Opening drive: Union football kicked off in 1886, a year after President Chester A. Arthur (Class of 1848) finished his term.
Scoreboard: Since 1982, Union's Fighting Dutchmen have compiled a dominating record of 177-49-0 – a winning percentage of .783.
Title team: The Dutchmen have been invited to nine NCAA tournaments. They've also captured five ECAC titles.
Going deep: The team boasts five perfect regular season records and 23 consecutive non-losing seasons.
Crosstown rivals: The 118-year-old gridiron battle for the Dutchman's Shoes Trophy between Union and Rensselaer is the oldest collegiate football rivalry in New York state.
Pigskin vets: The oldest alums in the Fighting Dutchmen Gridiron Club are Charlie Snow and Dick Roberts, Class of 1950.
Top of the line(men): Two of the first five athletes inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame were football players Ken Whalen '49 and Rich Romer '88.
In the trenches: Frank Bailey Field is named for the Class of 1885 alum who was a longstanding College trustee, treasurer and benefactor. The $1.7 million stadium complex, inaugurated in 2002, seats 1,500.
Fall kickoff: The Dutchmen will face off against Kings Point during Homecoming Weekend this fall.
California Cowboy Mark Milano '74: At Home on the Range…
There's a little bit of cowboy in every American. In the case of Mark Milano '74, there's a whole lot of cowboy. This Union alum went West, combining his passion for the outdoors with a successful petroleum business and blazing trails – literally – as a 21st century cowboy and oilman.
These days, you'll find him roaming on horseback, protecting 26,000 acres of ranch land in California's Tehachapi Mountains, while also running his $200 million-a-year company, Paramount Petroleum Corporation.
“My passion for ranching affords me the opportunity to be with horses, one of the most magnificent animals on earth,” he says. “The people I work with are down-to-earth, hard-working cowboys who accept relatively low pay but have great respect for the land, nature, their cattle and their fellow man.”
Milano graduated from Union with a B.S. in chemistry and biology and a love of nature and how the world works inspired by ecology Professor Carl George. Determined never to work in the “big, bad world of business,” he moved to a remote one-room schoolhouse, grew zucchini and did odd jobs.
He admits he was feeling adrift when a friend urged him to apply for a marketing position with Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO).
“I had no business background. ARCO was very understaffed so I wound up with massive responsibilities.” He learned a lot quickly and, to his own surprise, succeeded.
A short stint in ARCO's internal audit department to broaden his business background proved less successful. “I was working at a supervisory level and was very uncomfortable doing auditing. I thought people were mispronouncing when they said 'debit.' I thought they meant debt.”
He earned an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University after returning to ARCO's crude oil and products supply and marketing department. Before long, he took another leap into the unknown when presented with the chance to open a West Coast office of an Enron crude oil trading subsidiary.
“I started with nothing, and it was scary. Fear is a great motivator. It led me to work hard and figure it out.”
In 1993, Milano and three partners purchased Paramount Petroleum of Los Angeles after it had twice gone bankrupt. The former ecology student and reluctant auditor helped grow the company to its current stature as the leading manufacturer and marketer of asphalt for paving and roofing materials in the five western states, with a 55,000-barrel-a-day refinery, more than 400 employees and operations in eight states.
He is proud that the Environmental Defense Fund, not generally considered friendly to refiners, has ranked Paramount one of the nation's Top 10 cleanest refineries for the past six years. This year, the company also received awards on the local, state and federal levels for its outstanding community service.
An avid hiker and fly fisherman in addition to horseman, Milano divides his time between his Paramount offices and his ranch, where he lives with his wife, Jessie, three dogs, some horses and “lots of friends.”
Says Milano, “I love raising cattle, fixing fence, riding and roping, coming full circle to the kinds of things I loved to do before I got my first real job. It's a fascinating piece of American history, but this way of life is dwindling as centuries-old ranchland is sold for commercial development.
