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Joining me at Women of Chapman's Membership Tea are Chapman University President Jim Doti and Women of Chapman President Kathy Hamilton

Joining me at Women of Chapman’s Membership Tea are Chapman University President Jim Doti and Women of Chapman President Kathy Hamilton

It was a red letter Chapman Day for me as I attended the kickoff luncheon for Chapman University’s AmCel – short for “American Celebration,” the university’s gala black-tie fundraiser that raises millions in student scholarships – at the Balboa Bay Club’s Bay Club Grill in Newport Beach. Hosted by Chapman supporter Catherine Emmi, guests were greeted by Chapman students dressed in attire from the Will Rogers Follies, one of the favorite performances at several past AmCels, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

You might think because AmCel is held on campus in Orange it might be a little dull, but, believe me, it is anything but! The first part of the evening everyone gathers in Memorial Hall, where 100+ singing and dancing students from the College of Performing Arts put on a show that knocks your socks off! The gala always honors some super Chapman supporters like the Argyros’s, Muscos, Sodaros, Mazzos, Allred, Emmis, and a Lifetime Achievement honoree is recognized for his or her contributions in the arts. Past honorees have included Tommy Tune, Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis, Mitzi Gaynor, and Richard Dreyfuss. To a person, every one of the recipients has voiced their astonishment at the caliber of the student performance. It makes you proud!!

Chairing this year’s affair on November 2 are longtime Chapman supporters Twyla and Chuck Martin. Twyla announced that Suki and Randall McCardle ’58 are this year’s Citizens of the Year honorees and that the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts honor is to be bestowed on the Bridges family – the late, revered actor Lloyd Bridges, Jr., Lloyd (Beau) Bridges, III and Jeffrey Bridges. One of my favorite films is The Fabulous Baker Boys with Beau and Jeff and Michelle Pfeiffer. And, of course, each of their film catalogs is filled with gem after gem, and even an Oscar for Jeff, affectionately called “The Dude.”

The evening segues to an elegant tented dinner palace right outside Memorial Hall, complete with sparkling chandeliers, elegant crystal and dinner service, superb wines and cuisine, and a dance band second to none. This year’s cuisine, according to Chuck, will be an Italian experience, with committee member Sally Crockett leading the effort. Chuck also spoke about a pre-event online auction filled with one-of-a-kind experiences that he and Twyla are lining up – one week on a 132-foot luxury yacht in the Caribbean for four couples, an exclusive Montana vacation for five couples on a 13,000-acre ranch, etc. Before the luncheon was over, several guests had offered other luxurious opportunities, with ideas flowing fast and furious!

Moving on to the Women of Chapman’s annual Membership Tea at the gorgeous Big Canyon home of Dr. Sherri Worth-Nourse was a treat. The invite always states, “Hats are a Must!” and the ladies oblige, with several members wearing their hats to the AmCel luncheon as well. Adrienne Brandes’ hat was a knock-out! Everyone’s beloved Pied Piper, university president Jim Doti, arrived in a snappy fedora for the festivities (he shared that his mother was a milliner). WOC President Kathy Hamilton and tea co-chairs Donna Di Bari, Kim Smith and Donna Bianchi greeted everyone, as 110 members and their prospective member guests gathered in Worth-Nourse’s beautifully landscaped back yard for champagne, tea and scrumptious tea fare catered by Ellie Snyder’s Sweet Heaven.

I love this group and as a 20-year member am proud to have served as its president and “Christmas at The Ritz” chair (our major fundraiser). Jim is always so supportive and gracious to our 240-member group. He thanked us for our support, particularly to the university’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, Musco Center for the Arts and the recently-opened Doti Residence Hall. Having climbed the world’s highest peaks and run major marathons, this dynamic university leader claimed another first – he appeared with a speaking part on a recent segment of the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful. You would have thought he’d climbed Mt. Everest! I don’t know of anyone who embraces life more fully than our beloved leader. All too soon, we departed with a darling votive-filled miniature tea cup and saucer, marking the end of my Chapman journey that day. The good news? Many more are waiting!