2011 Annual Foundation Dinner to Benefit School of Business

Photo: Mike Peters

2011 Carpe Diem Award Recipient Douglas L. Kennedy

With the theme “Our Students Are Your Business,” the 2011 Montclair State University Foundation Annual Dinner, to be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, will focus on the exciting developments taking place in the University’s School of Business.

The theme speaks to the core of the School of Business’ mission and the commitment to provide students with the facilities and resources they need to lead in today’s changing and challenging business world.  Proceeds from the dinner will support the proposed 140,000-square-foot, state-of-art School of Business facility.

A highlight of the evening is the presentation of the Carpe Diem Award, awarded annually to a distinguished alumni or friend of the University for outstanding professional and personal achievements. Douglas L. Kennedy, State President, New Jersey for Capital One Bank, is the honoree for 2011.

Kennedy is not only one of the state’s most successful banking executives, but has been a member of Montclair State University’s Board of Trustees for more than a decade, and currently serves as its chair.  In addition to his service on the Board of Trustees, Kennedy was co-chair of the University’s Capital Campaign.

Kennedy recently developed a special networking training session for 12 Montclair State University business students who will attend the annual dinner and put the networking strategies they learned—pitching products, following through with new contacts, etc.—into practice. “Through unique opportunities like this, we are helping to prepare the next generation of business leaders for future success,” he said.

The dinner will also involve another group of Montclair State students. Guests arriving on the 7th floor of University Hall will step into a Conference Center that has been transformed into an elegant, sparkling cityscape, courtesy of the students in Winfield Parsons’ Advanced Studio Design Class.

Having students work behind the scenes on the room design further underscores this year’s business-related theme. Students spent four months on the project and created every aspect of the room’s big city feel—from the 360-degree skyline and lighted centerpieces to the dazzling 3-D acrylic chandelier hanging above the bar.

“They had to learn to work together and learn how to accept other people’s ideas and refine them,” Parsons said. “True design involves incremental improvements, not just inventing things.”

The students had to follow fire codes; create designs that would not be attached to the walls; make sure nothing blocked the view from the seats to the stage; and incorporate the food tables into the room design.

Senior Heather Rohllf added that the project gave her valuable experience that would help her after graduation. “This project prepared me for my career.  It was an opportunity to design not just for ourselves, but for a true client.”

At each stage of the design process, students presented their ideas to university officials. “We were very impressed with the level of sophisticated design delivered by these students,” said Jack Shannon, vice president for University Advancement.

Co-chairs of the Annual Dinner Committee are John Schmidt, first vice president at Merrill Lynch and chair of the University’s Foundation Board, and Susan Blount, senior vice president and general counsel at Prudential Financial, Inc., and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.