“The mystique of the cowboy is very romantic. I wish I had 50 more years to get better at it.”
…And on campus
Mark Milano may have gone West, but his heart remains lassoed by powerful connections made back East. His best friends are roommate Dennis Walker '74 and Dennis' wife, Nancy (Nelson) Walker '74, with whom he has attended College ReUnions. His interest in community involvement began when he and Nancy Walker launched a Big Brothers Big Sisters program on campus. “Union was outstanding for me as a living and learning environment,” Milano said. “I came from a small town and was very shy, but I felt very comfortable in that small community.”
It's nicknamed “The Sunroom” – a bright, cozy space on the main floor of Abbe Hall – and the Class of 1954 is raising $50,000 to endow it.
“We all have fond memories of the campus on sun-filled afternoons,” said Class President Tony Tartaglia. Added Class ReUnion Volunteer Richard Herman: “We were happy to give a gift that was memorable, and this is a unique opportunity – a cheerful, sunny room that lends itself to small meetings. Everyone is very excited about Abbe Hall.”
The giving history of this class – the first post-war class without a large contingent of WWII veterans – certainly qualifies as memorable. Phil Beuth donated the library atrium and William Burns also has been very generous in his giving.
The Class of 1954 was “the first that was overwhelmingly made up of young high school graduates,” noted Tartaglia. “There was a bond, as a class, right from the start of the four-day orientation camp at Pilot Knob. We were a wonderful, close-knit class that developed a real camaraderie that has lasted for many years.”
Class of 1974: Where They Belong
The Great Room is the gathering place, the heart, of South College. The class is working to raise $125,000 in support of the renovation of the room.
“We wanted to do something tangible and worthwhile to rally our class and come up with an increased amount of giving, beyond what we usually do, as part of our ReUnion year,” said Class Giving Co-Chair Dick Samuels. “We thought it was particularly worthwhile, given the positive experiences and sense of belonging that will be engendered through the house system, and the amount seemed an appropriate and achievable goal.”
“If our gift helps Union improve its competitive position and adds to the social environment of school at the same time,” said Class President Jim Brennan, “the students will be the winners and we will be proud to have assisted.”
To help increase participation in the project, Dr. Hans and Janet Dwyer Black offered a match of up to $25,000 in gifts, regardless of size, for several months preceding ReUnion.
Class of 1979: Matches Up
ReUnion volunteer Jim Lippman wants his Class of 1979 classmates to become donors alongside him, and he wants them to attend ReUnion.
To make both prospects more appealing, Lippman will donate a match for every new gift – that is, a gift by any classmate who didn't give last year. He'll also match every increase in gifts by past donors this year.
He has allocated $100,000 for these matching gifts, which includes $50,000 that he already has committed.
Such encouragement is not new for Lippman, who earlier challenged his fellow alums on the 15th and 20th anniversaries of their graduation.
“I have a long history at Union,” said Lippman. “I'm a legacy; my dad was Class of 1950; my brother, Class of 1982.” His father's best friends, and his own, he noted, are from Union.
“Based on my love of Union, I wanted to create some stimulus for giving money,” he said. “Almost more important than raising money is to get people to come back for ReUnion.”
Lippman's work in this arena is far from complete. Never one to miss an opportunity to advance his alma mater, he recently took part in a phone-a-thon in New York City, along with two ReUnion chairs, Class Giving chair, and other class volunteers. They raised $18,000 in a single night.
Jason Oshins '87, Alumni Council president, attorney and Court TV pundit, is frequently in a hurry – but never, he says, when leaving the Union College campus, which he does reluctantly and only after driving completely around it. He does the same thing on arriving, as if reclaiming it.
“The first day I saw Union – October 25, 1982 – I knew,” said the early decision applicant. “It seemed like a 'central casting' idea for what a college should look like, and I knew I would thrive in a smaller environment.”
