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In business, fortunes turn on a dime

Posted on May 25, 2006

Union College students, some of them would-be business owners, gathered Wednesday at the school's F.W. Olin Center to hear what it's like to succeed — and fail — as an entrepreneur.

Bo Peabody, a venture capitalist from Williamstown, Mass., who owned a high-flying Internet start-up during the 1990s, appeared there before the student-run Entrepreneurship Club.

He said almost every successful business was once on the verge of failure. So he told the students to brace for it.

“Google went through some very, very difficult times, and nobody tells that story,” Peabody said. “These businesses are always, always on the brink just before they become successful.”

Three students in the crowd are working hard on their own businesses already, so Peabody's comments were especially important to them.

Brian Selchick, a senior, established eWired Auctions LLC of Albany, which conducts online auctions for charities. Two sophomores, Josh DeBartolo and Steve Walker, have created a Web site — http://www.campusoutlaw.com — that allows college students to buy and sell used textbooks from each other.

Selchick said he looks up to Peabody, who graduated from Williams College in 1994, especially since he found success in business at an early age.

At Williams, Peabody created the Web site company Tripod Inc., which later was sold to Internet search engine Lycos Inc. for $58 million in stock. He now is a managing general partner of Village Ventures, a network of venture capital funds. He also owns two restaurants and a catering business in the Berkshires.

“A guy like Bo, for me, is a role model, a success story, all of that,” Selchick said. “We can point to guys like that and say this happens.”

It was Peabody's second speaking engagement in the Capital Region in the past year. Last June, he spoke to the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce about his book on being an entrepreneur, “Lucky or Smart?” Peabody said he has sold 50,000 copies of the book since it was published last year.

He said the book is also being used as reading for classes on 50 college campuses. He was invited to speak at Union because his book is being read in a history class about entrepreneurship in medieval Europe. Peabody's uncle is a Union graduate.

Jay Shah, a Union sophomore who is president of the Entrepreneurship Club, said the group has about 25 members, so he was glad that about double that number attended the event. He said he tried to launch an online dining business as a freshman that eventually failed, so Peabody's comments about success and failure hit home. He said Peabody energized him.

“I need to get a business going,” Shah said. “I need to come up with some innovative idea.”

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Juniors jump in on Monday

Posted on May 25, 2006

Admissions – Accepted Students Day – April 2006 – Olin and balloons

It’s time once more to roll out the welcome mats. More than 400 visitors are expected on campus Monday, May 29, for the annual Junior Jump Start Open House for high school juniors. Faculty and staff are invited to attend the luncheon in the Fieldhouse at noon. E-mail Lilia Tiemann at tiemannl@union.edu if you plan to attend.







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Ceremonies abound at ReUnion 2006

Posted on May 25, 2006

Class of '76 in parade at ReUnion 2006

The Union spirit was burning bright as close to 2,000 alumni from the classes of 1934 to 2005 came to campus for ReUnion 2006. Highlights included the 50th ReUnion medallion ceremony on Friday, alumni parade and convocation on Saturday morning, and the usual amazing ReUnion fireworks (courtesy of Steve Ente '75) on Saturday night.

Three alumni – Sigmund Giambruno '51, Albert Nahmias '66 and Trustee Mark Walsh '76 – received Alumni Council Gold Medals from the Alumni Council. Head Football Coach John Audino, who recently passed the 100-win mark, received the Meritorious Service Award. Robert Danziger '79, an outstanding volunteer, was elected alumni trustee. Also, at the Alumni Convocation, the College presented the Nott Medal for a distinguished professional career to Major General Robert Dickman '66. Dickman, who retired from the Air Force after heading important commands with the U.S. space program, has always credited Union's broad-based education. Alumni admissions volunteer awards went to Timothy McCabe '73 and Judy Keseberg '76. The Robert Laudise '52 Chemistry Award, for achievement in the field and support of Union's chemistry department, went to Peter P. Kissinger '66.

The Class of 1976 took the Anable Cup (for the greatest number in the Alumni Parade). The Class of 1951 earned the McClellan Cup (for the highest turnout at ReUnion). The Class of 1956 won the Van Voast/Class of 1941 Cup (for best costume). And the 50th ReUnion Class of 1956 won the 1943 ReUnion Award (for overall ReUnion effort).

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Chet Arthur and the Flaming Aces together again

Posted on May 25, 2006

By Ross Marvin '07

Q: Who put the bop in the bop-shoo-bop-shoo-bop? Who put the ram in the rama-lama ding-dong?

A: Union's original doo-wop sensations, Chet Arthur and the Flaming Aces, in their farewell concert last weekend at Memorial Chapel.

Chet Arthur & Flaming Aces, ReUnion

These self-described “guys in their fifties,” Don Amira '75, Mark MacDonald '75, Jonny Levin '75, Michael Goldsmith '76, Jim Kestenbaum '76, Bill Martin '76 and Sam Shor '76, sing songs from the '50s, and do it well. MacDonald, who holds down the bass end of the group, even fits into the same tank top, black jeans and sunglasses he wore to performances when he was a Union undergrad.

For the second straight year, Chet and the gang reunited to sing such hits as “Teen Angel” and “In the Still of the Night,” using the same a cappella arrangements they used 30 years ago. Then, they were one of the most popular acts on campus, sharing the stage with the Garnet Minstrels and Dutch Pipers.

The Aces began as an offshoot of the men's glee club, to which all of the Aces belonged.

“We used to sing oldies on the bus rides to our performances and in the crowd at basketball games,” says Amira, whose son, Dan, is now a junior at Union. “Soon enough, we had the idea to put together a group, so we greased our hair up, rolled up our pant legs and started practicing. We knew we had to have a lead singer and a group as part of the '50s tradition, so we figured you couldn't do any better than Chet Arthur.”

Chet Arthur & Flaming Aces

The doo-wop dudes were known for starting every show with a dramatic moment. Most notably, they drove a motorcycle down the Memorial Chapel aisle to jumpstart the crowd before a concert.

While at Union, the group also took to the road, performing at Hampshire College, Utica College, Russell Sage and the University of Albany, where one of their performances was televised for a local telethon.

A highlight of the show last weekend, during ReUnion, and a mainstay in their repertoire back in the '70s was their performance of the complete catalogue of the College songs.

“We always stressed the importance of the alma mater and the College songs,” says Goldsmith. “Now as alumni, we don't want to see them fade away. It was nice to come back here and perform with the Garnet Minstrels and the Dutch Pipers, and for all the people in the audience who may not often hear these songs. We did this last show because we love Union and we love singing.

“After 33 years, it still feels good.”

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Orzel, Mastroianni present poster

Posted on May 25, 2006

Chad Orzel, professor of physics, and Mike Mastroianni '07 presented a poster at the 37th annual meeting of the Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (DAMOP) of the American Physical Society in Knoxville, Tenn., recently. “An Optically Excited Metastable Krypton Atomic Beam Source” described work that began as a summer research project for Mastroianni. It involves a novel way of preparing atoms in a particular state that will be used to cool and trap them with lasers, as part of a project to measure radioactive backgrounds by detecting single krypton atoms. The project is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, with Mastroianni's travel supported by a DAMOP grant. The annual international research conference draws some 1,000 physicists.

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