From the Arbor | News for March from Jerry Weakley
March 2, a bit of Hollywood visited Baker. The 5th Annual Scholarship Gala was held in Overland Park with nearly 400 in attendance.
For those of you who watch coverage of some of the premier awards shows on television (Academy Awards, Tony Awards, Music Awards, and so on) you are familiar with the glitz, the glamour and the “Red Carpet” gauntlet of reporters featured at each of these particular events.
Not to be outdone, the University greeted guests to the Scholarship Gala this year with live and recorded interviews from the “Orange Carpet.” Co-emcees for the evening, Johnny Rowlands, ’73, and, shall we say “a much lesser known individual” (OK . . . it was me) asked both serious and humorous questions to those attending. The playback of the interviews occurred during dinner.
The real star (starlet) of the evening was of course, our hostess, President Pat Long. Channeling her best inner-Billy Crystal, Dr. Pat was inserted into several famous Hollywood movies, each of which featured opportunities to bring interesting Baker facts forward with great humor to the attendees. (While Dr. Pat has been a tremendous college president, she may have actually missed her real calling!)
While there was indeed much laughter all night . . . the bottom line was that the University raised the most money in a single Baker event, more than $300,000! These dollars raised will go directly to help attract and retain the finest Baker students possible. Combining the results of a lead gift by Peggy, ’68, and Andrew, ’70, Cherng, along with ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and proceeds of the silent auction, live auction and the Fund-a-Scholar component came together to lead us to the tremendous, although still not quite final figure. I plan to report the final numbers in the next issue of the Arbor.
Some believe that the Gala is an expensive event to attend. I have even participated in a dialogue to that extent on Facebook. But, I can say without reservation, and having attended dozens of similar events sponsored by myriad other charities and social service agencies, that the University does everything it can to hold down costs, thus maximizing the amount that reaches our students! While not everyone wants to support this particular event, it is important for the University to communicate an invitation to everyone so that each person has the opportunity to decide for himself or herself whether or not to attend.
Plans for next year’s Gala have already begun, and it sounds as though it will be even bigger and more entertaining than ever. I would love to see well over 500 in attendance next year. . . so save those pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters now so you can walk down the Orange Carpet with us and help a student at the same time!
Access the current issue of the Arbor. I hope you will find several items within that will indeed keep you informed, entertained and engaged with our great University!
Jerry Weakley, ’70, M.B.A. ’92