University News

University Philanthropy Celebrated at President's Donor Reception

Published: October 12, 2022 | Categories: All News
Overview of the guests at the Presidents donor reception listening to speakers

In celebration of the generosity and impact of Western New England University Giving Society members, President Robert E. Johnson hosted a donor reception at GreatHorse on Wednesday, September 28.

In honor of milestone giving achievements and encouragement for philanthropic support in years to come, the event—attended by more than 100 supporters—featured special remarks from President Johnson, Vice President for Advancement Beverly Dwight, student scholarship recipient Timothy Doyle, and the University's most generous benefactors, Kevin '77/H'19 and Sandra Delbridge.

"From annual donors to loyal donors, to donors who have included the University in their estate plans, and our most generous donors⁠—every single gift counts," said Beverly Dwight.

The evening's honorees included 25 new members of the Benefactors' Society, the University's top giving society recognizing those who have made cumulative gifts of $100,000 or more. Achieving this remarkable giving status, the new Society members join an impressive club of more than 120 individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Benefactors' Society Class of 2022, many of whom made impactful gifts that contributed to the historic success of the University's Second Century Campaign⁠—which concluded in June 2020 after raising more than $36 million⁠—includes: Lisa M. Bachmann '83/G'90 and Bruce D. Bachmann '83/G'90, Eli B. Basch L'76, Janet Johnson Bullard '69, Carmel A. Caramagna L'84, Richard M. Cassata '80, Robert W. Clarke, Alexander M. Corl '84, Rocco J. Falcone, II '84/G'87, The Estate of Thomas Fitzgerald '65, Denis G. Gagnon G'76, The Henry P. Kendall Foundation, Stanley Kowalski, III '92, Robert E. Kubicek '52/L'57/H'01, The June E. Lester Trust, Dennis M. Lind '80, The MassMutual Foundation, Inc., The Honorable Michael B. Powers L'82, The Honorable Hugo L. Ricci, Jr. L'74, Kenneth M. Rickson '75, Jeffrey B. Sagalyn L'76, Patricia J. Serafino '77 in memory of Michael A. Serafino '77, Gary F. Thomas L'76, Steven J. Tremblay '87/G'91, Kathleen A. White '78, and R. Lyman and Leslie Wood.

Reflecting on the impacts WNE donor generosity has on the Golden Bear student experience, senior Timothy Doyle⁠—a Mechanical Engineering major, Student Ambassador, and recipient of the John J. Brown Endowed Memorial Scholarship and the Mark L. Berthiaume and Betsy Thompson Endowed Scholarship⁠—shared how donor support helped make his educational aspirations a reality. "While I look forward to my career as an Engineer, working with some of the most advanced technologies in the world, I also look back to what got me here, and that’s all of you," said Timothy. "Your gracious gifts allow so many other students, just like me, to succeed academically and grow as young professionals by alleviating some of the financial stress. The opportunity that WNE has provided me is once in a lifetime. Thank you for helping me become an Engineer, and for helping many others on the path through college and onto brighter futures."

In appreciation for their intentions to further the student experience and enhance the reputation of the University, the event concluded with a special recognition of the unprecedented generosity of Kevin and Sandra Delbridge. In December of 2021, culminating over 35 years of giving, the Delbridge's achieved the momentous philanthropic milestone of $10 million in gifts to the University. Through their extraordinary support, the Delbridge family has made a significant impact on the WNE student experience, most notably with their transformational gift in support of operational and capital improvements for the WNE Career Center. Now known as the Kevin S. and Sandra E. Delbridge Career Center, their support has provided students with dynamic tools and resources to enhance educational and experiential learning opportunities, while cultivating career strategies now and into the future.

"Their gift, which enables dramatic physical and programmatic enhancements to the existing career center, boosts the University's ability to deliver on its promise to ensure that our graduates are prepared to be successful in an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing global society," said President Johnson.

Further augmenting their commitment to student success, the Delbridge family has impacted hundreds of Golden Bears from Springfield and surrounding communities through the development of the Kevin S. Delbridge Endowed Scholarship and the Delbridge Family Endowed Scholarship.

"Many years ago, Sandra and I decided where we would put our philanthropic dollars over the years and there were two areas that were very important to us. One was in the arts, for the soul. The other was in education, for the mind." said Kevin Delbridge, who has served as a longtime University Trustee and former Chairman of the Board, Co-Chair of the Transformations Campaign 2003-2008, Honorary Co-Chair of The Campaign for Our Second Century 2016-2020, and has also been honored for his philanthropy and leadership as Alumnus of the Year in 2001 and awarded the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2019 at the University's 100th Commencement. "We truly believe that education is the key for success, and we really want to do whatever we can to make sure that people who deserve an education can get that education."

Celebrating the legacy and impact of the Delbridge Family as the University's most generous benefactors, and their longstanding hope that their philanthropy might serve as a role model for others, the WNE Alumni Association has established the Delbridge Family Spirit of Philanthropy Award to annually recognize the sustained and significant philanthropic impact of a WNE graduate over their lifetime. The inaugural award recipient will be announced in the spring of 2023.

"Together we have so much to celebrate," said President Johnson. "Every day I think about how we can honor our traditions and build on those so we can move this dynamic University into the future. Moving forward means we must embrace a culture of innovation and accept our role in shaping the lives of the students who trust us to prepare them for a future that is unimaginable. As a New Traditional University, we endeavor to harness the possibilities of the future and empower our students to be agile and adaptive learners. We promise to prepare our graduates to be able to reinvent themselves throughout their professional careers and to be able to measure that success in all they do as they go out into the world and become global citizens."

Learn more about the WNE Donor Recognition Societies and the Benefactors' Society Class of 2022 at View the President’s Donor Reception event photo gallery.