BRATTLEBORO -- Actress and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg received the first ever Landmark College LD Luminary Award which was presented at a fundraising event in New York City last week.

Goldberg, who has talked about her struggles with dyslexia, was on hand at the ceremony, which was held April 29 at the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan.

The live auction and gala was a fundraising event for the school's new $10 million Science, Technology & Innovation Center, and the college was able to bring in about $1.5 million for the project.

Landmark College President Peter Eden said the LD Luminary Award will be given out every year to a public figure who talks about learning disabilities and who helps to demystify the challenges that people with learning disabilities face.

"A Landmark College LD Luminary is someone who can educate society regarding the inadequate and archaic practices in higher education when it comes to bright individuals who learn differently, for example due to dyslexia or ADHD or ASD," Eden said. "Whoopi Goldberg is an excellent example of a person who, despite the challenges she faced in school, found a way to learn, found strategies to help her read, and through determination and resolve, has risen to great heights."

Goldberg, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1991 for her role in "Ghost," praised Landmark College for "talking to kids like they're smart," adding, "I love that. Anytime I find people who get it, I'm grateful."

During her acceptance speech in New York Goldberg said she struggled to convince her teachers that she had trouble reading but was not having a hard time comprehending the ideas and concepts in the books.

"They thought I was lazy so they put me in the slow class," she told the crowd. "But my mom was a Head Start teacher, and she told me, 'You're not slow, you're just different.' You spend so much time convincing people, then you just give up."

The following day she talked about Landmark College while co-hosting ABC-TV's "The View."

"These guys have put this college together, and it's so magnificent when you see these kids saying, 'I came in here with my head down, and now my head is up,'" Goldberg said. "I was happy to get this award. I just wish (Landmark College) had been around. I periodically wonder what it would have been like to go to college."

"The Landmark College LD Luminary Award recognizes people in the public eye who are helping to demystify learning disabilities," Eden said. "Whoopi now influences countless others with LD, as they search for the right educational model, and the confidence needed to turn a difference into a strength."

Landmark College announced earlier this year that it was launching a public campaign to help raise money for a science, technology, engineering and math center, which will be built in the middle of the Putney campus.

The 28,500-square-foot educational center will be the first new building on campus in almost 30 years and the school hopes to open the new building in August 2015.

The new STEM center is being built after the college received its largest single gift in the school's history: A $2 million donation toward the center from the Tambour Foundation.

Landmark Alumna Nicole Goodnor MacFarlane, who attended the Putney College from 1996 to 1998, helped secure the foundation grant.

The new center will be named for MacFarlane, who was also at the event in New York where she was given the Landmark College accolade by Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Lewis.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.