In addition, other activities were carried out, such as a colloquium on the constitutional plebiscite, which was attended by alumni living in the United States. All the events were attended by Rector Ignacio Sánchez, who valued the contribution that the organization makes to the Catholic University.
2022 has been a year of reunions for Friends of Catholic University in Chile, Inc (Friends UC). After the pandemic, which forced the organization to hold its two annual board meetings online, the entity, whose purpose is to support the Catholic University in its initiatives and projects, returned to face-to-face meetings. And if last May it was held in Chile, this October it was the turn of New York City.
Thus, on the 20th and 21st of this month, Friends UC, chaired by lawyer and alumna Sava Thomas, carried out several activities that were crowned by the second board meeting of 2022.
First, a colloquium entitled «Chile post referendum: towards common ground» was held, with four distinguished speakers: sociologists Eugenio Tironi, member of the advisory board of the UC School of Government, and Eduardo Valenzuela, former dean of the UC School of Social Sciences; historian and professor at the Catholic University, Ana María Stuven, and former Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, René Cortázar. From Chile and connected by Zoom, the four experts shared their reading of the results of the constitutional plebiscite and outlined the scenarios that open up for the country. This discussion, which was moderated by the rector of the Catholic University, Ignacio Sanchez, also counted with the participation of a group of alumni living in the United States, who connected from locations such as Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Boston and Denver.
To conclude the first day, the members of the Friends UC board of directors – made up of Chilean and American citizens who share a deep bond with the university – saw the play «Eva Luna», presented at the Repertorio Español Theater. The play is an adaptation of the famous novel by Isabel Allende, and stars Chilean actress Andrea Velasco. The evening concluded with a lively dinner at a restaurant in the Nomad neighborhood.
A great contribution to the search for resources
Friends UC is a non-profit organization that collaborates with the Catholic University through its own programs, such as the Cristobal Conde Scholarship, which covers the tuition gap for vulnerable students who do not receive free tuition, and the Leading the Way & Scholarships program, which offers intensive English language training to students from vulnerable sectors of society, with special attention to the American cultural context, and which concludes with a study trip to Drexel University in Philadelphia. It also supports Catholic University in its fundraising efforts in the United States for central and academic unit initiatives.
«Friends is important to the university for many reasons, but mainly because as a foundation in the United States, it can receive donations from individuals and organizations that will enjoy a tax benefit in this country,» said Sava Thomas, for whom heading this organization has been a great experience: «The presidency of the Friends UC board has given me a great opportunity to remain connected to the Catholic University, my alma mater, and to Chile and thus be able to help the university and this country that I love so much. In addition, it has allowed me to form a valuable board of Chileans and Americans, generous, extraordinarily competent, now great friends, ready to help the UC in its projects».
For his part, Rector Ignacio Sanchez said: «We have learned a lot from this joint work; Friends UC has been able to raise important resources for the university that have been channeled through the foundation based in the United States. We have been able to receive contributions from Chileans abroad, contributions from Americans and Chileans who have been very well impressed by what the university is doing at the Latin American level,» the authority said, and continued: «(This) is a great platform, on the one hand, to make our institution known; on the other hand, to learn how fundraising is done, philanthropy, search for resources in a very professional way, and thirdly to be able to find resources abroad to be able to complement the search for resources of donations that we are permanently doing in Chile, therefore I thank very sincerely the work of the directors, particularly that of Sava Thomas, its president throughout this long period; Roger Thomas and all the directors both American and Chilean who give life to this foundation.»
Supporting UC’s future
With the Statue of Liberty easily distinguishable from the large windows of the building, the Friends UC board meeting was held in the heart of Manhattan. On the occasion, Rector Sanchez spoke about the main projects of the university; subsequently, the prorector of Institutional Management and treasurer of the American entity, Patricio Donoso, presented the status of the two initiatives of the organization already mentioned, and others that have been supported by the philanthropic entity.
«Friends UC has been in these years a great engine for the Catholic University. Hundreds of students have benefited from its two programs, but it has also allowed us to receive resources in the United States for relevant initiatives such as the UC Endowment, Radio Beethoven and Elige Educar, to name just a few, from donors who trust in its transparency and management capacity. Therefore, it is a key ally for the future of our institution,» said Prorector Donoso.
Finally, as is traditional, a concert and dinner was held at the home of Sava and Roger Thomas, who is secretary of Friends UC. On the occasion, works for piano, cello and violin by Dvorak, Haydn, Beethoven and Wieniawski were performed by the Omega Ensemble, a group of young and talented musicians.
Friends UC will meet again in April 2023, this time in Chile, in a very special year, as it marks its 20 years of trajectory with the UC.