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Laurie Brecher ’80 – Prosecuting as public service

Posted on May 1, 1995

Laurie Brecher '80

On Prize Day in the spring of 1980, Laurie Brecher '80 walked out with her hands full. Not only was she praised for her academic achievements in the Political Science Department, she also won the Joseph Dagget Prize for outstanding conduct and character and her public service contributions to the College community.

Fifteen years later, Brecher is still making contributions to her community. For the past eight years, she has been an assistant United States attorney, helping to put away some of New York's most brutal criminals. In one of her better-known cases, Brecher prosecuted a member of New York's Irish mob, known as the Westies. During one of the more disturbing days of the trial, Brecher listened as her lead witness described how he had committed certain murders and how other confederates in the Irish mob chopped up the bodies of the people they had murdered.

But Brecher hardly sees her work as a cops and robbers chase. To her, working as a prosecutor is a way of achieving her lifelong goal of participating in public service.

“Being a prosecutor is a rewarding form of public service,” Brecher says. “We are enforcing the laws that ensure
that our communities are safe. We're literally representing the people. Just because you're a prosecutor and working on the side of law enforcement doesn't mean you're not interested in justice or in protecting civil rights and civil liberties.”

Brecher says she was always interested in “participating in the issues that affect the environment I lived in.”

As a young girl, that meant playing the judge when a friend of hers broke a vase. (Brecher's brother was the prosecuting attorney.) In high school, that meant taking the bus once a week from her suburban home to an inner-city magnet school in Boston, where she was exposed to the world of civil rights. During her college years, that meant interning for New York State Senator Franz Lechter and serving as a volunteer campaign coordinator for U.S. Senator Paul Tsongas. Back on campus, she led the College's chapter of Amnesty International and worked with the admissions, tax, and orientation committees.

After graduating second in her class
from New York University's law school in 1983, she got her first taste of the courtroom by clerking for John 0. Newman, chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the highest federal court in New York. Although she spent three years in the private sector as an associate at two New York firms, Brecher says she knew she wanted to return to the courtroom as a prosecutor. “I wanted to be a real lawyer, I wanted to spend more time in court, and I definitely wanted public service,” she says.

The U.S. attorney's office has certainly satisfied all of those goals while giving her first-hand knowledge of the world of investigations and law enforcement. Working in the narcotics division, Brecher supervised a F.B.I.-New York
State Police investigation of a Colombian cocaine-trafficking ring that was coordinating its local operations from a horse ranch on Long Island. The two-year investigation included thousands of hours worth of wiretap recordings, and Brecher even picked up a bit of Spanish.

Of the eighteen people indicted, fourteen pleaded guilty. Brecher and a colleague prosecuted three of the defendants during a six-month trial; all were found guilty. The trial was afar cry from the two-day, $10 crack trial Brecher prosecuted when she first arrived at the U.S. attorney's office.

Just how did she catch the ring? “We had a cooperating individual, as well as tapes, visual surveillance and documentary evidence gathered by a team of investigators,” Brecher explains.

She also has prosecuted cases of securities fraud and insider trading. An investigation she and others conducted with the assistance of the Securities and Exchange Commission during 1992 and 1993 involved a managing director at Salomon Brothers who was prosecuted for making false statements in bids submitted for U.S. Treasury bond auctions.

“It's a real challenge to investigate a case and uncover credible evidence,” she says. “I love pulling all the pieces together and following the trails of evidence that develop as you corroborate witnesses during a long-term investigation.”

These days, ten months removed from giving birth to her first child, Brecher has shifted some of her responsibilities from the courtroom to management. As the recently-named deputy chief of the U.S. Attorney's General Crimes Unit, Brecher supervises the new crop of assistant U.S. attorneys.

“I'm still handling some of my own cases, but it is a nice change of pace.”

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Stephen Ciesinski ’70 – Educating about technology

Posted on May 1, 1995

Stephen Ciesinski '70

A few days before the presidential election in 1992, when a victory for Bill Clinton and Al Gore seemed imminent, several Democrats realized that almost every appointed government employee in Washington, D.C., was a
Republican and resumes would soon flood in from Democrats who wanted jobs in the new administration.

