More than 1,000 members of New York City society and the Fordham community gathered in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria on March 27 to honor business executive Rose Marie Bravo (TMC ’71) and Wall Street veteran Paul B. Guenther (FCRH ’62) during the 5th Annual Fordham Founder’s Award Dinner.

The gala raised $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.

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University (left) and Fordham Board of Trustees Chair John Tognino (second from left) with the 2006 Founder’s Award recipients, Rose Marie Bravo and Paul B. Guenther. Photo by Jon Roemer

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, thanked those in attendance for making it possible for Fordham to provide students of extraordinary talent with a peerless education and to prepare them for service to others.

“This is the mission Fordham has pursued with vigor, excellence and focus for 165 years,” said Father McShane.

The event attracted more than a few high-profile guests, including actor-comedians Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara; best-selling author Mary Higgins Clark (FCLC ’79); General John M. Keane (CBA ’66), former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army; Charles Osgood (FCRH ’54), the longtime anchor of CBS News Sunday Morning; former New York Knicks basketball star Dick Barnett, Ed.D. (GSE ’91); Tony Award-winning actress Marian Seldes; and the Hon. Timothy O’Connor, consul general of Ireland.

NBC News Anchor Felicia Taylor served as the evening’s master of ceremonies and former President Bill Clinton offered a videotaped message of thanks to the Fordham community for contributing more than $95,000 to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort and opening “their hearts, classrooms and dorm rooms,” to 104 displaced students during the fall 2005 semester. The evening concluded with a rousing rendition of the “Fordham Ram” performed by the Ramblers, the Fordham University a capella group.

Upon receiving the Fordham Founder’s Award, Guenther, the chairman of the New York Philharmonic and former president of PaineWebber Group Inc., thanked the University for giving him a “superb, well-rounded education, a sense of what is right in the world” and, ultimately, an introduction to his wife, Diane.

Bravo, chief executive of Burberry, acknowledged her parents in the audience and thanked them for insisting that she pursue a college education. Fordham, she said, “reinforced the core values my parents instilled in me growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s, solidified my Christian faith and taught me life lessons.”

Edward Cardinal Egan, archbishop of New York, delivered the invocation, praying for students and faculty to “pursue truth with total dedication… [and]to treasure the University as a blessing for which we will ever be grateful to [Fordham’s founder] Archbishop John Hughes for laying the groundwork so well, and to the Jesuits for building on that foundation with immense self-sacrifice and heavenly love.”

The dinner co-chairs were Richard F. Bonini (CBA ’60); James E. Buckman, Esq. (FCRH ’66); John P. Kehoe (FCRH ’60, FCLC ’85); Gerold F. L. Klauer (FCRH ’64); Frank J. Petrilli (CBA ’72, GBA ’74); Peter J. Sacripanti, Esq. (FCLS ’82); John N. Tognino (FCLS ’75); and William D. Walsh (FCRH ’51).