CSI to Host Second Annual "Celestial Ball" in Support of Student Scholarships

The College of Staten Island will host its second annual scholarship gala, the “CSI Celestial Ball: Reaching for the Stars,” on Saturday, December 4, 2010 at the Richmond County Country Club. The reception begins at 6:30pm.

This year’s honorees are Salvatore J. Cassano, Fire Commissioner of the City of New York; Dolores N. Morris, retired Vice President, HBO Family Channel: Development, Production, and Acquisition; and Dr. Fred Naider, CUNY Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at CSI, and Leonard and Esther Kurtz Term Professor.

Whereas CSI’s annual tuition of $4,600 compares favorably with the national average for public higher education, 75% of the College’s student body works and raises a family while attending CSI. The sponsorship dollars raised by the Ball will allow students to focus on their academic careers and excel in the future. Many CSI graduates go into highly successful careers and attend the most prestigious graduate, MD, and PhD programs in the country.

Staten Island as a community is enriched by the rich mosaic of students at CSI, representing more than 80 countries, many of whom are first-generation college students. CSI has more than 55,000 alumni representing a broad spectrum of professions and disciplines across the country, with 30,000 residing on Staten Island.

CSI recently welcomed its largest incoming class of more than 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Although students come to CSI from all five boroughs of New York City and parts of New Jersey, three-fourths are from Staten Island.

Last year’s Celestial Ball was an overwhelming success, completely filling the Country Club. It raised more than $500,000, creating ten new permanent endowments that will generate scholarships in perpetuity. More than $75,000 in scholarship support was awarded this academic year.

Committee Chairs include Joseph Ricciutti, President of the Staten Island Yankees, CSI alumnus with a BS in Business Management (’94); Dr. Christine Cea, President of the Friends of CSI, scientist at the Institute for Basic Research, and CSI alumna with a BA in Psychology (’88); and Donna Fauci, member of the Board of Directors of the CSI Alumni Association, Admissions Counselor, Program Coordinator with CSI’s Office of Recruitment and Admissions, and CSI alumna (’96, ’03).

Proceeds from the “CSI Celestial Ball: Reaching for the Stars” will again provide direct support to eligible students in need at CSI. Tickets to the black tie-preferred event cost $250 per person or $450 per couple, and are tax deductible as allowed by law. Responses are requested by November 15, 2010.

Sponsorship at the $25,000 and $50,000 levels will include the option to sponsor a “named endowed scholarship” opportunity at CSI. Support of $10,000 includes a limited named scholarship for three years. The scholarship can be given criteria, such as minimum GPA, based on academic excellence, or by major (i.e., Engineering, Nursing). There are many more benefits to these sponsorship levels, as well as additional sponsorship categories. Journal ads are another way to provide your support.

“The Celestial Ball is an opportunity for everyone to join the College of Staten Island in our mission of providing a world-class and transformational education to our students,” commented Barbara Eshoo, CSI Vice President for Institutional Advancement and External Affairs. “On behalf of the Celestial Ball Chairs and Committee, as well as the faculty, staff, and administration of CSI, let me say ‘thank you’ in advance for your generous support. I look forward to seeing you at the Richmond County Country Club.”

The CSI Celestial Ball on Saturday, December 4, 2010 begins with a reception at 6:30pm, and a four-course dinner and program at 7:30pm. The Richmond County Country Club is located at 135 Flagg Place, Staten Island, New York. Valet parking will be provided.

For tickets and more information, call the CSI Advancement Office at 718.982.2365 or visit the CSI Foundation Website.

2010 Honorees:
Salvatore J. Cassano is the Fire Commissioner of the City of New York, appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg effective January 1, 2010. He is the 32nd Fire Commissioner in the 145-year history of the New York City Fire Department. A resident of Staten Island, Commissioner Cassano has 40 years of experience in the FDNY, has held every uniformed rank, and heads the world’s largest fire department with more than 16,000 fire, EMS, and civilian members and an annual budget of $1.6 billion. Prior to his appointment by the Mayor, Commissioner Cassano served as the FDNY’s Chief of Department, the highest-ranking uniformed officer, from 2006 through 2010. Both as Chief of Operations and Chief of Department, Commissioner Cassano played a crucial role in rebuilding the Department in the wake of September 11, 2001 and the loss of 343 members of the Department. In the years that followed, more than 6,000 new firefighters were hired and 3,000 others promoted to various officer ranks as the Department went through a difficult but remarkable resurgence. Not only is the FDNY better equipped, trained, and prepared than ever before in its history, it also has achieved unprecedented success with the fewest civilian fire fatalities ever and the fastest response times on record. In March 2010 Commissioner Cassano was recognized at the Annual Literacy Leadership Luncheon sponsored by the SI Historical Society for his efforts to provide fire safety literature in multiple languages within NY’s diverse communities. In September 2010 Commissioner Cassano received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The DaVinci Society at Wagner College. He’s been honored within the FDNY five times for bravery. Commissioner Cassano grew up in Brooklyn and is a lifelong resident of New York City. He and his wife, Theresa, reside in Staten Island. They have five children and three grandchildren.

Dolores N. Morris is the retired Vice President, HBO Family Channel: Development, Production, and Acquisition. Her responsibilities included the development of original programming, programming acquisitions, marketing, and interstitials for the network’s family-oriented multiplex channel. Prior to her position at HBO, Ms. Morris was Vice President, Program Development at the Children’s Television Workshop. In addition she has served in a variety of high-profile roles in the entertainment industry, including Vice President of Walt Disney Television Animation, Vice President of the Walt Disney Company’s The Wonderful World of Disney, and Director of Children’s Programming at the American Broadcasting Company. Ms. Morris was a teacher at Presidio Hill School in San Francisco, where she developed contemporary history and music curricula still in use. She is a member of Staten Island’s Port Richmond High School Alumni Hall of Fame, where as a teacher she implemented alternative learning programs for dysfunctional students. A native Staten Islander, she is the recipient of a number of professional awards, including five Emmy, four ACT, ten Christopher, and three Peabody awards. She is the producer of an Oscar-winning short film, The Children’s March. Ms. Morris is a Lay Speaker in the Methodist Church, a member of the NAACP, and a member of the YMCA Executive Board. She is a board member of SINY, the Downtown Staten Island Council, and the Staten Island Museum. She is currently serving her sixth year on the CSI Foundation Board of Directors.

Dr. Fred Naider is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the College of Staten Island and a member of the Doctoral Faculty at The City University of New York. He has been the Leonard and Esther Kurtz Term Professor at CSI for the last decade. Dr. Naider began his association with CUNY in 1973 as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Richmond College. Over the last 35 years, he has authored more than 230 refereed publications, received greater than $9 million in extramural grants, mentored nearly 20 doctoral students and 40 post-doctoral colleagues, and has received a number of honors. Since 2003 when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded him with a $1.4 million grant that placed him into an elite group of investigators who have received continuous NIH funding for more than 30 years, Dr. Naider’s NIH grant was renewed and he received additional funds from the National Science Foundation and the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation. In 2010 one of his PhD students attended the prestigious The Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany. Today, he continues his work, exploring the frontiers of peptide, biopolymer, and biochemistry research and as a widely respected teacher. He is the husband of the former Anita Joy Serle and the proud father of four children, Avi, Shoshana, Rachel and Elana, and 16 grandchildren.