That's when they decided to call Resumix, Inc., the nation's leader in computer-generated resume evaluation software systems. In less than three months, Resumix's artificial
intelligence based product helped process more than 30,000 resumes, many of them more than twelve pages long.

“It's a task that would have been physically impossible to accomplish without our product,” says Stephen Ciesinski '70, Resumix's chief executive officer.

If you're heading out on a job search in the near future, chances are getting better and better that Ciesinski's company will have something to say about your curriculum vitae. Since joining Resumix two years ago, Ciesinski has guided the company to a 150 percent increase in revenue, more than doubling the country's size and customer base and attaining consistent profits. Today, even the White House's Office of Productivity and Management uses Resumix.

Located in Santa Clara, Calif., Resumix produces software that scans resumes,
catalogs essential information, and automatically matches top candidates' qualifications with the positions that need to be filled. The company has sixty percent of the market share and clients that include Walt Disney, Motorola, Ocean Spray Cranberries, and Northern Telecom.

The story at Resumix echoes Ciesinski's earlier success at another technological company. Thirteen years ago he arrived at Octel Communications at a time when few people had ever heard of “voice-mail” and even fewer thought the product could play a useful part in their lives. When Ciesinski left Octel in 1993, it was a $350 million corporation, and voice mail had become a mainstay of business.

“I enjoy being with companies that create a need for new technology,” says Ciesinski, who also helped Applied Materials become the leading producer of the equipment that makes computer chips during the 1970s and 1980s.

“Everyone used to think communication had to be simultaneous and two-way, so at Octel we had to show people that they could talk to one another the same way they write letters,” he says. “I can leave you a message, you can get back to me by leaving me a message a few hours later, and then I can do the same. We're communicating and doing business even though we might not be talking to each other simultaneously.”

Now Ciesinski is teaching the world how technology can speed the hiring process. Last year, Resumix licensed its software to a British business consortium, which decided to take advantage of its citizens' love of gambling and set up a state-run lottery. Ciesinski and Resumix became part of the group, named Camelot, that was in charge of creating the lottery.

“We had to form a 500-person company in three months,” Ciesinski recalls. “It was fun for us because in that kind of a pressurized environment, where every day without a lottery you're going to be losing money, we can really thrive. That's what we do best.”

Ciesinski credits Union with preparing him for a career in managing high-tech companies. A double major in electrical engineering and modern languages, Ciesinski has the scientific background to understand
cutting-edge technology and the language skills that helps him explain the technology in a layperson's language.

As a result, Ciesinski feels just as comfortable in the lab with Resumix's thirty-five researchers as he does during what he refers to as his “missionary sells”-his meetings with other businesses when he has to convince them that they will soon need his technology to keep up with the corporate world. And his French and German have come in handy when he has done business abroad. “People really warm up to you when you attempt to speak to them in their own language,” he says.

Ciesinski has hardly limited his know-how to the corporate world. A Schenectady native and an honorable mention Little All-American in football at Union, Ciesinski was taught by a hard-working father to value education. Adam Ciesinski '41, a lawyer in Schenectady, sent all seven of his children to college, and now those children are passing on that legacy. The Ciesinskis have established a Union scholarship in their father's name to help students from Schenectady with an interest in both science and the liberal arts.

Ciesinski gives more than just financial support to education. He serves on Union's Board of Trustees, is on the cabinet at the California State University at San Luis Obispo, and is both a board member and a volunteer for Junior Achievement-an educational foundation – in Santa Clara County. Once a week, he teaches a class of graduating seniors at Yerba Buena High School about the world of business and technology.

“The press usually lambastes corporate and business types,” Ciesinski says, “but people have to realize that without business and commerce there wouldn't be a lot of jobs around.”

What does Ciesinski do when he isn't introducing the world to the latest technology? “I've got a
two-and-a-half-year-old and a five-year-old,” he says. “They keep me pretty busy.”

