Fiat Welcome and Thanks to our Trustees!

We are pleased to announce the appointment of four new members to our Board of Trustees, and the awarding of Life Trustee status to four others. Alfred University welcomes MaryJo Finocchiaro ’86, William Giles ’81, Bryan Hill ’90, and Dennis Kessler to the Board and recognizes Life Trustees Peter Cuneo ’67, Leslie Gelber ’77, Robert McComsey ’66, and Robert Meltzer ’60 for their combined 113 years of service.

Our success as an institution has always been due in no small part to the dedication of an active and engaged Board. We are thrilled to have MaryJo, Bill, Bryan, and Dennis join our Board. They have enjoyed tremendous success in their professional careers and are committed to enhancing our University’s impact in terms of transforming student lives and bettering our world.

MaryJo Finocchiaro earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Alfred University. She is the president and founder of InnFACT Advisors in Boca Raton, Florida. InnFACT Advisors, which MaryJo founded in July, is a hospitality real estate advisory firm specializing in investment management, financial services, and data analytics.

MaryJo Finocchiaro ‘86

From 2006-2020, MaryJo served as executive vice president and CFO of BRE Hotels and Resorts, a hospitality advisory firm and Blackstone affiliate. Before coming to BRE, MaryJo served as vice president and chief accounting officer of Boca Resorts, Inc., a publicly held owner and operator of luxury resorts, from 1997 to 2004. From 1988 until 1997, she held a number of financial management positions at Bluegreen Corporation, a publicly-held developer and marketer of timeshare resorts and planned residential and golf communities. Prior to Bluegreen, she was an auditor with Price Waterhouse (now PwC).

MaryJo resides in Delray Beach, Florida, with her husband, Brian, and their three children.

William Giles, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Alfred University, is chief financial officer and executive vice president of finance, information technology, and store development for AutoZone in Memphis, Tennessee.

William Giles ‘81

Prior to joining AutoZone in 2006, Bill spent 15 years at Linens Holding Co. (formerly Linens ‘n Things), serving in a number of roles, including CFO, senior vice president, and executive vice president. A certified professional accountant, Bill began his career as an accountant with Price Waterhouse (now PwC).

Bill is married to fellow Alfred University graduate Jill (Peperone) Giles ’81, who earned bachelor’s degrees in accounting and finance. Jill served as an alumni elected trustee from 1993-1996 and is a part-time assistant professor of business at Rhodes College in Memphis. The couple resides in Germantown, Tennessee, and has three children.

Bryan Hill, who graduated from Alfred University with a bachelor’s degree in public administration, has enjoyed a successful career in government administration. Since January of 2018, he has been county executive in Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the two wealthiest counties in the country. Fairfax County has over 12,000 employees and an annual budget of $4.5 billion.

Bryan Hill ’90

Before to his appointment in Fairfax County, Bryan served as county administrator of James City County, Virginia, from 2014 until 2018 and before that, as deputy county administrator in Beaufort County, South Carolina, from 2008-2014. Prior to beginning his career in government administration, Bryan worked in education: at the University of South Carolina’s Beaufort/Bluffton campus, as chancellor of finance and operations; and at the University of Maryland, as director of finance for the Office of Information and Technology, and director of administration for the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

Bryan, who has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California, served as the keynote speaker at Alfred University’s 2018 Opening Convocation ceremony. He resides in Fairfax, Virginia, and has three sons.

Dennis Kessler is the Edward and Agnes Ackley Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School and director of the Entrepreneurship Program at Simon. He is also the co-owner of Kessler Restaurants and Real Estate Development LLC, based in Rochester, New York. In his former role as franchisee for Burger King Corporation and Friendly’s Restaurants, Dennis employed approximately 3,000 staff in central and western New York State, including a location in Hornell.

Dennis Kessler

In 2006, Dennis was inducted into the Rochester Business Hall of Fame. He is a former member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Rochester Medical Center and past chair and commissioner of the City of Rochester Civil Service Commission. In June of 2018, Dennis was appointed Commissioner of the New York State Insurance Fund by Governor Cuomo and confirmed by the New York State Senate.

