NEW YORK — More than 1,000 members of the Fordham community and New York City society gathered in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf=Astoria on March 26 to honor Stephen E. Bepler (FCRH ’64) and Kim Bepler during the Sixth Annual Fordham Founder’s Award Dinner.
The gala raised more than $2.1 million for the Fordham Founder’s Presidential Scholarship Fund, which is awarded to young men and women whose curiosity of mind and strength of spirit have enabled them to go beyond the boundaries of expectation.
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Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, thanked those in attendance for making it possible for Fordham to attract talented students and to “give to them the kind of values-laden education that has been the hallmark of a Fordham education for one hundred and sixty-six years,” an education in the Ignatian tradition.
St. Ignatius Loyola responded to the mystery of God’s love with wonder, said Father McShane. “His wonder gave rise to gratitude. Gratitude, in turn, gave rise to love, and love gave rise to action—purposeful action for the building up of the kingdom of God and the service of the human family. This pattern—wonder, gratitude, love and action—is the pattern of a Fordham education, and it has been the pattern in the lives of this year’s award winners.”
Three-time Emmy Award-winner Debbie Allen welcomed the assembled guests and dignitaries, including bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark (FCLC ’79); Gen. John M. Keane (CBA ’66), former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army; Charles Osgood (FCRH ’54), longtime anchor of CBS News Sunday Morning; Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham; and Edward Cardinal Egan, archbishop of New York, who delivered the invocation.
Allen also introduced the evening’s honorees and entertainment, which included spirited performances by the b-Sides, the University’s co-ed a capella group, and students in the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. in Dance program. (Allen’s daughter Vivian Nixon is a 2006 Ailey/Fordham graduate.)
Upon receiving the Founder’s Award, Stephen E. Bepler credited the Jesuits with laying the groundwork for his success in life.
“They ask why on the important questions,” he said. “They’re willing to ask why, even if they don’t get the answers they want.”
Bepler, a former trustee of Fordham University, has been an investment adviser for 40 years. Since 1972, he has been with Capital Research and Management, where he is president and principal executive officer of Capital World Growth and Income Fund and executive vice president of Europacific Growth Fund. Together with Kim Bepler, he has created the Karl Rahner, S.J., Chair in Theology, held by Mark S. Massa, S.J., Ph.D., and the John D. Boyd, S.J., Chair in Poetry.
Kim Bepler, the former director of business development at Cahners Travel Group, is a philanthropist and longtime volunteer at the Nativity Mission Center, a Jesuit middle school on New York’s Lower East Side. She said she was “deeply humbled and very grateful, but a bit overwhelmed to be singled out” as a Fordham Founder.
“I believe I stand here simply because of love. I love my husband and his love of all things Fordham,” she said. Calling herself “an ordinary person being recognized by this extraordinary place,” she said, “I promise to spend the rest of my life trying to live up to [the award].”
John N. Tognino (FCLS ’75), chairman of the Fordham University Board of Trustees, used the occasion to announce a $5 million gift to the University from E. Gerald Corrigan, Ph.D., former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who has been a managing director of Goldman Sachs since 1994. The gift will create an endowed professorship, the Corrigan Chair in International Business and Finance, at the University’s Graduate School of Business Administration. Corrigan received his master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1965 and 1971.
“The [Corrigan] Chair will enable Fordham to position itself as a global business center, with a focus on global economic and business research and policy,” Tognino said.
The Fordham Founder’s Award recognizes individuals whose personal and professional lives reflect the highest aspirations of the University’s defining traditions, as an institution dedicated to wisdom and learning in the service of others.