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​Above: John O’Hurley ’76 & ’06Hon. rules the floor
during the Live Auction.
Below: Black and White Award recipient Kevin C.
Phelan ’66, right, with his wife, Anne, and College
President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80.

For event photos and videos, go to the alumni web site

Annual Fund-Raiser Pulls in Over $850,000 for College

With a celebrity auctioneer firing up the audience, Providence College’s chief annual fund-raiser shattered the record books.

The fourth annual A Night in Black & White, which was held on April 27 and primarily benefits the PC Fund, generated more than $850,000, far surpassing the previous high of $590,000 set in 2012. More than a quarter of the total was raised that evening, thanks largely to the efforts of John O’Hurley ’76 & ’06Hon., the acclaimed actor, game-show host, businessman, and PC trustee, who served as auctioneer.

Working the crowd like a Southie politician, O’Hurley turned the fund-raiser on its heels with a frenetic, often hilarious show of salesmanship. His Oscar-worthy performance left the 750 guests at the Boston Marriott Copley Plaza amused and bemused.

Through his prodding and persuasiveness during the Live Auction, O’Hurley spurred guests to bid more than $138,000 on 10 items — ranging from an original Louie’s bar sign to golf for six on Nantucket. 

Later, the Fund-A-Need appeal for the Angel Fund was jumpstarted with a $10,000 contribution from Ed Cooley, the Friars’ men’s basketball coach, who announced his gift in a video. Bidder cards followed Cooley’s leadership contribution, resulting in gifts of more than $90,000 for the Angel Fund, which supports students whose families have encountered sudden financial difficulties.

Held each spring, A Night in Black & White supports and celebrates PC. It is a pivotal opportunity to bolster the PC Fund, which supports the student experience and critical institutional operations and priorities.

Planned by a committee of more than 50 alumni, parents, and corporate partners, the fund-raiser includes food and wine pairings, awards presentations, video tributes and appeals, and live and silent auctions. This year’s awards honorees were Kevin C. Phelan ’66, who received the Black & White Award, and Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, which was presented the first Black & White Corporate Partner Award. The master of ceremonies was John Dolan ’01.

The event, coordinated by the Office of Institutional Advancement and the Office of College Events, is underscored by a strong commitment of generosity from corporate partners and individual contributors. This year, A Night in Black & White was backed by 164 sponsors, who contributed more than $500,000. Leading the way were gold sponsors Frank McCourt of the McCourt Group, Shawmut Design and Construction, and Barnes & Noble College Booksellers.

In addition to outright support for the PC Fund and the Angel Fund, donations were accepted to assist The One Fund Boston, which benefits victims of April’s Boston Marathon bombings.

“Electric” atmosphere

The event’s co-chairs, Colleen Cronin Duffy ’83 and Frank Duffy ’83, and Ted ’86 and Kim ’86 McNamara, couldn’t find enough adjectives to describe the special evening.

“It was fantastic. The feeling in the room was just electric. People seemed more engaged than ever before,” said the Duffys. “People were listening to the message (of being generous), and it was profound to see.”

The Duffys, who praised the attention to detail by staff in college events and institutional advancement, added that it was heartwarming to see alumni of all ages bonding. The energy level was certainly boosted by all the young alumni in attendance, they said.

Meanwhile, the McNamaras noted the feeling of connectivity that was present in the ballroom, saying parents and young alumni approached them at the end of the evening with looks and comments of pride.

“The spirit of the evening was most definitely palpable and infectious,” they said.

In addressing guests, College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 remarked that, from the standpoint of infrastructure improvements alone, “this is an exciting time to be at PC.” He referenced construction at the Ruane Center for the Humanities, Schneider Arena, and Hendricken Field, where a track is in its early stages, and the plans to landscape Huxley Avenue and the area from the Slavin Center to the Ruane Center.

Pointing out that the feeling of home and family “makes PC, PC,” Father Shanley said progress at the College “all depends on philanthropy, on you. The PC Fund funds everything, from scholarships to buildings to everything in between.”

Phelan ’66, Barnes & Noble saluted

In addition to the philanthropic support, A Night in Black & White celebrated the College and those who serve it.

Phelan, who has served on the Board of Trustees for 16 years and is co-chairman of Colliers International, received the Black & White Award for distinguished service to PC and the community. A revered Boston business leader, he was recognized for his extensive professional network and passion to help others, including PC undergraduates and non-profits like the Boys and Girls Club of Boston and Crossroads for Kids.

“He’s ‘Mr. PC,’” said Father Shanley before presenting the award. “I don’t know anyone who has given more back … in heart, soul, and treasure.” He added, “Kevin Phelan has an impact on PC and Boston that’s impossible to quantify.”

Phelan, whose generosity to PC includes the Phelan Gates at the main (River Avenue) campus entrance donated by his wife, Anne, and he, was modest in accepting the award. He said his career has allowed him the flexibility to get involved in the Boston community. “Hopefully, I’ve helped a few people,” he said.

In his remarks, he offered anecdotes and one-liners about his undergraduate days at PC, thanked his family for their longstanding support and the joy they’ve brought him, and appealed for guests to support the College financially.

“I’m asking you to think about what the school has done for you,” he said. “That was your ticket to where you are today.”

Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, the initial Black & White Corporate Partner Award recipient, has managed the PC Bookstore since 1981. A member of the College’s Corporate Partner St. Dominic Society, the company contributes annually to the PC Fund, PC Athletics, through in-kind donations, and to the Barnes & Noble Scholarship Fund. The fund was established in memory of Thomas Rapoza ’82, a PC Bookstore student worker and Barnes & Noble regional manager.

The Corporate Partner Award was accepted by Glen Hoyle ’82, PC’s Barnes & Noble regional manager, who also worked in the bookstore as an undergraduate and was a close friend of Mr. Rapoza. Hoyle thanked the College for the honor bestowed on his employer and said PC and Barnes & Noble share a goal of excellence and core beliefs that keep each partner growing. 

In summing up the evening, the McNamaras said the evening radiated with values integral to the College, including loyalty, friendship, service, and “involvement in something greater than self.”

“When you have all the right ingredients — a wonderful honoree, a strong committee, the support of fantastic PC staff, and the mesmerizing voice of John O’Hurley — the night was bound to be magical,” they said.

— Charles C. Joyce


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