By Niko Balkaran
York College raised $221, 604 at this year’s foundation gala marking the school’s 55th anniversary at the TWA Hotel close to JFK airport in Queens.
This was York’s largest fundraising campaign which “will help finance bold new initiatives,” according to Ana Rua, chair of the York College Foundation Board.
These initiatives include a new student Welcome Center, accessibility and aesthetic building and beautification projects, leading-edge development programs and expanding study abroad opportunities, Rua continued.
The night opened with cocktails as the York College Alumni Combo played a variety of jazz numbers. Dr. Tom Zlabinger, who played the bass, led the group comprised of Bayo Fayemi on guitar, Dixon Morisseau on piano and Carl Bartlett Jr. on saxophone. The combo was founded in 2015 to showcase the talents of the graduates who were a part of the York College Music program.
Cocktails were followed by dinner, during which Jorge Andres, the master of ceremonies, gave a brief overview of why York College was holding the gala – for the students while trying to get the crowd excited through rounds of applause.
Dana Trimboli, the president’s chief of staff, gave the Welcome Address since President Berenecea Eanes was unavailable to attend due to an illness.
During dinner, seven honorees were presented with awards for various services to the College including Hope Knight, a former board member who also lectured York students during the Gumbo Coalition University mentorship program. Knight was the Board of Directors honoree.
Queensboro Football Club owner Jonathan Krane received the Corporate Honoree award. Krane’s soccer stadium is scheduled to be built on the college campus.
Two posthumous honors went to the late Prof. Margaret Vendryes, who served in the Fine Arts Department for more than 20 years and died unexpectedly in March, and former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, who became the first woman elected to that post in 1986 and served for 16 years. She died in August of 2020.