Donor Profile: Amy (Searles) and Bill Curley ’83

Donor Profile: Amy (Searles) and Bill Curley ’83

Amy (Searles) and Bill Curley ’83.

For Amy (Searles) and Bill Curley ’83, Fairfield University has been at the center of a life of making connections, growing, and giving back.

I was looking at all the Orientation pictures from the inaugural class, she said, and everybody’s got big smiles. These kids should be commended for taking this first step toward reaching their full potential.

— Amy (Searles) Curley ’83

“It’s easy to look back and say Fairfield changed our lives. And we know nobody gets anywhere by themselves; everybody needs a hand and we’ve been able to look back and realize that,” Bill Curley said.

Bill is now retired after spending 35 years in investment banking, and Amy volunteers to help run an organic farm that employs young adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. “It’s my perfect fit,” said Amy, “because it combines farming and flowers with helping young people develop their potential.”

The Curleys have three adult children and now live in Chestnut Hill, Mass. After raising their children in Wilton, Conn., they returned to the Boston area five years ago, to help care for family.

Bill and Amy met as classmates at Fairfield and remain connected to friends and mentors. As undergraduates, they became close with Rev. Thomas Regan, S.J., who taught philosophy. He later married them, baptized their children, and was a celebrant at their parents’ funerals. Another mentor was Rev. Laurence O’Neil, S.J., director of Career Counseling when Bill, after working in Ohio for a few years after graduation, came back to campus for advice on getting a job on Wall Street. Fr. O’Neil connected him with several people, including Larry Rafferty ’64, who became Bill’s business partner and lifelong friend.

Bill paid that support forward. A year after they met, he and Larry started their own investment banking firm, hiring a number of Stags over the years. Later in his career, he volunteered regularly to mentor Fairfield juniors and seniors, and helped them prepare for interviews for internships and jobs on Wall Street. In 2020, he was invited to join the Dolan School of Business Advisory Board, where he continues to serve.

Longtime annual supporters of Fairfield, the Curleys have always focused on creating opportunities for underserved students. “Our big thing for the yearly giving, if you will, is giving money to institutions where they can dedicate those funds to kids that are first-generation Amy (Searles) and Bill Curley '83 or are in need. That’s been our mantra,” Bill said.

Which is why, as the Fairfield Bellarmine associate’s degree program took shape, Bill and Amy were all-in. Bill remembers talking with University President Mark R. Nemec, PhD, five or six years ago, over lunch. The conversation quickly turned to how to get underrepresented kids into the higher education system. “We literally spent an hour and a half talking about that. We both had a passion for it.”

Then, a year ago, when President Nemec gave a presentation to the Dolan Advisory Board about the plans for Fairfield Bellarmine, Bill felt that shared passion again. “Right during the call,” he said, “I actually texted [Special Assistant to the President] George Diffley, and I said, I’m listening to Mark on the Zoom call, and we want to be involved.”

For Amy, their gift to Fairfleld Bellarmine offers a chance to make a lasting difference in the lives of students and their families. “I was looking at all the Orientation pictures from the inaugural class,” she said, “and everybody’s got big smiles. These kids should be commended for taking this first step toward reaching their full potential. I think this is going to be multi-generational; it’s not just them — it’s their future kids, and nieces and nephews. There’s a domino effect here that’s intangible.”

Bill added, “If you look back to high school and college, and to your career, you’ll see the people who helped you out along the way. And I think it’s important to point that out: that there’s a time to look back and be grateful, and to help out.”

Other Articles in the Winter 2023 Issue

Letter from the President

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The Company Scholars

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Discovery & Innovation

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Arts & Minds

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