April 27, 2023

In 40 Years of Fundraising, WCU’s Presidential Scholarship Community Gala Raises More than $2.6 Million for Students

galaEach year, West Chester University’s Annual Presidential Scholarship Community Gala attracts numerous friends from throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to an annual benefit organized to fund Presidential Scholarships for West Chester University students who have earned academic distinction. This year’s benefit celebrated a triple Ruby Anniversary: Forty years ago, in 1983, the Presidential Scholarship program was first established; West Chester State College became West Chester University of Pennsylvania; and current President Christopher Fiorentino began teaching at the University.

More than 250 guests attended the premier event that was made possible thanks to Presenting Sponsor Aramark and numerous corporate sponsors. This year, the Gala raised more than $120,000 for the Presidential Scholarship, which is funded entirely by private donations. Since its inception, the Gala has raised more than $2.6 million dollars for WCU students through a renewable, four-year Presidential Scholarship.

Special guests included Jørgen Frydnes and Henrik Syse, members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and members of the West Chester University Council of Trustees: Sen. Robert M. Tomlinson ’70; Tara D. Chupka ’05; Jonathan Ireland ’95, M’03; Susan Yoder Schick ’88; and Betty Silfa.

President Fiorentino and Dr. Susan Fiorentino shared co-hosting roles with Gala committee co-chairs Elizabeth and Stephen Leonard. A 1972 and 1980 alumnus, Steve taught instrumental music and directed the marching band in Hatboro-Horsham School District before leaving teaching to start his own business, local Jobsite Products, Inc. Liz spent 30 years working for various doctors in the Abington Memorial Hospital system.

During the event, Kylie Funkhouser (pictured), a junior cell and molecular biology major, pre-medical student, and Presidential Scholar, spoke about the impact of donor contributions: “This scholarship made attending WCU very possible for me. I felt as if my hard work was not only recognized by the University but encouraged, and that is one of the most significant reasons I am here today.”

Funkhouser continued, “Now, after almost three years of attending WCU, I can gratefully say that the contributions of the University’s donors, leaders, and educators have paved the way for excellence in not only my own career path, but in the student population as a whole.”

“In the fall of 1983, we had 9,586 students enrolled and ‘Every Breath You Take’ by the Police was on the radio seemingly nonstop,” President Fiorentino shared. “The inside of Anderson Hall was not as beautiful as it is now, but I can remember walking up Church Street for my interview inside – for a one-year sabbatical replacement position. Needless to say, I got the job. And it changed my life.

“That’s the thing about West Chester University: We’re in the business of changing lives. Serving this institution is one of the greatest honors of my life. Equally rewarding is seeing how an education at West Chester University has changed the lives of our students.”

Gala Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor: Aramark. Diamond Sponsors: Jobsite Products, Inc. and MacElree Harvey. Titanium Sponsor: H.B. Frazer Company. Gold Sponsors: Hobbs & Company, Inc.; Meridian Bank; Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP; Radius Systems; S&T Bank; Sodexo; University Student Housing, LLC; Visual Sound; and West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. Silver Sponsors: Arthur Hall Insurance, Citadel Credit Union, The Elite Group, First Bank, Johnson Controls, NJM Insurance Group, The Protection Bureau, Patricia & James P. Shinehouse ’80, and TD Bank. Signature Drink Sponsor: SEI Investments Company. Bronze Sponsors: Balfour; Baker Tilly; Dilworth Paxson LLP; The Kienle Family: Denise, Jessica, Stephanie, and Joe (Golden Rams 4 Life); Martin’s Financial Consulting Group – Ameriprise; Philadelphia Phillies; WCU Alumni Association; and WCU Athletics.

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