While at Union, Oshins founded Union's Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter, volunteered with the United Jewish Appeal, spent a term abroad and immersed himself in the community, working on political campaigns. As the Admissions Office's “Volunteer of the Year,” he searched in interviews for “self-confident people looking to make a difference, people who care about the community around them and fancy themselves as leaders and doers.”
After finishing his academic requirements early, he worked in a Manhattan law firm until graduation, but found himself returning to campus on weekends. Today, Oshins has law offices in Brooklyn and Fort Lee, N.J., but he continues to feel the pull and the allure of Union.
“Being Alumni Council president is incredibly fulfilling. When you care about something passionately, you want to spread the gospel,” he says. “I enjoy being part of that, of staying connected to the College to give back something and make it better. It's showing love to something that shows me love back.”
TAPPING INTO UNION'S TECH NETWORK: Nish Nadaraja '94
“We were right in the eye of the storm,” says Nish Nadaraja '94, recalling his experiences during the height of the late '90s economic boom.
“It was a crazed and exciting time, and we'll always look back on it and feel fortunate that we did well when so many other companies didn't.”
The “we” in that high-tech whirl includes two other Union alumni – Jason Epstein '95 and Greg Monahan '95. Together, the three built Bind Networks Inc. into a highly successful IT solutions company, with such clients as Walmart.com, Hummer Winblad and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“When we moved to San Francisco in 1998, we knew two people,” Nadaraja says. “Ned Walley ('93), my predecessor as chapter president, helped get us started by introducing us to other Union alums.”
Though they've since sold the company and pursued separate opportunities, the alumni attraction remains strong. Nadaraja has enthusiastically embraced his role as president of the 452-member Northern California Alumni Club. This thriving group sponsors about four events each year, such as a private tour of California wineries arranged by wine industry insider Aaron Blum '80.
“It's a great thrill to hook up total strangers for the first time and watch the magic happen,” Nadaraja says.
The Meaning of Union: Jessica Adelson-Alton '89
While working in New York City in magazines and online publishing, it became exceedingly clear to Jessica Adelson-Alton '89 that “Union had nurtured my liberal arts fundamentals and values – my communication skills, writing and interacting.”
Now, in marketing and business development for a catering firm, this volunteer is dedicated to sharing the meaning of Union with her fellow alumni.
She recently hosted a unique event in her Manhattan loft for Union graduates from the classes of 1987-1991, featuring William Thomas, professor of French and International Programs director. Complete with suggested readings, the evening evolved as a wide-ranging conversation about internationalism.
“Professor Thomas touched so many people through the term abroad program, bringing lasting effects into their lives,” said Adelson-Alton, who also holds a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University. “I decided to leverage this Union asset, to bring him here to New York and get people engaged.
“We immediately connected through the shared experience of the College,” she said. “People need to be reached in a personal way, and this event really tied in with what the College does. People didn't want to leave.”
While at Union, Adelson-Alton won the Daniel F. Pullman Prize for classical scholarship, spent her junior year in Japan and joined Sigma Delta Tau and the student-run theater group, Mountebanks. “Professor Barry Smith's improv class was great for me,” she recalled.
In all of her activities, she said, “The size of the college and the intimacy of it made it feel like you were important, that you didn't dissolve into the crowd.”
For nearly five decades, Donald S. '46 and Armand V. '42 Feigenbaum have been initiating and implementing quality control and management systems at some of the world's largest corporations.
Donald is one of the acknowledged world leaders in systems management and systems engineering and co-author with his brother, Armand, of the very successful recent book, The Power of Management Capital, from McGraw-Hill, with editions also in China, Brazil, Japan, Korea and many other countries.
Armand – known as “Val” – is the originator of Total Quality Control and Management, an approach to quality and profitability that has profoundly influenced business management strategy. His book on the subject has been published in many languages and is the basic text on quality systems and improvements.
Natives of Pittsfield, Mass., both received their undergraduate degrees at Union, Val with a B.A. in industrial administration and Don with a B.S. in electrical engineering. Their many honors include honorary doctorates from the College and other institutions.
