The Minnesota State University, Mankato Foundation hosted its 22nd annual Purple and Gold Gala Friday, Sept. 30, in the Centennial Student Union. The Gala, which was a formal event, was held to honor and celebrate the generous gifts of university donors.
The evening began with hors d’oeuvres in the Hearth Lounge at 5:30 p.m. MNSU administrators, donors, and students alike gathered in elegant attire, visibly excited at seeing old friends and acquaintances. After some idle chatter and a drink or two, guests were invited to the CSU Ballroom for the dinner and presentation of awards.
When guests found their seats, Dr. Paul Hustoles introduced several acts of MNSU Theatre’s current musical The Full Monty. Hustoles encouraged all attendees to buy tickets.
When the last number finished, emcee James “Gully” Gullickson announced the beginning of dinner. A salad and an entrée option of beef tenderloin, shrimp with crab stuffing, or an eggplant roulade were served by University Dining Services.
After an excellent meal, MNSU President Dr. Richard Davenport gave a welcoming speech, highlighting various successes of the school.
One of the major highlights Davenport mentioned was the diversity offered at the school. He boasted of the 1,200 international students from 94 different countries, all of who contribute to the global mindset MNSU wants to share and teach students. This makes 24 percent of the MNSU student population diverse.
Davenport also mentioned a new high in new student applications and 12,500 returning students. These numbers lead the university to be the second largest public university in Minnesota.
Extra curricular activities were then the topic of discussion. Davenport mentioned the theater program being in the top five in the country, as well as the dance program reigning as number one in the country.
Davenport also talked about the $250 million invested into the academic and sports buildings around MNSU, among which includes the new Clinical Sciences building and the new Carkoski Commons.
Ellen Steck of the Minnesota State University, Mankato Foundation then spoke.
After Steck gave her speech, awards were then presented. Philanthropist of the Year went to Al and Bobbie Hubbard, Corporate Philanthropic Partner of the Year was awarded to The Orthopedic & Fracture Clinic, PA, and Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Larry Schnoor. Pepsi Cola of Mankato, Inc. also surpassed the $5 million mark in the Lifetime of Giving.
After all awards were presented, guests were invited to have a variety of desserts in the Hearth Lounge.
In a rare moment aside from the chatter of the crowd, Davenport commented on the Gala.
“Look at the vibrancy and excitement of everyone here,” said Davenport. “For our donors, this Gala is the chance to come back and see the students and their successes. It reinforces that giving back to the university is richly beneficial as they see how wholesome our students are.”
Student Senate Speaker Frederick de Ruiter also offered his opinion on the event. “The Gala was a great opportunity to see and meet some of the influential builders of MNSU,” he said.
The members of the purple and gold society (donors to the school) are the leaders who help connect the big ideas of our faculty and students to become real-world experiences according to the event program. It also went on to say that these philanthropic investments have empowered students through scholarships, facilities, and program support, making dreams possible.