An Electrifying Night

Image of a transformed Petco Park for USD's Founders Gala


The night sky was a collage of colors as fireworks went off above Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres. The celebration lit up the skyline and dazzled the more than 600 guests in attendance at the University of San Diego’s Founders Gala, “Field of Dreams.”

After a year postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the USD community came together on November 13 for the university’s signature fundraising event.

“In 2020, we were presented with a unique challenge and opportunity when we faced the global pandemic,” said USD President James T. Harris III, DEd. “Many of you helped us remain committed to delivering high-impact educational practices and to a values-based education by offering financial assistance to support our students through your generous philanthropy.”

The evening surpassed expectations with a record-breaking net $2.3 million raised to support student scholarships.

Andrew Firestone ’98 (BBA), the founder and principal of StonePark Capital, presided over the event, which included an appearance by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria ’00 (BA).

Featuring a live auction and raffle, the event also included a Fund-A-Torero paddle raise, which gave attendees the opportunity to donate directly to the Founders Endowed Scholarship Fund, which supports undergraduate and graduate students who have documented financial need.

An impactful moment came when USD trustees Mike Persall ’02 and Chair Emerita Darlene Marcos Shiley each donated $500,000 as part of the paddle raise.

The record-breaking evening was an inspiring event, showcasing USD’s commitment to ensuring access to learning for current and future Changemakers.

Perhaps President Harris summed it up best with his closing comments. “Let me end by proposing a toast,” he said. “To USD, a university where dreams come true. A place grounded in the belief that faith and reason can co-exist. To an engaged, contemporary Catholic university committed to the common good. And, to the belief that we have not even come close to reaching our full potential as a university.” — Allyson Meyer

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