Several years ago, a Business Week profile summed up Armand V. and Donald S. Feigenbaum's approach to quality control and management in two sentences: “Never Mind the Buzzwords. Roll Up Your Sleeves.”
For nearly three decades, the magazine noted, the two former General Electric Co. engineers, working behind the scenes, have been streamlining operations at such corporations as Tenneco, Union Pacific, Citicorp, Pirelli, Fiat, Johnson Controls and 3M.
“Their advice is pragmatic, and it saves companies big bucks,” the magazine said admiringly.
You might assume that the two men who have the ear of leading executives around the world would operate out of high-powered offices in New York City.
You would be wrong.
Instead, the two brothers share an attractive suite in the headquarters of the company they founded, General Systems, Inc. It looks out over the city square in Pittsfield, the city in the Berkshires where they were raised and where they returned to live. Val is the company's president and chief executive officer and Don is executive vice president and chief operating officer. Together, they form General Systems' executive office from which they manage the company's global operations.
That Val and Don Feigenbaum eschew the fancy trappings of the big city comes as no surprise when you talk with them. Soft spoken and unassuming, they take a conservative approach with their customers (they don't use the word client). Shunning quick fixes or slash-and-burn tactics, they get to know each customer individually as they seek to eliminate inefficiencies and instill a commitment to quality.
Every inefficiency and disconnect eliminated, they say, reduces total product costs and improves end user satisfaction. Every company committed to total quality is a company that is being managed to serve its customers – and it is the customers who, in the end, decide the quality of a company's products and make their purchase decisions accordingly.
CREATING RESULTS AND RELATIONSHIPS
The brothers do not see themselves as consultants, a word that connotes an outside advisor, nor do they see their company as a consulting company.
“General Systems is an execution company – an implementation company, an engineering company – in a broader sense than the word is typically used,” Val says. “We think of ourselves as systems engineers or systems managers. What we want to do is create results and relationships with customers.”
Adds Don, “We don't advise people. We work with people to build something. Most people think of systems as computers. We see people, machines, and information that have to be integrated. We build the internal processes.”
And it works. When the Feigenbaums and General Systems were called in by Tenneco, the company reported failure costs of $2.9 billion a year. The chief executive officer of Tenneco, in a recent book, has written that in three years the Feigenbaums' Cost of Quality approach created $2 billion of savings – real margins without sacrificing the core businesses or the company's valuable people.
The CEO said, “We called it 'soft restructuring,' but really it was our 'silver bullet.' ”
And it is principles such as these that the Feigenbaums emphasize for their corporate customers throughout all of the 24 industry groups that General Systems has served.
The brothers note that they have worked for two “generals” in their lives. One, of course, is General Systems, which they founded in 1968. The other is General Electric, where together they put in 42 years of experience before striking out on their own.
The General Electric connection is, in a way, a natural. Their mother's father had gone to work at GE in Pittsfield at the start of the 20th century. (“He knew Charles Steinmetz and spoke about him,” Val recalls fondly.) Their mother, Hilda, was a concert pianist, and their father, Samuel, was a CPA who ran his own accounting firm.
Val was an apprentice toolmaker at GE right after graduating from Pittsfield High School, but came to Union after he was told it was a good place for someone who wanted to become a balanced engineer.
“If you look at the unique character of Union – its small size and its blend of the liberal arts and engineering – that appealed to me,” he says. “It was the right decision – a place where I could spend all afternoon in a lab and edit the college paper at night.”
Don had a variety of summer jobs while he was in high school, one as an assistant to the cutters in a local textile mill, one as an usher in the local theater. He came to Union intent on becoming an engineer, but left after two and a half years to join the Navy during World War II. After serving with the Seabees in the Philippines, he restarted his junior year at Union.
“I still wanted to be an engineer, but not one who sat in the corner pushing a slide rule,” he says. “I wanted a liberal, broad education.”
