Golden Gala Raises Money in Style

By Adam Zielonka

This article was originally published in Issue 11, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (March 24, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue.

DeSales University hosted its 35th annual dinner dance on Saturday, March 19 at Billera Hall. In honor of the university’s 50th anniversary, the theme this year was “Golden Gala.”

The black tie event is the single highest-earning fundraiser for the school each year. All proceeds are allocated toward student financial aid, something Lina Barbieri, executive director of annual giving, is proud to note. “I think students would be surprised and encouraged by the amount of dollars we are able to put into financial aid each year because of this event and the support of the community, friends and alumni of DeSales,” said Barbieri before the gala. “This year we will raise $180,000 for financial aid for our students, the vast majority of whom receive some form of aid. Our nearly 800 guests are happy to support our students in this way.”

Golden Gala featured  elegant drapes of fabric for decorations. Photo by Adam Zielonka.
Golden Gala featured elegant drapes of fabric for decorations. Photo by Adam Zielonka.

Donors got their money’s worth for their $225 tickets. A cocktail hour at 7 p.m. kicked off the night, followed by a dinner of herb-encrusted beef tenderloin with Bordelaise sauce and sea bass with crab meat. The full bar remained open to accompany the night of dancing. The Philadelphia-based Rich Postmontier Ensemble returned to DeSales to provide the evening’s music.

The recreational courts in Billera were transformed into a dance hall thanks to the decorations designed by Will Neuert, the head of design for the Division of Performing Arts. These decorations included gold and purple drapes of fabric and a gold university seal; theater design students had a hand in building two giant chandeliers that hung over the room. The finishing touch was an ice sculpture honoring the anniversary.

It was Class of 2006 alumna Devon Diaz’s first time attending a DeSales dinner dance. Once a double major in psychology and criminal justice at DeSales and now a captain in the U.S. Army, she was excited to learn she would be visiting the area when the Golden Gala was being held, saying “this school’s my home.”

Golden Gala featured a commemorative ice sculpture. Photo by Adam Zielonka.
Golden Gala featured a commemorative ice sculpture. Photo by Adam Zielonka.

“I think I just want to soak it in, and then hopefully come to more,” said Capt. Diaz. “Seeing the reviews of how amazing the events have been in the past, I really wanted to experience it and of course support the school.”

By contrast, it was not the first dinner dance for Dr. Mary Ellen Miller, associate professor in the Masters of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs. However, this year was especially notable for her and all faculty, thanks to a generous gift the administration made.

“All faculty are always invited, but because it’s the 50th anniversary, Father O’Connor extended a special invitation for a free ticket for [each] faculty and a guest,” said Miller.

Barbieri said the event is executed by the institutional advancement office, led by Director of Special Events Diane Moeser, as well as an event manager who leads the team that takes care of decorations and food.

It was fitting that Bulldog Bash was held the next day in Billera underneath the same decorations used for Golden Gala, for it was this event that funded the financial aid of those incoming freshmen.

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