To the sound of gongs, the guests streamed down a broad hall lined with sarcophagi of ancient pharaohs and kings, then took their seats at dinner tables beside a candlelit reflecting pool. In some ways, it was a family dinner—the Boston University family come together in New York City on a spring evening to celebrate leadership in alumni giving at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur gallery. And although surrounded by antiquities, the 300 BU alumni, trustees, overseers, faculty, and friends were focused firmly on the future.
The setting for the event, dubbed “a milestone for BU” by trustee Alan M. Leventhal (Hon.’09), wasn’t just cinematic and enchanting; it was symbolic—the president of the Met, Emily Rafferty (CAS’71), graduated from BU. Interwoven with a two-day New York meeting of the BU Board of Trustees, it showcased the best of the University for alumni who’ve been out in the world for a decade or for half a century. They came from as near as Manhattan’s Upper East Side and as far away as Dubai. There was a healthy contingent of BU deans as well; a casual scan of the crowd sipping predinner cocktails in the museum’s cavernous lobby showed Kenneth Elmore (SED’87), dean of students, Virginia Sapiro, dean of Arts & Sciences, and Benjamín Juárez, dean of the College of Fine Arts. A brass quintet of students and alumni dispensed harmonies on French horn, tuba, trumpet, and trombone under the direction of Don Lucas, a CFA associate professor of music. Later in the evening, the Dear Abbeys, BU’s premier male a cappella singing group, materialized to sing “Fast Forward.”
“Just like in ancient Egypt, it comes down to an unknown Jewish fellow to do the heavy lifting,” said emcee Andrew Lack, a BU trustee and CEO of Bloomberg Media Group. As a collage of images of BU’s campuses, students, classrooms, and sports events appeared above him on a stadium-worthy screen, Lack (CFA’68) kicked off the multimedia evening with a recitation of The Top Ten Things You Won’t Be Seeing Tonight at the Temple of Dendur—number 9: “You will not see trustee Kenneth Feld (SMG’70) dancing to ‘Walk Like an Egyptian.’”
For the remainder of the evening, the deadpanning Lack (“Work with me, people.”) handed the podium over to a succession of trustees, a professor, a student, and University President Robert A. Brown.
It was a night for BU to revel in the generosity of its donors; among the gifts announced were $5 million from trustee Steve Karp (CAS’63) and his wife, Jill, and $10 million from the Allen & Kelli Questrom Foundation to the School of Management, given by trustee Allen Questrom (SMG’64) and his wife, Kelli.
“If you are a BU alumnus sitting in this room, you are here because sometime in the past… something great happened to you in Boston,” said trustee SungEun Han-Andersen (CFA’85), a concert pianist. “People support the institutions they love, and which made a difference in their lives. What you see in this room is a network of relationships that is growing stronger every day.”
As the screen filled with names of individuals, couples, and families who have made gifts of $1 million or more to BU, Board of Trustees chair Robert Knox (CAS’74, GSM’75) lauded donors at all levels for being builders. “You are agents of change,” said Knox, whose recent gift of $10 million endowed a University professorship for advancement in global health. “Each of you has a particular focus…but all of those reasons come together in a common and noble cause.” ■