Past Signature Event
Charter Day 2023
Charter Day 2023
Annual Charter Day Launches Student-Focused Campaign
Above: FDU President Michael Avaltroni, center, with The PINNACLE Society inductees from left, Patrick Kissane, BA'11, MAS'15; Tim Gearty, BS'77; Maroa Velez, BS'77; Adenah Bayoh, BS'01; Donald Schwamb, BS'62; and Robert "Bobby" Stern, BS'08.
Below: FDU President Michael Avaltroni with Charter Day honoree Micheline Nader.
Fairleigh Dickinson’s 33rd annual Charter Day was a resounding success, raising over $700,000 for student scholarship support, as President Michael Avaltroni kicked off a new fund-raising campaign titled Students First, which will focus entirely on student success and support.
The event featured Charter Day honoree Micheline Nader, a current FDU board member, along with outstanding student speakers. Earlier in the evening the University inducted six new members into The PINNACLE Society. The PINNACLE awards are presented each year to a select group of alumni who have distinguished themselves in their careers and in their lives, and through their accomplishments have brought distinction to the University.
Nader, as well as PINNACLE honorees Adenah Bayoh, BS'01, and Maroa Velez, BS’77, each immigrated to America as young women from challenging backgrounds in Lebanon, Libera and Cuba, respectively — and found FDU to be a place where their dreams aligned with the University’s transformational and engaging student support. They, along with other PINNACLE honorees, Robert "Bobby" Stern, BS'08; Donald Schwamb, BS’62; Patrick Kissane, BA’11, MAS’15; and Tim Gearty, BS’77; each recognized the unique ways in which FDU met their needs and sent them on a path towards tremendous success after graduation.
"Our students excel because of the generosity of people who make Charter Day an incredible success and want to see FDU continue to be that beacon of opportunity that we see in our honorees tonight," said Avaltroni, who was recently named FDU’s ninth president and is the first alumnus to serve as president. "This is why our new campaign is called 'Students First.' It is said that a university can be evaluated by its faculty, staff and alumni contributions to the world. I am humbled daily by the people I get to work with to continue to move FDU forward, but ultimately our alumni define us — they become our end product, what we put forward into the world.
"Our students are, and must always be, our North Star," Avaltroni added. "Our next campaign, and indeed our laser-like focus, must be on ways in which we can continue to forge student experiences and opportunities that have produced the remarkable graduates we are honoring tonight."
Among the event’s speakers were current Florham Campus Student Government Association President Michelle Schultheis as well as Knights men’s basketball standout Demetre Roberts, part of the Cinderella story this past March as the team stunned top-ranked Purdue and reached the third round.
Avaltroni noted that the men’s basketball team’s success, "was a microcosm of who FDU graduates are, consistently 'punching above their weight,' in the impact they make on our region, our country and, indeed, the world, when given an opportunity."
Schultheis, who has been involved in every facet of student life while enrolled in the 4+1 QUEST program studying elementary education and creative writing noted, "Since joining our FDU family, I have desired to be a part of the positive change for our University. I fell in love with the community and wanted to help see it grow and flourish more. Now, I can stand in front of you today and truly say that I believe I have helped become a part of that change."
A Charter Day scholarship recipient, Schultheis said that "my college experience has been far from easy. From battling family health struggles to dealing with financial hardships and more, it has been a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. But what has helped me to find the light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t this University, but rather, it was you. Each of you and everyone at this University who supported me and became my home away from home. For all of this, please accept my heartfelt thank you as my journey at FDU continues."
Roberts, meanwhile, noted the "family" atmosphere at FDU which allowed him to transition to his first season at Division I after spending four years previously at St. Thomas Aquinas.
"When I first stepped on the FDU campus, I felt more comfortable than usual just off the fact that the campus is a place where I can find peace and focus on what needs to be done," Roberts said. "As time went on, I was able to meet some good people on campus which made it better. But what made it even better were the opportunities I had as an athlete to not only accomplish goals as a member of the men's basketball team, but also as a student athlete. I was able to meet other athletes in other sports, accomplish the goals I set for myself before coming here and last but not least, I was able to take a step in getting my master’s degree – the first in my family to do so."
Nader, a healthcare entrepreneur, author, executive coach, motivational speaker and philanthropist, capped the festivities by being honored for her professional accomplishments, her civic contributions and her selfless support of FDU as both a Silberman Business College trustee as well as serving on the full FDU Board of Trustees. Prior to her accepting the Charter Day honoree recognition, she was read a letter from President Joe Biden by close friend Gail Gordon, spouse of former New Jersey state Senator Robert Gordon, lauding Nader’s extraordinary success and service.
"As someone who is not an alumnus of FDU, I am often referred to as an adoptive child. I feel incredibly blessed for the sense of welcoming and belonging that the FDU community has extended to me,” said Nader. “As we reflect on FDU’s past achievements, we must also look forward to the future with optimism and determination as we will have to continue innovating, inspiring, and reinventing ourselves as an institution. We will have to leap individually and collectively beyond our own success."
Over the course of its 33 years, Charter Day has now raised over $12 million to support scholarships as well as other support mechanisms for FDU's student population.