BCF Pioneer Helped Shape the College
The Baruch College community was saddened by the passing of AARON SHAPIRO (’49, LHD [Hon.] ’89) last October. He was 82 years old. Shapiro was the founder of Shapiro Lobel, LLP, an advisory services and personal financial management firm that achieved international recognition for its representation of clients in the entertainment industry.
An extremely engaged, loyal, and generous alumnus, Shapiro was a founding member of The Baruch College Fund (BCF), the fundraising arm of the College, and a former president of the BCF Board. He was a BCF Trustee from 1976 to 2002, when he became Trustee Emeritus. Over the years, the College bestowed upon him an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, an Alumni Achievement Award, and the President’s Medal, among other tributes.
An accountant and an attorney (he earned an LLD from Brooklyn Law School in 1955), Shapiro was best known for combining his professional life and his passion for Broadway and the theater. Interviewed by Baruch College Alumni Magazine in 2008, Shapiro recounted seeing his first play on a school field trip at age 12. It was love at first sight. Using the language of show business, he recalled his “big break” as the moment “I realized I could apply my business expertise to my love of theatre.” As a Tony Awards voter, member of the boards of the American Theatre Wing and the Fezzik Foundation, treasurer of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and a founding member of the Bob Fosse Theatre Scholarship Fund, Shapiro fully realized this ambitious balance.
His love for theatre also inspired the Joel Segall Great Works Reading Series, which he and his business partner, Michael Lobel, created and endowed through the Nat R. & Martha Knaster Charitable Trust, where they were both board members. (The program was named in honor of former Baruch College President Joel Segall, under whom Shapiro served as BCF president.)
The Great Works Reading Series introduces Baruch students to classical and contemporary theatrical masterworks and reaches over 3,200 students each year. “I want students to take advantage of all that Baruch offers, which includes theatre on campus as well as on Broadway,” Shapiro explained. In recent years, he joined the Dean’s Council of Baruch’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences.
Praise for Shapiro continues to pour forth: He was a “consummate gentle man” and a “people connector.” Over the years, Shapiro inspired many alumni to re-engage with Baruch, including his good friend and fellow BCF Trustee Stuart Shikiar (’68), who offered this remembrance:
“Aaron Shapiro will be remembered fondly for so many reasons: He was kind, thoughtful, and compassionate. He epitomized the Baruch College success story and accomplished a great deal professionally with his guiding principles of integrity and loyalty. Eager to ‘give back,’ he mentored many, his advice always sage. He respected all and had the uncanny ability to make everyone feel very special. The glass was always half full for Aaron, who was a perennial optimist. He is missed but will always have a coveted place in the heart of those fortunate to have been in his life.”
Shapiro’s vision and generosity have made Baruch College a better place for future generations of students.