announcement about Larry Babbio and the Pinnacle Scholars Program, which enables Stevens to attract some of the most talented students from across the country.

“Mr. Babbio helped construct the basic idea for Pinnacle and secure some of the initial funding,” President Farvardin said. “He became passionate about the program, and he gave one of the largest gifts in the history of this university in support of it. It is my honor tonight to announce the Pinnacle Scholars Program will be named the Lawrence T. Babbio, Jr. ’66 Pinnacle Scholarship Program.”

President Farvardin also gave a stirring call to action to continue the university’s impact, citing moving anecdotes about students who have used their Stevens education to become Rhodes Scholars and work at Google.

“We have embarked on a trajectory that is very ambitious,” President Farvardin said. “On this path there are many obstacles. But I think this university has the character and courage to deal with these challenges. As you contribute, you are helping this university make the world a better place.”

See pictures of the 2019 Celebration of Philanthropy on the Stevens alumni Flickr page