By Suzanne Weiss/Director of Public Relations
MANITOWOC, Wis. — The upbeat song, “Celebration,” set the tone for Silver Lake College’s 11th Annual Scholarship Gala on Saturday evening.
The sold-out event — and generous challenge- match grants from the Frank G. & Frieda K. Brotz Family Foundation, Inc. and the Ruth St. John and John Dunham West Foundation — helped Silver Lake College raise a record of more than $420,000 for current and endowed scholarships.
The overwhelming support underscored that the college is all about its students, its mission and the future rather than its leadership, said Dr. Chris E. Domes, who recently announced that he is stepping down as president of the college at the end of June.
He thanked the individuals, organizations and businesses who were represented at the event, presented by C.D. Smith Construction Services. Seehafer Broadcasting was a signature sponsor.
The more than 190 guests were treated to an elegant evening of fine dining provided by the Courthouse Pub, entertainment and auctions. Col. Kurt Johnson was auctioneer and emcee of the evening.
“Your hard work and scholarship dollars enable Silver Lake College to unlock opportunities that many young people won’t find anywhere else,” said guest speaker Dr. Michael Galligan-Stierle, president and CEO of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C.
He praised Silver Lake College for being the first Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States to adopt SLC Works, its Work College model. The initiative offers an enhanced educational experience integrating work, learning and service throughout a student’s college career.
“At a time when so many want to dismiss the liberal arts as a luxury for rich kids, Silver Lake College has found a viable way to maximize access to the fullness of a Catholic education through the very process of helping students learn practical everyday skills — and pay for college. I applaud your creativity, and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities is proud to count you as one of its own,” Dr. Galligan-Stierle said.
Dan McGinty, president and CEO of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries, Inc., praised the generosity of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, who founded and have supported the four-year liberal arts college throughout its 81-year history.
“I want to assure you even at a time of change, which we are going through right now, the board and the leadership of the Franciscan Sisters are committed to the future of Silver Lake College, committed to the vision that has been laid out, committed financially and we are rooted in making sure that the great work that Dr. Domes put into place with many others is seen through to its fruition,” he said.
McGinty also thanked Dr. Domes and his wife, Mary, for their four years of service to the college and the Lakeshore community.
Eric Volcheff, chair of the Silver Lake College Board of Trustees, praised Dr. Domes, as well as faculty and staff.
“First and foremost, Chris and his team recognized the importance of capitalizing on the growing need for nursing bachelor’s degrees. We already had a two-year nursing program and that was transformed into a four-year nursing degree, and we just had our first cohort of four-year nursing students this fall.”
He called the program, including its $1.6 million renovated nursing wing, an “outstanding accomplishment.”
Volcheff said that Silver Lake College also recognized the importance of athletics, leading the effort that resulted in its membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Domes and his team, Silver Lake College applications are up nearly 96 percent over last year, he said.
“We are dedicated to finding a leader who will champion the mission, vision and values that Chris set forth,” Volcheff said. “The last thing I want to say tonight is that it’s all about our students and after Chris departs, it will still be about our students.”
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PHOTO: Eric Volcheff, chair of the Silver Lake College Board of Trustees, from left, Dan McGinty, president and CEO of Francicsan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries, and Dr. Chris. E Domes, president of Silver Lake College, share a light-hearted moment at the 11th Annual Scholarship Gala on Saturday evening. Photo by Benjamin Wideman