18th Annual Simon Benson Awards Dinner raises more than $1 million for PSU
http://psuf.org/18th-annual-simon-benso ... illion-psu
Portland State University raised more than $1 million Thursday night at the 18th Annual Simon Benson Awards Dinner. Held at the Oregon Convention Center, more than 1,500 guests including Portland business leaders, elected officials, civic and nonprofit partners and PSU faculty, staff, alumni and students, celebrated the the impact of philanthropy and the accomplishments of students, many who depend on philanthropy to earn a college degree.
It was the sixth year in a row that donors contributed more than $1 million to support student scholarships, faculty excellence, cutting-edge research and innovative programming at PSU and to celebrate the contributions of philanthropists and alumni.
The Simon Benson Awards Dinner is named after one of Oregon’s earliest philanthropists, and features awards for alumni achievement and philanthropy.
This year, Pete Nickerson and Dorothy Lemelson were honored with the Simon Benson Award for Philanthropy, while Barre Stoll, '89, MSW '92 received the Simon Benson Award for Alumni Achievement.
PSU's ninth president, Dr. Rahmat Shoureshi, welcomed the crowd to his first awards dinner and highlighted PSU's most recent accomplishments, including being ranked as one of the top ten most innovative universities in the nation. “I love that ranking," he said, "our faculty, staff and students worked hard to earn it. Believe me, I'm bragging about this everywhere I go."
His speech ended with a video of four PSU scholarship recipients who spoke about their individual, and often challenging, journeys to higher education — and how without scholarships it would have been a lot harder to achieve their dreams.
More scholarship money was raised thanks to a matching challenge grant from Maybelle Clark Macdonald fund that was met for the fifth and final year. Over the past five years, more than $1,235,008 was raised for Equal Access scholarships and the Maybelle Clark Macdonald Endowed Scholarship in the School of Social Work.
Keynote speaker, Captain "Sully" Sullenberger, brought a message of dedication, hope and preparedness. Sully became a household name in 2009 when, as a commercial airline pilot, he and his crew safely guided US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency water landing in New York City’s frigid Hudson River.
Rihana Mungin, a graduate student in the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, also gave a riveting presentation on her senior capstone work launching weather balloons to capture images of the full solar eclipse in August, 2017. Rihanna described her non-traditional journey to higher education and how PSU helped her to find her dreams — at 100,000 feet in the air.
For the sixth year, Bank of America was the presenting sponsor for the annual gala. Schlesinger Companies and the Schlesinger Family Foundation were the Keynote Speaker's Reception sponsors for the third year, and Principal sponsors were Kimberly Cooper and Jon Jaqua, The James and Shirley Rippey Family Foundation, Fred Meyer, Miller Family Holdings, Pete and Chris Nickerson, The Peter and Julie Stott Foundation, R&H Construction, Arlene Schnitzer and Jordan Schnitzer, Christine and David Vernier as well as Drs. Keren Brown Wilson and Michael DeShane.
Simon Benson Awards Dinner
The Simon Benson Awards Dinner is PSU’s signature event and since 1999, has raised more than $9.1 million to support promising and deserving students, exceptional faculty and innovative programs at Oregon’s urban research university.
About Portland State University
PSU, Oregon’s urban research university, is located in the vibrant heart of downtown Portland, and is recognized for excellence in sustainability and community engagement. With more than 160,000 alumni, the university actively engages communities, and works closely with local partners to ensure the economic vitality, environmental sustainability and quality of life in the Portland region and beyond. PSU takes pride in being one of the most accessible and diverse public universities in Oregon and offers more than 200-degree programs.
About the PSU Foundation
The PSU Foundation supports Portland State’s mission to be a leading public university and strives to fulfill the philanthropic needs of the university. Gifts to PSU support academic excellence, cutting-edge research, exceptional faculty and valuable community partnerships. Philanthropy has the ability to transform PSU.
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