Founders Day 2020: Union turns 225

Publication Date

Union will celebrate its 225th birthday during Founders Day Thursday, Feb. 20, at 1 p.m. in Memorial Chapel.

The event commemorates the anniversary of the College’s charter.

Kelly Williams ’86 will deliver the keynote address. Her talk comes during a yearlong celebration of co-education at Union. In the fall of 1970, the College admitted women for the first time.

Williams has enjoyed a 30-year career as an entrepreneur in private market investing, most notably as a founder of the Customized Fund Investment Group in 1999, which grew to over $30 billion before she led its sale in 2014.

Kelly Williams

She is well known for her commitment to diversity on Wall Street and for establishing a market-leading diverse manager investment practice. A Union trustee since 2008, she chaired the search for President David R. Harris. As CEO of the Williams Legacy Foundation, Kelly and her husband, Andrew Forsyth, have supported the Williams Center for Campus Community Safety, the Integrated Science and Engineering Complex, the Forum for Constructive Engagement and Terms Abroad.

A champion of the arts, she has loaned the College a number of pieces from her personal collection and helped establish a fund for acquisitions. Her foundation also gifted the Steinway piano in Memorial Chapel.

Among numerous industry accolades, she was named one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance by American Banker magazine. She received Union’s Alumni Gold Medal in 2016. A proud native of Newburgh, N.Y., she is the first in her family to attend college. She holds a Union degree in political science and mathematics, and a law degree from New York University.

Also at Founders Day, the College will present the Gideon Hawley Teacher Recognition Award. Named for the 1809 graduate of Union who was New York State’s first superintendent of public education, the award is given to secondary school teachers who have had a continuing influence on the academic life of Union students.

In addition, the ceremony will include the presentation of the Stillman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. The prize was created by David I. Stillman ’72, Abbott Stillman ’69 and Allan Stillman in honor of Abraham Stillman, father and grandfather. It is given annually to a faculty member to encourage outstanding teaching.

Founded in 1795, Union was the first college chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York.