SOM gala celebrates spirit of innovation
The School of Management applauds its successes and strong network of alumni, and looks to the future
Binghamton University’s School of Management (SOM) gathered its strongest supporters, family and friends for a special evening in the heart of New York City to celebrate its successes and champion its future.
Students, prominent alumni, and corporate and media leaders were among the more than 400 guests in attendance for the second School of Management Fundraising Gala, which was held Nov. 2 in the historic ballroom of the storied Grand Hyatt New York.
Tony Kornheiser ’70, a host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, was master of ceremonies. He entertained guests throughout the evening with amusing anecdotes that included a story of his recent venture into the restaurant business.
School of Management Dean Upinder Dhillon applauded the school’s recent accomplishments and highlighted its dynamic nature, which continues to adapt its academics to ever-changing times.
“As we progress through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we’re developing new approaches to educating and providing students with the skills necessary to become business leaders of tomorrow,” he said. “Our cutting-edge programs and dynamic learning environment offer students a high-impact, experiential education.”
Part of that experiential education includes the development of an Innovation Lab, a cross-discipline program that will enroll its first students in fall 2018. Over three years, students from across the University will identify real-world problems, design and prototype products that serve as solutions, and then deliver pitches to bring their innovations to the marketplace.
Funds raised from the gala will be used to support the Innovation Lab and the Dean’s Excellence Fund. The fund allows the school to provide more merit- and need-based aid to students, attract and retain faculty, and foster academic and professional programming.
In his speech, Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger introduced the story of George Nuñez. Nuñez, who grew up around violence and poverty in the South Bronx, didn’t think he’d ever go to college or even live past age 21. When he was granted an opportunity to attend the School of Management, he learned that success is possible.
The emotional impact of Nuñez’s story swept the room. “There are over 17,000 more stories like that at Binghamton University,” Stenger said. “We have a goal to be the premier public university. Period.”
Stenger presented the University Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the University, to Charles Kim ’98 and David Penski ’97, two alumni who have made lasting impacts on the School of Management.
Kim, who graduated with a bachelor’s in management, is the managing partner of the Alpine Securities Group, a proprietary trading firm he founded in 2004. He and his wife, Jean Su Kim, have been generous supporters of Binghamton University and the School of Management, creating numerous full scholarships to support Korean/Korean American and U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) students in SOM.
A surprise video featuring a testimonial from one of the USVI scholarship recipients further solidified the impact Kim’s contributions have had on the lives of many students.
Kim spoke about how his Binghamton experience prepared him for the real world and urged the audience to reflect on their own college years and find ways to help future generations of Binghamton students.
“I hope you’ll join me in turning these dreams into a reality,” he said.
Penski, the CEO of Publicis Media Exchange, serves as a member of the SOM Metro Advisory Board. He has been actively involved in developing student talent through scholarships and the creation of a Strategic Media Planning course. Each year, Penski returns to campus to present a new project for the class and reviews the progress of the students. He also established the SOM Career Services Support Fund to provide student assistance for professional development.
On how he was able to accomplish so much at a young age, Penski cited the value of a Binghamton education. “I had a great education at a very fair price,” he said. “I wasn’t buried in debt because of it.”
President Stenger wrapped up the event with one final call to action — find a way to help Binghamton in its mission to continue transforming lives and shaping the world. There was much to celebrate, and there will be more to celebrate as Binghamton University and the School of Management continue to innovate and grow with the help of its strong network of alumni.