Scholarship money raised at gala

Story by Kyle Davis

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Phones and letters generally used as fundraising tools were exchanged for formalwear and an auction at the third annual Baker University Gala Nov. 20 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Mo.

A dinner and silent auction, which contained more than 60 items, as well as the option to give a cash donation in a live auction, made up the evening for 320 guests. Guests included alumni and corporate sponsors, as well as members of the Baker community.

“The gala raises money, but it also raises awareness,” Lyn Lakin, vice president for university advancement, said. “It’s a way to engage our alumni and engage our community.”

Roughly $75,000 was raised at the gala, however, Baker alumnus Andrew Cherng, who is the founder of Panda Restaurant Group, will match the amount raised, making the total around $150,000. The money raised will go to Baker students in the university’s annual scholarship fund.

“It was about Baker,” Chief Operating Officer Susan Lindahl said. “It wasn’t about going out and just feeling good about the evening, it was going out and it was about Baker students and feeling good about helping Baker students.”

This year’s total of about $150,000 will be an increase from last year’s gala, which raised around $100,000. Also increased from last year’s gala was the amount of corporate sponsors and higher biddings on the auctioned items.

“There are a couple of things we always try to do, in that, of course raise money, that’s the reason we have the gala,” University President Pat Long said. “But the second is, and this is really important, is to showcase Baker and for people who don’t know Baker. To see Baker, as a whole.”

Four videos were also shown, highlighting students from all Baker’s programs, and Lindahl said the videos really told the stories of the students.

“The students’ stories truly touch your heart and that’s really what it’s all about,” Lindahl said.

The event has continued to grow in its third year, and Lakin said she would love for the gala to have 500 people in the room in upcoming years.

“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to showcase Baker, and that’s what we do,” Lakin said. “We have videos that speak to our four academic units and the excellence of our students, and it really is, it’s a great event and it just makes us feel so proud. Or, more than that, we always feel proud, but we get to display our pride.”