La Salle University celebrated its 160-year history at a venue that knows a thing or two about history.
More than 300 supporters of La Salle—from University Trustees and alumni, to current administrators and professionals and executives from across the region—gathered at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center for the 30th annual Charter Dinner, held March 11.
Each year, Charter Dinner celebrates La Salle’s founding in 1863 and pays tribute to the generations of Christian Brothers, laypeople, and clergy whose dedication have made La Salle the prominent institution it is today.
This year’s event honored alumnus and former University Trustee E.F. (Bud) Hansen, III, ’90, MBA ’96, with the Lasallian Leadership Award—the University’s highest honor, in acknowledgement of an individual’s outstanding leadership in their communities—whether corporate, civic, governmental, or religious.
Hansen became the first legacy recipient of the Lasallian Leadership Award, which recognizes exceptional leadership across all sectors and in alignment with La Salle’s mission. His father, former University Trustee Elmer F. Hansen, Jr., ’58, previously received the honor.
La Salle’s annual Charter Dinner provides financial support of the University’s students. Over the past three decades, Charter Dinner has raised more than $5.5 million, with proceeds enhancing the University’s Scholarship Fund and benefiting La Salle students.
Hansen is President of Hansen Properties, Inc., the hospitality company founded in 1967 by his father. The company employs more than 400 staffers, owns Blue Bell Country Club and Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center, and is considered one of the premier family-owned businesses in the Philadelphia region.
“I cannot adequately express the pride I feel by being named the 30th Lasallian Leadership Award recipient, and the first legacy recipient in history,” said Hansen III. “La Salle University is the place that made me feel accepted and part of something bigger. … Not only was my father grateful for an excellent education, but for the lifelong friendships he made with classmates and faculty alike. His education catapulted him into an obsession with business. He was eager to pass that along to me. He was proud to consider us both ‘Brothers Boys.’ It was important for him to always give back to those that helped him as well as to pay it forward to those in need. Passing along these lessons were as meaningful to him as those he taught me in the workplace.”
Hansen’s support of La Salle extends beyond his 15 years of service on the University’s Board of Trustees, for which he served on four committees. The Hansen family is among the most charitable lifetime supporters of La Salle, with Hansen and his late father hosting the University’s annual President’s Cup golf outing and so many of its prior Charter Dinners.
Also honored at Charter Dinner was Philadelphia-based Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools, or BLOCS, which received the 2023 Lasallian Impact Award. Led by chief executive officer Dave Rowan, BLOCS has been providing access to high-quality, values-based Catholic education for more than four decades. The organization provides thousands of need-based scholarships annually to foster strong enrollment at the city’s Archdiocesan and Catholic schools.
In January, BLOCS pledged a quarter-million dollars to the La Salle Early Achievement Program (LEAP), a dual-enrollment program that is aimed at strengthening the college-going rate among high-achieving Philadelphia high school students while reducing out-of-pocket costs.
“We believe every school-aged child, regardless of race, religion, or financial circumstance, deserves a future filled with promise and hope. BLOCS has been doing this for more than 40 years,” said Rowan upon accepting the Lasallian Impact Award, which recognizes organizations that value education in the spirit of St. John Baptist de La Salle. “Let’s continue to do all we can to rebuild and reenergize our great city by selflessly assisting our future leaders and providing them with great educations like they will receive at La Salle University.”
Hansen Properties, Inc., served as the event’s presenting sponsor, with Independence Blue Cross; William R. Sasso, Esq.; Leo Niessen Jr. Charitable Fund; and Stradley Ronon providing platinum sponsorships.
—Christopher A. Vito