Alan Carrel spent the better part of four decades building relationships with all sorts of people on behalf of SUNY Buffalo Law School. In a crowded hotel banquet room, a lot of those people gathered to celebrate his retirement. The Oct. 15 gathering at the Hotel @ the Lafayette brought together colleagues, faculty and alumni to celebrate a career that has meant much to the Law School.
Carrel is best-known for his successful fund-raising, a key element in the Law School’s growth. As James Newton, vice dean for administration, noted, Carrel inherited a development office that raised $13,000 annually and, over his 36-year career, helped grow it into a department that raises $3 million a year. He also personally secured more than $20 million in contributions for the school.
Newton also ticked off a list of “firsts” for the honoree, but perhaps more important, he said, have been the connections he has made, and nurtured, with students, colleagues and alumni. “For 36 years, he has connected people to SUNY Buffalo Law School because they know that he cares deeply about them as individuals, and that he cares deeply about our school and our students.”
In his remarks, Dean Makau W. Mutua said, “Alan understood very early on that you could not build a great law school without great alumni, and he drummed that message into the head of every dean with whom he served. We could not be where we are today as a law school without Alan’s wise counsel, support and guidance.”
Dean Mutua announced the establishment of a scholarship fund in Carrel’s honor, and closed by leading the crowd in a toast, saying: “Alan, you have set a standard for this Law School that will be difficult to surpass. Your devotion to the Law School, your work for this Law School, your affection for the alumni and all that you have done for this Law School is unparalleled. May the candles you have lit burn brightly forever.”
Harvey Kaminski ’77, a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, said it was Carrel who developed his interest in donating to the Law School and encouraging others to do so. “He conveyed the importance of the Law School and reinforced my experience of the Law School, and his credibility with me was unsurpassed.” Noting that Carrel’s career spanned the tenures of four deans, Kaminski said, “He is the one constant in an ever-changing scenario. Alan has always been there to reassure me about all the good things going on in the Law School.”
Hon. Lenora Foote-Beavers ’97, chair of the SUNY Buffalo Law Alumni Association, spoke in personal terms about Carrel’s support for her during her student years, when she had a newborn child. “The personal challenges I faced were extraordinary and difficult,” she said. “Dean Carrel knew them all. He constantly encouraged me and supported me in several ways to help guide me through the many tough times in my life. … The Law School will not only miss his incredible fundraising skills, but will also lose an amazing man who cares.”
Lucille Dadd, a major gifts officer with the Law School’s Development Office, cited Carrel’s keys to happiness. First, she said, was his devotion to his family. Second was “being a good person and dong the right thing. … His integrity and loyalty are two of his best qualities. And third, she said, “The Law School and the people there make Alan happy. He has mentored numerous students by giving them advice and giving them confidence to do what was needed in their life. He has done the same with faculty and staff. “We will miss Alan very much around the Law School, not only for his accomplishments, but for his heart.”
When the honoree had his turn at the microphone, he said, “To most, this is a roomful of people celebrating a retirement. To me, it is a roomful of people almost every one of whom is a special friend who has played a meaningful role in my life. … Tonight is a major highlight in my life, and I thank all of you for enabling that to happen.”
Carrel went on to acknowledge his upbringing with “phenomenal” parents; his family, including three children and seven grandchildren; the students and alumni who, he said, “are among my dearest and most valued friends”; and his Law School colleagues, saying, “It is they who are responsible for much that has been credited to me.”
At the outset, he was persuaded to leave private practice for “a year or two break” at the Law School. But, he said, “I fell in love with my new job immediately, and I stayed for a few more than two years. I spent 36 years at a job I loved.”