Adelphi gala supports student scholarships

The Island Now
In 1974, Adelphi's 7 Sisters' first reunion after college days. Rear, from left: Charlotte (Matthews) Harris, Lorene Wilkerson, Diane (Hunter) Hazel, Lavida (Robinson) Allen, and Renaye (Brown) Cuyler. Seated: Joyce (Barnett) Montague and Jacquelyn Lendsey.

Honorees include the ‘Adelphi 7 Sisters,’ Attorney Who Fought for 9/11 First Responders

Seven trendsetting African-American women and a prominent trial lawyer will be honored at the 18th annual Adelphi University President’s Gala on Saturday, June 16, in Garden City. Sportscaster and Adelphi alumnus Al Trautwig is the master of ceremonies.

The University’s largest fundraising event, the gala supports student scholarships. Adelphi provides more than $67 million in need and merit-based awards to its approximately 5,000 undergraduates from across the country.

Still, unmet financial needs for some students remain. To help close these gaps, net proceeds from the Gala will establish the endowed President’s Student Success Scholarship. The endowed scholarship qualifies for the Board of Trustees’ $5,000,000 Scholarship Challenge Match, resulting in the annual payout of the scholarship being matched dollar for dollar in perpetuity.

“Funds from the gala will help students most in need – particularly those nearing graduation and running out of funding,” said President Christine M. Riordan. “We’re excited about honoring these worthy Adelphi graduates and at the same time building financial resources for our students.”

Nearly five decades ago, seven African American women—Renaye (Brown) Cuyler ’70, Lavida (Robinson) Allen ’72, Charlotte (Matthews) Harris ’69, Jacquelyn Lendsey ’71, Joyce (Barnett) Montague ’69, Lorene Wilkerson ’69 (formerly Lawrene Street), and the late Diane (Hunter) Hazel ’69—found each other at what was then a predominantly white Adelphi University.

They gathered in places like the dining hall, where they often stayed until closing, to share opinions and advice. Whether they were discussing issues surrounding civil rights, professors, parents, emotional support or boyfriends, they found comfort in each other.

Beginning in 1974, the seven reunited every five years in celebration of their life-changing time at Adelphi—and later decided to make it an annual reunion.

In 2012, they chose to establish an endowed scholarship fund to help support and inspire the life journeys of other African-American women students at Adelphi.

They say the scholarship is also a way for their special bond to live beyond them — as a tribute to, and a legacy of, their friendship. At the gala, the Adelphi 7 Sisters will be honored with the President’s Award for Philanthropic Leadership.

Adelphi also will honor Nicholas Papain ’74, partner with the prominent New York personal injury law firm Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. Papain, who has been with the firm since graduating from American University’s Washington College of Law in 1978, served as its managing partner for almost 20 years. A Long Island resident, he is president of the Parish Council of the Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church in Port Washington.

Papain played a key role in Sullivan Papain’s representation of the State of New York in its lawsuit against the major tobacco companies, which resulted in a historic $25 billion recovery for the state plus other relief projected to save the lives of more than 75,000 New Yorkers.

He also played a major role in the negotiation of a $700 million settlement for injured 9/11 World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers. At the gala, Papain will receive Adelphi’s President’s Award for Distinguished Service.


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