Every February, Stevens students, alumni and faculty put on their best formal attire to attend the annual Founder’s Day Ball, an event to commemorate the anniversary of the university’s founding on Feb. 15, 1870. Organized by the Student Government Association in collaboration with the Office of Student Life, the ball ensures the Stevens community celebrates Stevens’ rich history in style.
This year the event was held on Feb. 22 at the picturesque Harborside Financial Center in Jersey City, N.J. – the first time the event was held at an off-campus location. One of the most successful balls yet, with nearly 300 guests, the SGA reportedly sold out tickets, and attendance has more than doubled since the first ball was held in 2008.
“The event has evolved each year since as the interest and demand for participation has increased,” said Kristie Damell, associate director of the Office of Student Life.
The evening featured dinner, drinks, dancing and speakers. The speakers included SGA President Ashley Montufar, SGA Vice President Owen Jappen, Stevens President Nariman Farvardin and his wife, and Dean Michael Bruno of the School of Engineering and Science.
Bruno captivated the audience with an engaging PowerPoint presentation on the extensive history of Stevens starting with commercial sailing in the 1800s and ending with an announcement that Stevens will once again be participating in the America’s Cup in San Francisco this July.
Farvardin’s speech focused on the importance of Founder’s Day, saying it celebrates our founders “spirit of innovation” and their “foresight to see the value in education.”
In an exciting addition to the excellent speeches, former SGA President Teddy Poppe presented an award to Dean of Student Life Ken Nilsen in honor of his excellence as an advisor and confidante to students. The award – named the Kenneth Nilsen award – will be presented every year to a member of the Stevens community who shares these qualities.
Farvaradin also presented Nilsen with the President’s Pin which is bestowed periodically to deserving individuals.
Nilsen was humbled by the presentation and gave a very appreciative thank you speech.
For Stevens students, the talk of the night was all about the venue. Even though it was below freezing outside, students couldn’t resist having their picture taking by student photographer Phong Lai in front of the cityscape.
“It’s a great venue, good prices, good company, good food, but most importantly a great tradition,” said Kel Bancroft, an SGA officer
Ball-goer Eddie Bowlby said he decided to go to the ball as a reason to get dressed up and have a romantic getaway with his girlfriend.
SGA senator Sara Savoia said that getting dressed up was her favorite part.
“Founder’s Day brings everyone together from all the organizations to celebrate together as one,” Savoia said.
According to SGA senator Shelia Ahmady, this year’s venue was at capacity due to increased attendance from students, faculty and alumni. As the Founder’s Day Ball becomes an exciting tradition, alumni look forward to coming back to celebrate the Stevens legacy. The venue was perfect for dancing and many students and faculty members showed off their moves while dancing the night away.
“From our office’s perspective, it is important to remember where the institution began and celebrate the legacies and contributions of our founders,” said Damell. “Students should be aware of where we came from as an institution and recognize how far we have grown and continue to grow.”