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Peter Kissinger ’66 – Helping scientists do better science

Posted on May 1, 1995

Peter Kissinger '66

No one could ever accuse Peter Kissinger '66 of having a hard time making up his mind. Kissinger has been developing scientific machines for more than thirty years-all that's changed is the technology and the price tag.

As a precocious sixteen-year-old at New Dorp High School on Staten Island, Kissinger used $30, some borrowed equipment, and guidance from a father interested in electronics and a neighbor interested in organic chemistry to produce a simple polarograph for a science fair project.

Today, as a professor of chemistry at Purdue University and the founder and president of Bioanalytical Systems, Kissinger helps design some of the world's most advanced analytical chemistry instruments.

Founded in 1974, Bioanalytical Systems has 150 employees in Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Japan, and Europe.

“Being involved in a relatively small academic community, I had the opportunity to travel and develop a sense of the kinds of chemical measurement problems scientists were having,” Kissinger says, explaining why he formed Bioanalytical Systems. “Neuroscientists in particular needed better instruments.”

Kissinger knew what every good scientist knows-better instruments mean better science.

“What you find is that scientific progress and the development of new technology are linked,” Kissinger says. “Someone will make a new discovery, and that sparks the curiosity of another scientist who wants to take it one step further. But the next level requires new technology. So we invent the new technology, which leads to a new discovery, and then more technology is needed to bring the science one step further. It's all very cyclical.”

Bioanalytical Systems may sound like a distant, lab-laden land to the person who has never heard of instruments like chromatographs and mass spectrometers. Nevertheless, these devices affect us even as we walk down the aisles of a supermarket. Without analytical instruments, we wouldn't have package labels that tell us which vitamins and how much fat those blueberry muffins really have.

We also might not be able to detect small quantities (down to the level of one part per billion) of dangerous chemicals that can contaminate our water or understand how pesticides can affect the fruit we eat.

If a pharmaceutical company wants to market a new type of medication, Bioanalytical Systems can help figure out if a pill, capsule, or liquid form will best serve the therapeutic objective. And the company does contract work with the major pharmaceutical companies to support clinical trials.

Kissinger says that as the years pass, he is more interested in using his company's equipment to study the chemistry of disease-what he calls “chemical measurements to support health care research.” In recent years, Kissinger's company has developed instruments that will measure biochemical changes in diseases that range from Alzheimer's to manic-depression.

“Aging is something I get more interested in every year,” Kissinger says. “But it's also a major concern for the country and the health care world. We've been able to keep people alive

longer, so keeping the elderly healthy has become a new challenge. They're getting a well-deserved break from earning income, but the country is spending more on their health care every year. There's a lot of incentive for us to find solutions to the diseases affecting them.”

When Kissinger began his career as chemist during the 1960s, he and his colleagues at the University of North Carolina and the University of Kansas could figure out if a chemical was present in brain tissue but could not easily find the chemical's specific location.

Today, scientists can analyze neurotransmitters in living tissue or study a pin-prick's worth of blood from a premature infant. Not only that, says Kissinger, the machines that perform such tasks require personnel with less training, which in turn lowers the overall cost.

“Back in the 1950s and 1960s, science received a lot more positive attention,” he says. “People were excited about the Mercury astronauts and even the invention of the Teflon-coated pan.”

Then came the Vietnam War and the 1970s, when the public learned about environmental problems and associated them with chemical companies that were producing Napalm and Agent Orange. The industry has been trying to shake its poor image ever since.

“Scientists have to do a better job of educating the general public,” Kissinger insists. “If we don't, people don't truly understand the real problems we're facing, and that just results in bad legislation.”

Kissinger, who has published more than 175 scientific papers, delivered more than 300 lectures, and written several books, doesn't plan to stop spreading the word about the virtues of science and chemistry anytime soon.

“I'm still running around like a mad person, much like I did at Union,” he says with a laugh. “It's fun to direct research, teach, and sell products all in one day.”

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Thanks to the “Bicentennial 200”

Posted on May 1, 1995

Many people contributed in many ways to the success of the Bicentennial Celebration. One little-known group of important contributers are the “Bicentennial 200,” who helped underwrite the cost of the celebration.

