By Emily Rudder, Jr. Digital Strategist
Thousands of miles from their Belgian home, KU Leuven held an elegant fundraiser at the Harvard Club of New York City on June 14th. Founded in 1425, KU Leuven is the oldest university in Belgium. The event, organized by Faircom New York, celebrated a nearly 100-year-old friendship between Leuven, Belgium and the United States. The evening honored the University’s storied past and looked forward to the restorations and enhancements of the University Library to come, thanks to the generosity of the event’s attendees.
KU Leuven’s ties to the United States were first drawn following an event that nearly destroyed the University. Amidst the height of World War I, German soldiers set fire to the University Library, destroying over 300,000 books and rare manuscripts. The destruction sparked international outcry, and generated tremendous support led by the United States. With the support of President Woodrow Wilson, American institutions, primarily universities, led fundraising efforts to restore the library to its former glory. Whitney Warren, the architect who designed Grand Central Station, designed the new building and commemorated American generosity within the architecture. The names of institutions that donated to KU Leuven are engraved in the columns of the library.
A university with such a unique history calls for a one-of-a-kind fundraiser. The evening opened with remarks by Rector Rik Torfs and Margaret Hoover, the great-granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover. She spoke on the important relationship between the US and Belgium that President Hoover was instrumental in establishing. A panel discussion followed on the topic of American and European economics between Herman Van Rompuy, the former Prime Minister of Belgium and first President of the European Council, and Jeffrey Sachs, an economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. The conversation was moderated by Greet de Keyser, a DC-based journalist.
The evening boasted a tremendous menu prepared by award-winning Belgian Chef, Bart Vandaele. Guests were served expertly prepared plates of smoked eel and braised beef short ribs. The dinner was inspired by the Magirus Koocboeck, the first cookbook published in Dutch dating back to 1612.
The event was successful in raising funds for the Library Project, an initiative dedicated to restoring and enhancing the University Library for current users and generations to come.
For more information on this event or to request information on planning your own fundraiser, please email Segolene Xavier at email@example.com.