Tetlow said that Khalil’s goal in life is “to be a person of integrity, to matter to the world, and most of all, of course, to make his parents proud.”
She called Khalil’s family the “quintessential” immigrant story. They came to the U.S. from Egypt, and his father, Mostafa, started his own business, a limo company in New York City. Mostafa drove guests to Fordham and dreamed of sending his own children to the University. “That dream came true because of all of you,” Tetlow said.
Khalil is one of 48 Fordham Founder’s scholars whose scholarships are supported by the annual Fordham Founder’s dinner. This year’s dinner, held on March 20 at the Glasshouse in Manhattan, raised about $2.3 million for the Fordham Founder’s Undergraduate Scholarship Fund. The University also paid tribute to this year’s Fordham Founder’s Award recipients: Robert D. Daleo, GABELLI ’72, and Linda Daleo; Thomas M. Lamberti, Esq., FCRH ’52, and Eileen Lamberti; and Vincent E. “Vin” Scully, FCRH ’49, who was honored posthumously.
Tetlow, who was speaking at her first Founder’s Dinner, told the audience that their support is why students like Khalil can achieve their dreams.
“For almost two centuries, we have dared our students to dream, to lift their hopes and their ambitions, all in New York, the city quite literally fueled by the power of dreams,” she said. “We bring together the best and brightest from every corner of the world, and we make them believe that they belong here. We create opportunities and transform lives, and we spin their dreams and talents into reality.”
‘Where Dreams Take Us’
This year’s Fordham Founder’s Award honorees were recognized for their many generous gifts to the University, from their financial support over the years to their leadership, guidance, and mentorship of Fordham’s students.
“Tonight, we celebrate everyone in this room, for your selfless and generous support that provides the promise of a Fordham education, a transformational Jesuit education, for our diverse and deserving students,” said David Ushery, the evening’s emcee. Ushery, an evening news anchor for NBC 4 New York, received an honorary doctorate from Fordham in 2019, and his wife, Isabel Rivera-Ushery, graduated from Fordham College at Rose Hill in 1990.
Ushery referred to the Fordham basketball teams’ recent successes, highlighting the excitement that captured the University community of late. He called on those in attendance to “echo that cheer and passion we heard this season, something I first heard at Rose Thrill.”
Tetlow said that she and the whole University community are grateful for the support of the honorees and all who support the dinner.
“For more than two decades, our Founder’s honorees and donors have worked to bring our students’ dreams to life,” she said. “Our students will follow in your footsteps, and they will make a difference to the world.”
Bob Daleo, former executive vice president and chief financial officer of Thomson Reuters, has served as the chair of the Fordham Board of Trustees for more than 10 years; his tenure will conclude on June 30. As chair, Daleo has played a critical role in the University’s growth and strategic advancement. He and his wife, Linda, support multiple educational institutions in New York City.
Armando Nuñez, the chair-elect of the Board of Trustees, thanked Daleo for “sharing his wisdom, insights, and experience.”
Daleo said that he was used to celebrating and recognizing other Founder’s Award honorees, “women and men, recognized for success in living the Fordham mission, each in their own way, giving of themselves, being men and women for others.”
“When we honor them, we celebrate Fordham,” he said. “We recognize the importance of its mission and its continued relevance in today’s world.”
Daleo called on those in attendance to continue to support Fordham’s work and its students as the University works toward its “third century” of educating students.
“This kind of support has never been more necessary for us to sustain the currency of our educational programs, build new infrastructure, and to support as many students as possible,” he said.
(Watch the Daleos’ Founder’s Award speech here.)
Providing Educational Opportunities
Thomas Lamberti, a Fordham President’s Council member, is a retired labor and employment lawyer who practiced law for more than 60 years. He and his wife, Eileen, have supported numerous initiatives at Fordham, including the Elizabeth A. Johnson Endowed Scholarship for women in theology as well as the vocal group Highbridge Voices, which performed at the dinner and has an ongoing partnership with Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning.
Lamberti, a son of Italian immigrants, said that he believed his legacy was “to give the same educational opportunities that I had” to sons and daughters of immigrants. He also spoke of his growing awareness of the civil rights movement—and the effects of segregation in the South—while serving in the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s at what was then Turner Air Force Base in Albany, Georgia.