Both men rose quickly at GE. Val was director of quality at GE's huge Schenectady operations in his early twenties, and Don rapidly moved up to major management responsibility in the company's jet engine business before leaving to become general manager and chief operating officer of International Systems Co.
“We learned a great deal at GE, but we wanted to be our own boss as much as anyone can be,” Val says. When their paths crossed on a plane in Sao Paulo, they decided the time was right. Val left GE, where he was worldwide director of manufacturing and quality control in New York, and he and Don launched General Systems with headquarters in New York City.
Their first morning in business they received a call from Volvo of Sweden that led to their first assignment, a two-year project applying systems engineering techniques. Success there led to other work in Europe for such companies as Alfa Romeo and Renault, in Japan for major organizations, and back in the U.S., where General Motors and Bechtel were among their first customers.
Soon realizing that they were going to be traveling all over the world (half their business has always been international), they decided they may as well do that from the place they always called home, and they moved their company headquarters from New York to Pittsfield.
SERVING THE WORLD
Today, General Systems' list of companies served includes many American and global corporate leaders such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Cummins Engine, Ford, John Deere, SKF, Shell, Volkswagen and IBM, as well as organizations in Japan, Brazil, China and other countries. And the brothers continue to write. Their latest book, The Power of Management Capital, from McGraw-Hill, has been attracting a large number of readers throughout the world.
Both Val and Don point out that Pittsfield has a long history of success in technology and is a good environment for the headquarters of a company like General Systems. “Our international customers know the big U.S. cities as well as we do,” Val says, “but Pittsfield and the Berkshires are a welcome experience for them. They call Pittsfield the World Capital of Total Quality Management.”
Don mentions how their recent keynote speech to a major management conference in Dubai was delivered. “They sent a team from Germany to holograph us so we were speaking and walking and talking in Dubai, when we were in fact at our desks here.”
And the brothers emphasize these points with a wall clock in their outer office with a gold star placing Pittsfield at the center of the global business geography.
SERVING THE COMMUNITY
The two say they feel a great sense of responsibility toward their hometown, and they have had leadership roles with the Berkshire Bank, the Berkshire Athenaeum, Hancock Shaker Village, Colonial Theatre and the Berkshire Museum, among other institutions. That level of involvement mirrors their years at Union, where their activities included a fraternity (Kappa Nu), the Student Council, Concordiensis and the Philomathean Society.
These days, the brothers give no evidence that they plan to slow their pace.
“Our grandmother always said that people rust out faster than they wear out,” Don says. “So we continue to get out among our customers and stay completely involved in helping transform the people we work with.”
Adds Val, “I like to recall another one of our grandmother's admonitions – the minute you close your mind is when you think your teachers have nothing left to teach you.”
The Union Experience
Val and Don Feigenbaum regularly return to campus, where they admire such changes as the new House System and Converging Technologies. For eight years they have sponsored the Feigenbaum Forum, designed to stimulate dialogue about the integration of corporate management principles in the administration of institutions of higher education. They are particularly pleased with the impetus from the Forum.
“Look at the conversation over the years,” Don says. “Everyone who attends is interested in his or her own discipline, of course. But they are also interested in producing well-educated students, and these days that means knowing both the liberal arts and engineering.”
“One of the phrases we like is 'organization transformation,' and this is what is happening at Union,” Val adds.
“One of Union's challenges is to recognize its own strengths,” he continues. “Today, if you're a pure technician, Heaven help you in terms of your career. You'll be obsolete in two years.”
“Union, with Converging Technologies, recognizes that technology by itself isn't enough,” Don says. “It's converging education. We're going to live in a technologically advancing society with constant social and cultural pressures. So, get as broad an education as possible, but not so broad that you don't have a profession.”
“Transformation is a constant process,” Val observes. “Still, if you had to invent a college that fits the times, you'd invent what Union is right now.”
And Don adds that “with the experience I have had – and if I had to do it over again – I would go to Union.”