President’s Dinner boasts record contributions, honors three

The Ninth Annual St. John’s University President’s Dinner, held at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan, amassed more than $2 million dollars in revenue, according to a University published report.
The event featured three awardees for the 2006 Spirit of Service Award, given to “individuals whose vision, accomplishments and good works embody the essence of St. Vincent de Paul and reflect the mission of the University,” according to this year’s President’s Dinner journal.
Mike Francessa, WFAN Sports Radio personality and 1977 graduate, was the gala’s Master of Ceremonies. The radio host mixed praise with jovial criticism as he applauded the presence of former St. John’s men’s basketball coaching legend Lou Carnesecca and joked with current coach Norm Roberts.
After introducing the coach, who was seated to the right of the stage, Francessa joked “If you have another 12-15 year they’ll have your table outside.”
The night closed with a speech from University President Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M. After thanking those in attendance, including donors and contributors to the nights events, his speech soon segued into a chronology of St. John’s both financially and historically.
After detailing the success of this year’s Capital Campaign, a fundraising effort led by Harrington which raised over $271 million for the University, Harrington read from a letter he received from Nora Donegan, a 1956 St. John’s graduate.
“Dear Father Harrington,” he read, “I played the DVD the University sent me last month [which detailed the history of St. John’s]. What a sense of joy it gave me! It made me realize that St. John’s University today is essentially no different from the St. John’s I knew 50 years ago. Its body is stronger but its soul is the same, and in that I can truly rejoice.”
Harrington went on to reflect on this last line, explaining how the body of St. John’s, now of over 20,000 students, is stronger today than it was years ago.
He then closed by explaining how St. John’s “soul is the same,” as he detailed St. John’s various service projects and its many honorable students and alumni, including the awardees of this year’s Spirit of Service Award.
“St. John’s University,” Harrington closed, “its body is stronger but its soul is the same, and in that I can truly rejoice.”