He said that he and his wife, Eileen—whom he compared to St. Therese of Lisieux, since she “scatters flowers of love wherever life takes her”—returned to the South last year to visit Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham, Alabama. In Birmingham, he was struck by a mural dedicated to the memory of John Lewis, the late congressman and civil rights leader. It featured a quote of his: “If you come together with a mission, and it’s grounded with love and a sense of community, you can make the impossible possible.”
“I am asking you wonderful people that are here tonight who are dedicated to Fordham, let’s join that mission,” Lamberti said. “Let’s educate children, particularly Black and brown children from poor sections of New York, and let’s make their dreams come true.”
(Watch the Lambertis’ Founder’s Award speech here.)
Supporting the Next Generation
Vin Scully, who died in August 2022, was the beloved voice of the Dodgers for 67 years and announcer for Major League Baseball on CBS and NBC. He got his start at WFUV, Fordham’s public media station, and was known as the “patron saint of WFUV Sports.” Scully left $1 million each to Fordham and Fordham Prep after he died.
“This award celebrates his life, his legacy, and the traditions and values he held so dear, and shaped how he led his life,” his daughter Erin Scully said upon accepting the award in his honor. “He learned these traditions and values while at Fordham University.”
Scully said that her father provided financial support and mentorship to students because he “knew the responsibility he had to nurture the next generation in those same values and traditions he had been taught.”
(Watch Erin Scully accept the award on behalf of her father.)
‘One of the Best Experiences of My Life’
Sharissa Fernandes, GABELLI ’23, told the more than 850 attendees that their support has helped her find her interests, passion, and a career. Fernandes said that when she started at Fordham, she wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do, but through the support of mentors like Father Vin DeCola, S.J., Fernandes found success as a global business student at the Lincoln Center campus. She graduated in December and is about to join Deloitte, where she interned, as a cybersecurity analyst.
“Since freshman year itself, the Gabelli School has constantly placed a huge emphasis on conducting business with a purpose,” she said. “The University’s Jesuit values, morals, and ethics in carrying out business along with building strong relationships has been one of my biggest takeaways from the University that I am immensely grateful for.”
Fernandes said the University also supported her and her friends when they traveled to Washington, D.C., to “meet and interview Uyghur detention camp survivors.” She said that many of these opportunities were possible thanks to the support of the donors in the room.
“Being at Fordham, and a part of this cura personalis-driven education program, has been one of the best experiences of my life,” she said. “All of us here tonight owe a huge part of it to all of you, so thank you.”
(Watch Fernandes’ speech here.)
The night also featured a video recap showing where past Founder’s scholars have gone after leaving Fordham.
Madeline Felix-Tyler, a 2008 Fordham College at Lincoln Center graduate, said she was among the second-ever group of Founder’s scholars.
“Through this program you have supported 140 scholars. These are students who would not have benefited from our fine Jesuit, Catholic education without your overwhelming support and yes, generosity,” she said. “I can tell you personally, you have impacted our career paths and our lives.”
The night also featured multiple performances. Highbridge Voices, a performing arts group made up of elementary to high school students from the Bronx, kicked off the evening with moving renditions of the songs “No Time” and “I’ll Be on My Way.” And Fordham College at Rose Hill first-year student Alexa Carmona performed the national anthem.
Joshua Screen, a Founder’s scholar and Fordham College at Lincoln Center junior, said that the theme of the evening, “Where Dreams Take Us,” inspired him “to share something very special with all of you—so naturally I wrote a song called ‘Our Story.’” Screen conducted a debut performance of the song with Valeria Fernandez, a first-year Fordham College at Lincoln Center student, and Cade Parker, a first-year Fordham College at Lincoln Center student who is also a Founder’s scholar.
“We can be our own writers for the stories we make,” the students sang. “The future’s looking much brighter, and with our light we can lead the way.”
At the end of the evening, the surprise closing act brought the audience to its feet: President Tania Tetlow joined members of the University Choir in performing “How Can I Keep from Singing?”