I stepped to the podium on February 18, in front of a row of television cameras, to make a very exciting announcement: Michelle Borisenok, a Saint Rose graduate from the Class of 1980, and her husband, Walt, had made a $1.2 million gift to Saint Rose. The gift will fund the renovation and expansion of what will be named the Michelle Cuozzo Borisenok ’80 House, home to the new Women’s Leadership Institute and a cohort of BOLD Women’s Leadership Network Scholars.
There is no better time for Saint Rose, which began in 1920 to provide women equal access to higher education, to step forward as an advocate for women students, employees, and members of our community, and to empower the men among them as allies. We know in the era of #MeToo and lingering pay gaps, there is still work to be done in order to give women truly equal footing in both work and life.
Michelle’s passion for Saint Rose and desire to give back inspires me, and it certainly inspires the first seven students selected as BOLD Women’s Leadership Network Scholars, who joined me at the news conference last month. The BOLD Scholars, part of an exclusive national program we announced last April, were also introduced to the media during our news conference. What a powerful moment it was for me, as a college president who has devoted much of her work and scholarship to the topic of women’s leadership, to see those students speak publicly about how they want to one day follow the example Michelle has set as an alum of Saint Rose.
The Women’s Leadership Institute and initiatives such as BOLD will help instill confidence in women to advocate for themselves and lift up those around them. The gift by Michelle and Walt also sends another important message to our students. They are now responsible for continuing the life-changing experience they had at Saint Rose by paying it forward. I know our BOLD Scholars are already imagining how they will support Saint Rose one day. I invite our Saint Rose community to talk to us about opportunities to do the same.
There is great pride in our history at Saint Rose, and, together, we are continuing the momentum into the College’s next 100 years.