5th Scholarship Celebration Dinner Honors Scholarship Benefactors
The benefactors who have provided annual and endowed scholarships to Williamson students were honored during the 5th Annual Scholarship Celebration Dinner on March 30.
The evening included donors and the students they are supporting eating dinner together and getting acquainted in the Rowan Hall dining room followed by remarks from several speakers.
In his welcoming remarks, President Michael Rounds said, “Thank you for taking the time to join us tonight. We have grown to 40 scholarship donors who support named scholarships for 107 of our students. Our named scholarship program provides over $1.3 million of support to our expenses each year. This year, we have added nine new scholarship donors – The Armstrong Foundation, Justamere Foundation, Azura Vascular Care, Fresenious Medical Care, Builders League of South Jersey, CAES, Nick DeBenedictis, Upper Makefield Business Association, and PJ Dick.
“Tonight we celebrate the philanthropy of each of you and the accomplishments of our students you are sponsoring. Williamson relies on philanthropy to support the incredible gift of a tuition-free education for every student. None of what we do would be possible without the generosity of the people in this room and many others. Thank you!”
Rounds mentioned several of the recent accomplishments at Williamson, including the opening of the William and Judith Strine Dormitory, which allowed an increase in enrollment of 23, making possible the freshman class of 2W5 with 124 members, a 20 percent increase, the opening of the Joseph and Marion Wesley Student Center, the Thomas and Agnes Chapel Mezzanine which seats 50, and the start of the new Construction Technology-Electrical Program.”
In her opening remarks, Dr. Michelle Williams, vice president of academic affairs and CAO, said “We are grateful we are able to offer this tremendous learning opportunity to students year after year. We are also grateful for the support and generosity of donors like the ones here in this room this evening. Because of your generosity, we are able to continue to fulfill our mission and young men are able to be active participants in the educational program that is of great benefit to them, their families, their community, and our society at large.”
Justin Williams 2W4, a Howley Foundation Scholar and an Air Products Scholar, in his student remarks, said “I am fully confident I made the best decision to come to Williamson. I applied to eight colleges, got accepted into all of them with a scholarship, and considered going to become a lawyer. Learning machine tool technology has been a blessing. You learn more than just a trade, the best part is we are all building character. Following the core values will shape me into the man I will become one day. My dream after graduation is to become a good husband and father. Attending Williamson has positively affected my life in every aspect. I learned so much inside and outside of the classroom and shop. None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the scholarship I received at Williamson.”
In his trustee remarks, Michael Piotrowicz explained how Williamson makes him think of a three-legged stool, with its three legs making it strong.
“The first leg are the donors. Without philanthropy, this institution does not exist. We have a very challenging business model. It’s not just a tuition-free and room and board institution. It has to be high quality. Employers would not be coming to this campus if they didn’t want the Williamson product. We are putting a Williamson product into their organization. But, they make it a better place. Without the donors giving us the financial ability to do our good work this organization doesn’t exist. It’s all about scholarships providing for each of these students. Thank you donors for caring about these students. Without you, we can’t be here.
“The second leg are the students. Don’t take second place, go for first place. You have the skill set, the God given ability, you can be really valuable members of society. You have a work ethic, you know how to go after something, you know how to be a good person and an honest person.
“The third leg are the administration, faculty, and staff, those who have made this their mission in life. The people who come here don’t do it for the money, they do it for the love of the mission and the love of the students.”
In Rounds introduction of Charles Fisher Jr., the donor speaker, he said Fisher was inspired to begin his support of Williamson when his father, Charles Fisher Sr. 4W1 passed away in 2019. He told the story of meeting Charles Sr. and his wife Alice in 2015 when he and his wife Mary Nell visited their home in North Carolina.
“I noticed they had three wood cutouts on their fireplace mantle. Charles said, ‘They are the church we were married in, the church we belong to now, and Williamson, which gave me my wife and everything I needed to have a successful life.’ ”
In his remarks, Charles Fisher Jr., explained that he began supporting Williamson in 2019 after his father passed away and he realized how well his father did in life because of his Williamson education and how that also benefited him.
His father left Williamson $1 million in a bequest, which in part established the Charles J. Fisher Sr. 4W1 Legacy Scholarship which funds a Williamson student in perpetuity. He once said, “I would not have what I have today if it were not for Williamson.”
Charles Jr. said “Williamson is where my father got his foundation for his life, including character, education, skills, everything he could use for achievement for the balance of his life.
“My father’s father passed away when my father was young and he was raised partly by his grandmother. He didn’t have enough money to attend college and someone recommended he attend Williamson. He came to Williamson and studied masonry. He also met my mother here.”
After graduating he worked as a mason until World War II began and he enlisted in the Navy. “He entered an officer development program and did well because of his Williamson education and the leadership skills he had learned here.”
The Navy sent him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a full scholarship where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. After graduating, he married and served six years in the Navy on active duty and 16 years in the Naval Reserves, retiring as a lieutenant commander.
After his service, he earned the status of professional engineer and worked his way up to president and CEO of Reliance Universal Inc. He also served on several corporate boards and industry associations.
“My parents were married 78 years and had a loving relationship and a comfortable home. My brother and I went to good public schools and received a college education which enabled us to have good careers and loving families of our own.”
Addressing the students, he said “There are always going to be opportunities and it’s up to you to use what you learned here to build your own family and to move forward in your own career.”
He closed saying the school needs support and students should pay it forward by donating to the school, guiding a young man to Williamson, or helping anyway you can.
Charles Jr. earned a bachelor’s degree in business and economics at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. He then began a life-long career in sales and marketing, selling corrosion protection coatings for industrial facilities. He retired as vice president of sales and marketing for FujiFilm in North Carolina.
The event included a meal blessing by Sean Howat, assistant chaplain, and closed with him giving the benediction.