These alumni and friends made special gifts above their capital commitments to the Bicentennial Campaign and their continuing, generous support of the Annual Fund. The College gratefully acknowledges the following “Bicentennial 200” members:

  • Robert '49 and Virginia Abbe 

  • Barbara C. Burek '75 
  • William G. Burns '54 
  • Robert F. Cummings, Jr. '71 
  • Robert DeMichele '66 
  • Anne Dyson, M.D. 
  • Robert B. Enemark '50 
  • Michael J. Epstein '59, M.D. 
  • Stephanie Stone '86 and Ludovico Feoli 
  • Robert H. Furman '40, M.D. 
  • Raymond V. Gilmartin, Jr. '63 
  • William R Grant '49 
  • Albert K Hill '46 
  • Joseph '47 and Barbara Hinchey 
  • Roger H. Hull 
  • Sherwood B. Lee '65, M.D. 
  • Frederick J. Longe '42 
  • Frank '73 and Colleen Messa 
  • Joseph E. Milano '36, Ph.D. 
  • William W. Mulvey '38 
  • Gerard A. Neumann '36 
  • Norton H. Reamer '58 
  • James Rubenstein '68, M.D. 
  • Jerome Serchuck 
  • Kenneth B. Sharpe 43 
  • Peter K Smith '70 
  • Doris Stone '73H 
  • Samuel Z. Stone 
  • Union College Alumni Council 
  • William A. Waldron '35 
  • John S. Wold '38 
  • Peter C. Van Dyke '38 
  • Morton '36 and Helen Yulman
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Thanks to U

Posted on May 1, 1995

More than 1,000 alumni, parents, and friends around the country joined the Founders Day celebration on campus via satellite. More than ninety signed up for the Boston event, for example; Detroit, Denver, Raleigh/Durham, and Seattle each had thirty; Los Angeles had forty-five; and Washington, D.C., attracted seventy-five.

The Alumni Affairs Office and the College want to recognize the special group of volunteers who helped make our 200th birthday celebration such an overwhelming success.

Thanks to:

  • Saul Adler '64 

  • Brownell Bailey '76 
  • William Batcheller '76 
  • Katherine Boyd Boxley '79 
  • Frederick Brandt '47 
  • Philip Beuth '54 
  • Sarah McMahon Cohen '84 
  • Jean Judson Collin '76 
  • James Dickson '35 
  • Robert Danziger '89 
  • David Eales '63 
  • Katherine Douglass Friedl '85 
  • Thomas Gade '61 
  • Ernest Gardow '56 
  • Karin Krowlikowski Garner '86 
  • Byron George '49 
  • Jeffrey Gower '92 
  • Matthew Guilfoyle '80 
  • Karl Hartmann '90 
  • Donald Hawkes '37 
  • Thomas Hitchcock '66 
  • Robert '62 and Barbara Holland 
  • Alan Horn '64 
  • Reeve Howland '63 
  • Kenneth Hoyt '59 
  • Karen Huggins '77 
  • Ronald Jennett '52 
  • Jodi Brenner Kaplan '84 
  • Neil Kleinman '63 
  • Norman Kreisman '47 
  • Stephen Kronish '73 
  • Lee Landes '45 
  • Gary Morris '65 
  • Craig Rideout '88 
  • Charles '60 and Leslie Roden 
  • Joel Roslyn '72 
  • Martin Sands '83 
  • Edwin Scantlebury '41 
  • Larry Schwartz '41 
  • Patricia Seftel '80 
  • Douglas Seholm '57 
  • Donald Sirkin '49 
  • Peter Slavis '73 
  • Nina Smilari '91 
  • Gail '74 and Louis '73 Snitkoff 
  • Allan Starr '66 
  • Richard Steinwurtzel '72 
  • G. Curtis Stewart '37 
  • Richard Tyndall '44 
  • Marie DeFazio Tricarico '82 
  • John Wing '58.

We couldn't have done it without U.

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