Dennis is a graduate of the City University of New York and holds a master’s degree from John Jay College. He earned a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale University as well as Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science degrees from Northwestern University. He resides in Rochester.

We are deeply grateful for the passion for improving Alfred University, and the generous support Peter Cuneo, Les Gelber, Bob McComsey, and Bob Meltzer provided our University during their tenures on our Board of Trustees.

Peter Cuneo initially served as a trustee from 1990 until 1993 and was re-elected to our Board in 1996. His tenure as a trustee included six years (2007-2013) as chair of our Board and six years (2001-2007) as vice chair, earning him Chair Emeritus Life Trustee status. During his Board tenure, Peter served on the Human Resources (chair), Executive (chair and vice chair), Admissions (chair), Facilities and Grounds, Strategic Planning (chair), and Trusteeship committees. He also served on the Endowment Campaign Planning and Campaign Steering committees.

Peter is renowned for his ability to reverse the fortunes of struggling businesses. His most notable business turn-around was at Marvel Comics where he led efforts to transform the bankrupt company into one of the world’s leading entertainment brands, Marvel Entertainment. Peter’s business expertise has served Alfred University well. As chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Marketing, he led efforts to launch a new marketing and branding initiative, characterized by the tagline “Outside of Ordinary.” He was the keynote speaker in May for the virtual celebration organized for our University’s 2020 graduates and exhorted our graduates to be Saxon warriors and leaders during these challenging COVID-19 times.

Les Gelber served 17 years as a member of our Board of Trustees. He was elected to our Board in 2002 and served six years (2007-2013) as Board vice chair before serving four years (2013-2017) as Board chair. He was awarded Chair Emeritus Life Trustee status by our Board during the past academic year.

As the chair of the presidential search committee, Les was instrumental in the selection as well as the recruitment of yours truly. He served on the Executive (chair), Finance, Human Resources, Investment, Statutory Affairs and Government Relations (vice chair), Strategic Planning (chair), Student Affairs, Trusteeship, and Advancement committees.

Bob McComsey, who earned Chair Emeritus Life Trustee status, served 39 years on our Board (1980-2019). Following a six-year term as Board vice chair (1995-2001), he served six years as Board chair (2001-2007). McComsey was chair of our Board during six of the most tumultuous years in Alfred University’s recent history, beginning in 2002 when Benjamin Klein ’03 died, triggering an investigation by the Board of Trustees into the Greek system and eventually leading to a nearly unanimous decision (one abstention) by the Board to phase out fraternities and sororities at our University.

During his tenure, Bob served on the Academic Affairs (chair), Admissions, Audit, Executive (chair), Finance, Human Resources, (vice chair), Investment, Strategic Planning, and Statutory Affairs and Government Relations committees, as well as numerous ad-hoc committees. He was a member of the Presidential Search committees when Edward C. Coll, Jr., became the 12th president and Charles M. Edmondson was named the 13th president.

Bob Meltzer was elected to our Board of Trustees in 1990. During his three decades on our Board, he served on the Facilities and Grounds committee (chair), Trusteeship, Executive, Audit (chair), Finance, Strategic Planning, Student Affairs, and Advancement (vice chair) committees.

Bob chaired the “Campaign for Alfred University,” which raised $83 million for our University, and served on the Endowment Campaign Planning committee as well. In addition, he was a member of the ad hoc committee on Marketing, which guided efforts to create a new marketing and branding initiative for Alfred University and led to the creation of a Marketing and Communication Department. He also served as liaison to the Council on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) Council of Governing Boards.

Please join me in welcoming Mary Jo Finocchiaro, William Giles, Bryan Hill, and Dennis Kessler to our Board of Trustees, and in thanking Peter Cuneo, Les Gelber, Bob McComsey, and Bob Meltzer for all they have done and continue to do for Alfred University.

Fiat welcome and thanks to our trustees!