Highlights of the Leadership Gala

Music BuildingThe Lehman Leadership Gala, held October 23 at Bridgewater's in the South Street Seaport area, celebrated the 40th anniversary of Lehman College and honored outstanding figures from two different worlds—music and business. The event drew close to 300 alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students, who came from as far away as Texas and California, and raised $500,000 in scholarship funds for Lehman students.

Bronx-born Al Carey, president and CEO of Frito-Lay North America, received the Lehman Leadership Award, and Emmy Award-winning musician and composer, Michael Bacon (Class of 1995), received the Alumni Achievement Award.

In his opening remarks, Lehman President Ricardo R. Fernández noted that "CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein often describes scholarship support as an investment in the future— not only in the future of these particular individuals and their families but also in the future of our city, our industries and professions, and our democracy itself. Each of you has made this critical investment. I can promise you, unequivocally, that your faith in our College and in these bright young men and women will reap the highest possible return, both in human and economic terms." In recognizing Mr. Carey, President Fernández praised him as "an exceptionally capable corporate leader who has steered his company into the future” and also saluted his “deep concern for the education and development of the next generation of America’s workers and leaders."

Accepting the award, Mr. Carey recalled his Bronx roots, the many times he had run as a teenager in track races at Van Cortlandt Park, and the several members of his family who had studied at Lehman. At Frito-Lay, he has been instrumental in building both scholarship funds and internship opportunities for Lehman students. Citing Mia Rodriguez as an example of the quality of Lehman's graduates, he noted that the 2005 alumna, who was present at the gala, has been promoted four times since first being hired by the firm after her graduation. He also made the surprise announcement—to a standing ovation—that he was establishing a $50,000 scholarship fund at Lehman in the name of his family.

Later in the evening, President Fernández joined with Distinguished Professor of Music John Corigliano in presenting the Alumni Achievement Award to Mr. Bacon, who has scored twelve feature films and hundreds of hours of primetime television shows, including a series of acclaimed PBS documentaries.

Speaking of their time working together, as teacher and student, Prof. Corigliano—winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, an Academy Award, and three Grammys—remembered, in particular, a score Mr. Bacon had been creating for a period film set in the Victorian era, and went on to describe the enormous talent he has found over the last 30 years in the orchestration and composition classes he has taught at Lehman. In the citation accompanying the award, Mr. Bacon was honored for using his creative gifts “to express both the struggles and triumphs of Americans past and present” and for providing “an inspiring example of excellence and dedication” for the next generation of Lehman musicians.

Thanking Prof. Corigliano and the College for all that he had learned at Lehman, Mr. Bacon, in return, said that the best way he could show his appreciation was through a special performance with his brother, actor Kevin Bacon. Known as The Bacon Brothers, the pair has recorded five CD’s and made numerous appearances in concert tours and on television. Their half-hour performance, set against the dramatic background of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan, again brought the audience to its feet.

Guiding the evening’s festivities as Master of Ceremonies was Grammy-nominated concert violinist Philippe Quint, who gave a rousing rendition of a work he had recently recorded that was written by Prof. Corigliano. “As the M.C.,” he quipped, “I’m delighted to introduce myself.” Switching gears musically, he also joined in to accompany the Bacon Brothers during their performance. Among the distinguished guests at the event were Raul Yzaguirre, retired president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, CUNY Trustees Jeffrey Wiesenfeld and Dr. Hugo Morales, and CUNY Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson. They were joined by alumni including Congressman Eliot Engel, who represents New York's 17th Congressional District, Carlos Ortiz, vice president and general counsel of Goya Foods, and retired educator Aramina Ferrer and her husband, former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer.

Last modified: Oct 13, 2011

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