Fiat Alfred University Connections

I was off to New York City last Wednesday for meetings with various Alfred University alumni and friends. What I didn’t know until I arrived was the amount of overlap, generation to generation, among what I thought was going to be a disparate group.

My first stop of the day was a visit to Matthew Washington ’04, deputy president for the Borough of Manhattan. Matthew is also a member of our Alfred University Board of Trustees. When I told Matthew that my next meeting was with Richard ’62 and Freya ’64 Block, Matthew relayed that he had previously worked with Richard on a community project and offered to accompany me on the visit. Both of us met with the Blocks at their apartment in Manhattan and were able to enjoy their company plus a spectacular view of Central Park and the New York City skyline on a picture-perfect spring day.

Richard is the past president and chairman of the Consumer Packaging Group of Westvaco. Prior to that, he was president and CEO at Impac Group, Inc., which was acquired by Westvaco in 2000. He is a member of the board of directors of Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO), where he serves on the resource and board development committees. He just was honored with a major award for his work. Getting Out and Staying Out “empowers young men to avoid involvement in the criminal justice system by reshaping their futures through educational achievement, meaningful employment, and financial independence.”

When Richard took his first job in New York City and he and Freya married, Freya transferred to and earned a bachelor’s degree from New York University. She then went on to earn a master’s degree in environmental design from the Pratt Institute where she later served as an instructor while founding Freya Block Design, Incorporated. Freya’s design work for clients has been featured in major media publications such as Fortune.

From left, Mark Zupan, Richard Block ’62 and trustee Matthew Washington ’04

From left, Mark Zupan, Richard Block ’62 and trustee Matthew Washington ’04

But there’s more. My third appointment was with trustee Michele Cohen, who, even before she became acquainted with Alfred University through her son Adam ’03 BFA, was Freya Block’s first major client when Freya launched her design firm in 1986.

Later in the day, I met with Paul Neuman ’77 BFA, who now runs a successful catering business, Neuman’s Kitchen, with locations in New York City and Philadelphia. Paul has catered on numerous occasions for Michele Cohen, who is currently board chair for the Museum of Art and Design, and the Blocks, who are dear friends.

Another tale of connections: on Sunday, I had lunch with former trustee Enid Borden ’72 on a trip to Washington, D.C, and environs. Enid, who was founding director of the Meals on Wheels America Association, told me that her first Alfred University hire was Hot Dog Day co-founder Mark O’Meara ’74. My next meeting after lunch was an alumni gathering in northern Virginia hosted by none other than Mark, who now owns several movie theaters. Proving the depth of his commitment—something that no one who has ever been to Homecoming and seen Mark lead cheers could question—Mark ran Alfred University videos before each of the feature films at his theaters that day. Imagine how many “Avenger” fanatics we will end up recruiting to future Alfred University classes due to Mark O’Meara so fully living the Alfred University brand!

Fiat Alfred University Connections!