Alfred University News

Alfred University welcomes four new Board members, recognizes Cuneo, Gelber, McComsey, and Meltzer as Life Trustees

From left: MaryJo Finocchiaro ’86, William Giles ’81, Bryan Hill ’90, and Dennis Kessler
From left: MaryJo Finocchiaro ’86, William Giles ’81, Bryan Hill ’90, and Dennis Kessler

Alfred University announces the appointment of four new members to its Board of Trustees, while also confirming four long-time Board members as Life Trustees.

ALFRED, NY – Alfred University announces the appointment of four new members to its Board of Trustees, while also confirming four long-time Board members as Life Trustees.

Alfred University alumni MaryJo Finocchiaro ’86, William Giles ’81, and Bryan Hill ’90, as well as Dennis Kessler were appointed to the Board. The appointments were made at the spring Board of Trustees meeting and became effective July 1. Peter Cuneo ’67, Leslie Gelber ’77, Robert McComsey ’66, and Robert Meltzer ’60 have been confirmed Life Trustees.

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

From 2006-2020, Finocchiaro served as executive vice president and CFO of BRE Hotels and Resorts, a hospitality advisory firm and Blackstone affiliate. Before coming to BRE, she 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, Finocchiaro was an auditor with Price Waterhouse, (now PwC).

Finocchiaro resides in Delray Beach, FL with her husband, Brian, and their three children.

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, TN. Prior to joining AutoZone in 2006, he 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, Giles began his career as an accountant with Price Waterhouse (now PwC).

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

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, VA, one of the two wealthiest counties in the country. Prior to his appointment in Fairfax County, Hill served as county administrator of James City County, VA, from 2014 until 2018 and before that, as deputy county administrator in Beaufort County, SC, from 2008 until 2014. Prior to beginning his career in government administration, Hill 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.

Hill, 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 Convocation ceremony. He resides in Fairfax, VA, and has three children.

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, NY. In his role as franchisee for Burger King Corporation and Friendly’s Restaurants, Kessler employed approximately 3,000 staff in central and western New York State, including a location in Hornell. In 2006, he was inducted into the Rochester Business Hall of Fame. Kessler 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, he was appointed Commissioner of the New York State Insurance Fund by Governor Cuomo and confirmed by the New York State Senate.

Kessler 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 honored to have MaryJo, Bill, Bryan, and Dennis join our Board,” said Mark Zupan, Alfred University president. “They have achieved considerable professional distinction and bring relevant and enviable expertise along with a consummate commitment to enhancing the visibility and impact of Alfred University when it comes to transforming student lives and bettering our world.”

Peter Cuneo, Les Gelber, Bob McComsey, and Robert Meltzer became Life Trustees after combining to serve 113 years on the Board.

Cuneo initially served as a Trustee from 1990 until 1993 and was re-elected to the Board in 1996. His tenure as a trustee included six years (2001-2007) as vice chair and six years (2007-2013) as chair of the Board, earning him Chair Emeritus Life Trustee status. During his Board tenure, Cuneo 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.

Cuneo 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 company from being in bankruptcy into Marvel Entertainment, one of the world’s leading entertainment brands. Cuneo’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.” Cuneo was the keynote speaker in May for the virtual celebration organized for our University’s 2020 graduates and exhorted the graduates to be leaders and Saxon warriors during these challenging COVID-19 times.

Gelber served 17 years as a member of the Board of Trustees. He was elected to the Board in 2002, and served six years (2007-13) as Board vice chair before serving four years (2013-17) as Board chair. He was awarded Chair Emeritus Life Trustee status by the Board in during the past academic year.

As the chair of the presidential search committee, Gelber was instrumental in the selection as well as the recruitment of President Mark Zupan. 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.

McComsey, who earned Chair Emeritus Life Trustee status, served 39 years on the 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 the 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, McComsey 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.

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

Meltzer chaired the “Campaign for Alfred University,” which raised $83 million for our University, and served on the Endowment Campaign Planning committee. 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 establishment of a Marketing and Communication Department. Meltzer also served as liaison to the Council on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) Council of Governing Boards.

 “We are deeply grateful for the leadership, thoughtful counsel, passion for improvement, and generous philanthropic support that Peter, Les, Bob, and Bob have provided to our University during their many years of service on our Board,” Zupan commented. “We look forward to their ongoing engagement and support now as Life Trustees.”