As per tradition, the annual AUBG Donor Recognition Dinner brought together the members of its administration, current students, alumni, and donors to express gratitude to the patrons of the university. Gathered in Grand Hotel Millennium Sofia, for the first time since the pandemic, the guests celebrated all the people who have supported AUBG over the years and thus, have ensured the institution’s success.
After watching the recap video of the past year, Ethan Perelstein, a third-year student at AUBG and a host of the event, kicked off the night and invited AUBG President David Evans to the stage.
In his welcoming speech, President Evans highlighted the major accomplishments of the past year’s fundraising initiatives – from continuing support for students, who have experienced hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and extending a hand to students, who have been affected by unprecedented circumstances of the ongoing war in Ukraine, to successfully completing the McGoldrick Lesson challenge and the matching challenge grant from America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF).
The Dimi & Yvonne Panitza Visionary Award
At the first Donor Recognition Ceremony in 2018, AUBG established a special Visionary category – an award that goes to a person whose contributions have helped set the university’s course for the future. The first people to receive this award were Dimi and Yvonne Panitza – one of the founders of AUBG and his wife, respectively. Within twenty years, the couple helped build the institution into what it is today by creating the library that would later be named after them and directly supporting more than 250 students in need.
This year, the most distinguished prize of the night – the Dimi & Yvonne Panitza Visionary Award – was given posthumously to Michael E. McGoldrick, AUBG’s former Economics professor, a founder of the McGoldrick fund for educational enhancement and community relations, and one of the most prominent supporters of the university. The award was presented by Anastasiia Mozghova, a fourth-year student and a recipient of the McGoldrick fund, and Darin Drossev (’99), an alumnus and one of the students of Professor McGoldrick.
“Professor McGoldrick is among the great pioneers, the creators of the AUBG spirit and he left us a great legacy,” said Darin Drossev (’99). “A legacy in the name of a great idea, which, I won’t hesitate to say, I always associate with the great Idea in the minds of the Founding Fathers of the USA. Thanks to the support of Michael McGoldrick, to your support, AUBG became more than an institution. We are now a great community, opinion leaders, carriers of the western values—these are the pillars of a force that would prevail in the struggle for the creation and the protection of the Free World.”
“Today, I would like to share my appreciation for having received the McGoldrick fund, which allowed me to visit Paris last April and enjoy not only the documentary film festival but also interact with the international community,” said Anastasiia Mozghova. “Yet the funding goes beyond the physical money. And here is why: during the opening night of the festival, I was given an opportunity to give a speech. As a Ukrainian, I was telling the guests of the festival about the first days and weeks of the Russian full-scale military aggression against Ukraine.”
The Lasting Legacy Award
The award in the “Lasting Legacy” category went to Melon, part of global digital transformation consultancy Kin + Carta, for the company’s financial support in a form of the Melon Alumni Endowed Scholarship for the first-year students coming from Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Serbia, or Kosovo. “Thank you on behalf of my colleagues from Melon – Vasil Dimov, Antoni Ivanov, Krum Hadjigeorgiev, Angel Nikolov, Nikolay Nikolov,” said Petar Švarc (’02), an AUBG alumnus and the SEE of Melon. “We all unanimously agreed that it is both an honor but also a duty for us as alumni to support AUBG. Melon’s gift to AUBG donation can match, I believe, any other gift in the amount of love, appreciation, and kindness that is invested in this are values that we have learned at AUBG.”
The Alumni Award
The award in the “Alumni” category went to Radoslav Georgiev (’09), a co-founder and CTO of Quantive, for his outstanding financial contribution to the university. While introducing the award, AUBG’s Vice President for Advancement Anjela Deyanska highlighted that in 2022, Radoslav became a first-time donor by joining the ABF matching campaign with a 3:1 match. “I would like to send my gratitude to your team and Svetlozar Georgiev [(EMBA ‘05)] who reached out and gave me a good edge to be a part of this endeavor. Thank you!”
The Board of Trustees Award
The award in the “Board of Trustees” category went to Michael Marvin, a managing director of MDM Advisors and Chair of the AUBG Board of Trustees. Despite the fact that Michael Marvin could not be present at the Donor Recognition Dinner, he sent a video of gratitude for the award. “I like to be involved in organizations that are truly making a difference, and AUBG is one of those organizations,” said Marvin in his video. “It has developed a very distinctive liberal arts education program that produces amazing alumni. And I like to think that in the five years that I’ve served on a Board [of Trustees], I’ve helped contribute to that progress. Thank you for honoring me and allowing me to serve.”
The Corporations Award
The award in the “Corporations” category went to KBC Bank Bulgaria (formally Raiffeisen bank) for their financial contribution in a form of scholarships for the first-year students at AUBG. “I am very honored to receive the prize in the name of KBC Bank,” said Peter Roebben, the CEO of UBB & KBC Bank Bulgaria. “The scholarship exists for more than ten years, I believe, and was initiated by what was Raiffeisen Bulgaria until a year ago. I am happy to say that we will continue this commitment forward. Actually, the biggest award is you and all your colleagues who have been able to pursue their studies. The truth is, you created the opportunity for the scholarship and hopefully, you will seize it.”
The Foundations Award
Moving forward, the award in the “Foundations” category went to Rays of Hope for Bulgaria. Although a representative of the foundation could not be present at the event, Kayla Whittaker, a president of Rays of Hope for Bulgaria and a former AUBG exchange student, sent a video sharing her gratitude for the award. “We give because we understand that providing the opportunity for skills and knowledge that may otherwise be out of reach for some is something that the youth of tomorrow can now rest assured is always theirs to hold,” said Whittaker in the video. “Thank you to AUBG, our partners at the ELI program, our donors, and many students who are the reasons we have hope for the future.”
The Friends of AUBG Award
The award in the “Friends of AUBG” category went to Julia Watkins, a former AUBG President, a true educator, and a strong visionary. Since Watkins could not be present at the event, she sent a video of gratitude for the award. “I want to thank all of you who work tirelessly and passionately to continue the 30-year success of AUBG,” said Watkins in her video. “Thank you for recognition of me and my contribution as a friend of AUBG. To be able to further support student initiatives of civic engagement is both an honor and a privilege. I thank you so for honoring me with this recognition and wish AUBG continued success in achieving its noble purpose and goals.”
The Faculty Award
The award in the newly established “Faculty” category went to the AUBG professors as a recognition of their indispensable contribution to the development of the university over the years. “On behalf of the faculty, thank you for recognizing our contributions to this institution and to the students at the heart of its mission,” said AUBG Provost J.D. Mininger. “And to my faculty colleagues: thank you for caring, and for expressing that care in so many crucial ways.”
The Staff Award
The award in the “Staff” category went to AUBG President David Evans for his continued support and invaluable service to the university. “My financial support to AUBG is very likely the best part of my life,” said President Evans. “It is a real pleasure and honor to be able to do things in a small way that make things better for our students. As I said many times, I deeply and profoundly believe that the only point of the institution is to create the best opportunities for the students, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”
While the Donor Recognition Dinner together with all its awards serves as a great reminder of the importance of giving back to the community, AUBG deeply appreciates the contributions of each and every individual, company, corporation, and foundation that have supported the university throughout its journey. Thanks to the kind generosity and magnanimous gestures of AUBG’s patrons, the university is able to educate, nurture, and support the future leaders of the world.