University News

Scholarship Ball Raises $1.8 Million for University of New Haven Students

The Ball has now raised more than $1 million each year for the past five years.

April 27, 2018

Attendees of the 2018 Scholarship Ball
About 350 alumni and friends of the University attended the Scholarship Ball, held in the David A. Beckerman Recreation Center.

"Making an Impact" was the theme of the 35th Annual Alumni Scholarship Ball, and the event did just that, raising $1.8 million for students. The Ball, presented by Svigals + Partners, a leading architecture firm, has now raised more than $1 million each year for the past five years.

As part of the event that brought together students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters of the University, three distinguished alumni were honored: Michael H. Ambrose ’84, Carolyn L. Brehm ’96 MBA, and Vivian J. Kaplan ’80.

Ambrose, vice president of Engineering & Technology at Sikorsky Aircraft, had run out of money to pay for his education when he was offered an athletic scholarship at the University of New Haven. A member of the University’s track team, Ambrose set school records that still stand while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. A member of the University’s Board of Governors, he previously served as president of the Alumni Association’s board of directors. At the ball, Ambrose spoke about how proud he is to be a University graduate, and how grateful he is to be able to give back.

"One of the most special things about this kind of night, this kind of honor, is you get to say thank you to those who have been on this journey with you," he said.

Vivian Kaplan earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology after starting classes in her 40s. As the wife of then University president Phillip Kaplan she was a devoted student advocate and fundraiser. After completing her master’s degree, she became a family therapy and drug and alcohol counselor for the state of Connecticut.

"I can only accept this award as a representative of all those women and men who had the desire and the opportunity to continue their education later in life," she said. "I am certain that the experience they had broadened their perception and perspective of life and the world, as it did mine. It was a great adventure."

Brehm, who held senior management roles at GM and Procter and Gamble during her successful 40-year career in global government relations, public policy, foreign affairs, and business, recently launched Brehm Global Ventures, a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. She completed her MBA while living in Cyprus.

She said one of the highlights of the Scholarship Ball was interacting with students. "We are so impressed with the energy, the diversity, and the drive of the students we talked to," said Brehm. "These are talented men and women who will be the next leaders."

Phil Bartels, chair of the Board of Governors, was presented the President’s Award, one of the University’s most prestigious honors. Bartels, who will complete his term as chair at the end of June, is the son of longstanding University benefactors Hank and Nancy Bartels. He and his wife, Susan, have supported many important University initiatives, including scholarships and the University’s President’s Public Service Fellowship.

"As my father had put it so well, of all the charitable institutions and organizations in which he had been involved, it was here at the University of New Haven of which he was the proudest. And without question the same is true of me."Phil Bartels

In addition to the honorees, guests heard from Gio Roper, a junior psychology major. An endowed scholarship recipient, she discussed how her experiences at the University – especially her service as an Orientation leader and resident assistant – helped her develop into a leader. At the University of New Haven, she said, she discovered her passion for higher education, and plans to pursue a career in student affairs.

"Now, I truly believe that I can accomplish anything, no matter how challenging it may seem," Roper said. "My leadership roles at the University have also given me an opportunity to give back to my campus community, which is something I am very passionate about."

As part of the evening, guests also had the opportunity to meet students who displayed their projects in interactive showcases.

Students involved in the University’s Chapter of Engineers without Borders presented their work to bring communities in Ecuador sustainable methods for treating their drinking water. Guests also interacted with virtual reality artwork produced by students at Lyme, got an inside look into the University’s state-of-the-art health sciences simulation lab, learned about students in the Lee College’s efforts to combat forced child labor, and heard about a new cryptocurrency developed by a student-led startup company.