Penn State McKeesport?s third annual ?All That?s Jazz? scholarship benefit did all that it was supposed to do on Saturday night. At the close of the November 4 event, Master of Ceremonies Sheldon Ingram of WTAE-TV announced that the event had raised $50,500, surpassing the $50,000 fundraising goal established by the Advisory Board. The total continues to rise as contributions are added.
?Our volunteers and supporters outdid themselves,? said Chancellor Curtiss E. Porter, Ph.D. ?In just three short years we have raised more than $110,000 for student scholarships. As our three student speakers told the crowd, receiving a scholarship takes away some of the financial burden of attending college and allows them to concentrate on their studies and the co-curricular experiences offered at our campus.?
A crowd of 245 alumni, friends, students, faculty and staff gathered in the campus Student Community Center, which was transformed into a sophisticated jazz nightclub. Stunning flower arrangements designed by Jim Miller of James Miller Interiors and whimsical balloon displays and event decor designed by Laurie Lieb of Festivities adorned the building.
First-year students Jose Almonte of Florida, Daniella Asantewaa of New York, and Adam Howells of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, thanked the donors on behalf of all the scholarship recipients. Posters featuring students who received scholarships as a result of last year?s event were also on display to show guests how their gifts are helping support a diverse group of students.
The highlight of the evening was the performance of jazz greats Warren Vaché, Joe Negri, Benny Benack Jr., David Pellow, Thomas Wendt and Tom Roberts. The musicians captivated the crowd with their performances on the William A. Seifert Jr. Stage. Vaché, Negri and Benack wowed the crowed with ?Medley of Memories of You,? ?Watch What Happens,? and ?Nancy with the Laughing Face.? Another crowd favorite was Duke Ellington?s ?In a Mellow Tone,? also known as ?In a Pellow Tone? when played by David Pellow. Benny Benack III, a third-generation jazz musician, played trumpet with his father and veterans Vaché and Negri during the second set. The Arbor Tribe, a jazz string quartet from Carnegie Mellon University, entertained guests in the Robert and Elizabeth Ostermayer Room.
Guests enjoyed delicious cuisine prepared by the campus Housing and Food Services staff. A live auction, silent auction and the Blue and White ?mystery? auction netted $6,730 for the scholarship fund. Visitors also had the opportunity to enjoy the ?Visualizing Jazz? exhibit on loan from the collection of Dr. Caryl Sheffield and her husband, Penn State Professor Dr. James Stewart. Artworks included Blues by Elizabeth Catlett, New York Café by Benny Andrews, and a glass sculpture of Jimi Hendrix by Samuel Hodge.
Assisting Co-Chairs Nancy Traina and Nancy Seifert in leadership roles were: Sponsorship Co-Chairs Mary Del Brady, Joseph M. Hohman and Advisory Board President Jacob N. Skezas, along with Host Committee Co-Chairs Reverend Earlene Coleman and Cliff Wise. They were joined by Dr. George Crawford and David J. Pasternak, co-chairs of the Auction Committee, and Publicity Chair Chris Miles. These volunteers were supported by Advisory Board members, community leaders, alumni, friends, and faculty, students and staff, all working to make the event a success.
Honorary Committee members supporting the event included: Arthur L. Baldwin, Suzy and Jim Broadhurst, Franco Harris, William E. Trueheart and Carol A. Word, Tom Hollander, Brandon Short, The Honorable Dan and Shelly Onorato, and Bill and Rose Strickland.
All That?s Jazz underwriters included: Entertainment Underwriter Nancy Seifert, and Benefactors Duquesne Light and Jay and Kim Weitzel. Supporters at the Patron level included Directed Electronics, Eat?n Park Hospitality Group, Gulf Materials, LLC, Ruth Hunt, and Nancy and John Traina.
Members of the Chancellor?s Circle included: Mrs. Nadine E. Bognar, Lou Anne Caligiuri, Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, Mark R. Gruskin, George and Ann Kemp, Dr. Curtiss E. Porter, RedPath Integrated Pathology, Inc., Resource Development Management, Inc., Dr. Margaret L. Signorella, H.B. South Printers, and Clifford and Barbara Wise. Sponsors also included event Ambassadors: Tom and Judy Bruney, Edward and Dorothy Datemasch, Tom Hollander, Jendoco Construction Corporation, Dr. and Mrs. Michael Kutsenkow, the Mon Yough Chamber of Commerce, Ross Nese, Vic and Patty Orler, David J. Pasternak, Penn State McKeesport Faculty and Staff Fund, Gary L. Thomas, UPMC McKeesport, Kirk and Charlene Urey, and Jay and Pat Winter.
All proceeds from the benefit will be added to the Penn State McKeesport Scholarship fund. Close to one-half?46%?of the students enrolled at the campus represent the first generation in their family to attend college, and many depend on grants, loans, and scholarships to pay for their education.
?The event was successful in raising awareness of the importance of providing more scholarship assistance to our students,? said Pat Quinn Winter, director of development. ?We are grateful to all our supporters who helped us reach our goal and are providing our students with the gift of education.?
Anyone interested in donating to the Penn State McKeesport Scholarship Fund can learn more by calling the Office of Institutional Advancement at 412-675-9048.