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‘Friends of Jane’ surprise Salve Regina president at Governor’s Ball with $25,000 gift

NEWPORT, R.I. – A Christmas gift from 1,000 miles away for Salve Regina University President Jane Gerety, RSM, was personally delivered Saturday evening in the form of $25,000 to launch a student scholarship fund in her honor.

The surprise gesture from the “Friends of Jane,” a group of family members, friends and co-workers from the Atlanta area where Gerety served as executive board officer for Saint Joseph’s Health System prior to assuming the Salve Regina presidency five years ago, was announced during the university’s 37th Governor’s Ball on Saturday evening, Dec. 7 from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., at Ochre Court.

“The very moment Sister Jane’s friends in Atlanta got word that Salve was establishing a scholarship in her name the phones lit up,” said David Fitzgerald, a board member at St. Joseph’s Hospital whose relationship with Sister Jane has spanned for 25 years. “The FOJ’s (Friends of Jane) raised over $25,000 in 24 hours.”

Fitzgerald and other members of the self-dubbed FOJ’s traveled north to surprise their friend not only with their attendance at the Ball, but with their gift in her honor.

“Sister Jane has legions of friends in Atlanta who miss her presence, her wise counsel, her intellect, her friendship, her perspective and her sense of humor,” Fitzgerald said. “Newport’s gain is definitely Atlanta’s loss. We’re very sad she’s gone but so happy that she loves her job, her university family – and Newport. This was just a very small way for us to recognize how much she means to all of us.”

Gerety is presiding over the university’s 37th Governor’s Ball, which has raised a record $370,000 this year to support student scholarships. Chaired by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Gilbane, Jr., the event is attended by local business leaders, alumni, parents and friends in support of student scholarships. Since its inception in 1977 with the assistance of then Gov. J. Joseph Garrahy, Salve Regina’s Governor’s Ball has raised more than $6 million for students.