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Post Football Team

LIU Pioneers are part of a long-standing tradition of athletic excellence.
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Rita Iosefson

Class of 2014, LIU Post

The first ever Relay for Life was held the April of my senior year at Post. I was thankful to be able to share my mom's experience of when she was diagnosed with cancer. I am happy I'm able to be a part of this still, as I now work at LIU, and I will continue to raise money for the cause. Relay for Life is a great tradition that we started at Post. 

Lee Malkin

Class of 1969, LIU Post

You mentioned the reinstatement of fencing and wrestling teams. However, what about the famous CW Post Crew Teams? Crew is an Olympic sport. Coached by Coach Bouragard, the team, both Varsity and JV, competed in matches against Trinity and Amherst, Stony Brook and on the Valkill river in Philadelphia. Practice was five days a week including jogging, rowing, weight lifting and sprints. Our boathouse was in Bayville Long Island and we practice with rows on Oyster Bay.

Arthur Slate

Class of 1970, LIU Post

I was with the first group of student security for the Dome concerts. I remember that the Doors performed their first concert at Post after the death of Jim Morrison in France. For two consecutive years Chuck Berry would arrive early and treat the guys out front to a beverage or two! Joe Cocker was such a nice guy, Rest In Peace Joe. My dorm roomate from Nassau Hall, was a last minute security hire for the Jethro Tull concert , he ended up playing hand ball with the group members in an empty classroom near the dressing rooms. I remember Ian Anderson arriving quietly, wearing a brown tweed suit with his hair back in a pony tail. Then at showtime emerging from his dressing room in costume with hair flowing up in all directions and eyes stairing wildly.

I have great Post concert security memories from the front entrance, side dressing rooms, and stage area for the Doors, Sha Na Na, Jethro Tull, Chuck Berry, Mott the Hoople, Humble Pie, Robert Klein, George Carlin, the Chambers Brothers, Sam & Dave, Deep Purple, Chicago, Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath, Richie Havens, Harry Chapin, Seals and Croft, Thin Lizzy, the Band, Paul Butterfield, Leo Sayer, the Village People, Joe Cocker and Billy Joel.

Band in Rehearsal

Located at LIU Post, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts is Long Island’s premier concert hall.

Students on the Great Lawn

Discover everything LIU Post has to offer.

Robert Arning

Class of 1984, LIU Post

Forget the stereotype of the accountant hunched over a spreadsheet. Robert Arning, who recently celebrated his 32nd anniversary at the Big Four accounting firm KPMG LLP, has found the opposite:  “The most exciting thing about my job, and I would venture to say about any of the jobs in accounting, is that it’s very much a people business. It’s a very social, market-facing business,” Arning said.

“I’d like to think I woke up one day and knew I wanted to be an accountant.” Arning reflected. In reality, the first-generation college student who grew up in Astoria gravitated to the School of Professional Accountancy out of practicality. His brother was also studying accounting, and the goal was to “get a good job.”

The School of Professional Accountancy, located in today’s Lorber Hall, a handsome red brick Georgian building that was called Hutton House at the time, fairly buzzed with talk about accounting. “It had a very special feel about it,” Arning recalled. 

“The setting just made you feel really good and really special about wanting to be in the profession.” Arning particularly liked the diverse faculty, made up of full-time academics and current or former professionals in private practice. “You had a very good mix of real world and academia, so you felt you were being equipped to go out and be successful,” he said.

Right from the beginning, Arning immersed himself in campus life, becoming an active member of student government and the accounting society. He also worked as a bank teller and at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. In his junior year, he fortuitously learned of an opportunity at the Long Island office of what was then called Peat Marwick Mitchell for a “a pre-professional position.” He devoted himself to the job, working 20 hours a week during the school year and full time during breaks.

With job offers from six of the then-Big Eight accounting firms after graduation, Arning chose to stay with Peat Marwick, which would later become KPMG, and his responsibilities progressively increased and evolved along with the profession itself.

“The profession has grown and expanded in a very significant way to cover a lot more than it had years ago,” Arning said. “It’s now about data security, regulation, knowledge management, and business advice, in addition to the core mission of delivering high quality financial statement audits.”

In his current position as vice chair for market development, Arning is responsible for nurturing KPMG’s most important client relationships across the country. “I travel quite a bit around the United States, meeting with clients and prospective clients, and meeting with our people and our leadership teams to discuss how to improve and expand on how we serve our clients,” he said. “I try to identify what clients may need from us—both today and tomorrow.”

Thirty-one years after graduation, Arning still fondly recalls his time on the verdant campus of LIU Post. It’s where he developed the foundation for his career, and, not insignificantly, where he met his wife of 28 years, Lisa Capuzzi (also Class of 1984). “I had the time of my life at LIU Post,” Arning said, “but thankfully not too much fun.”

When he’s not working, Arning enjoys boating and fishing and is active in many nonprofit organizations. He serves on Carnegie Hall’s Board of Trustees and is an advisor to the Partnership for New York City.

He also remains active at his alma mater, serving on the Board of Directors and Executive Board of Advisors at LIU’s School of Management and returning to campus every year to help teach an M.B.A class. Arning also speaks to accounting students whenever he has a chance, letting them know that “The opportunities in accounting are tremendous, and maybe even greater today.”

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Linda Gorney

Class of 2004, LIU Post

My wonderful and rewarding relationship with LIU began circa 1998 when I was a recent college graduate living back home on Long Island after a couple of years studying at an upstate SUNY school. I was missing an academic environment and I enrolled in a continuing education course at LIU Post. It was a fabulous experience, and I returned for more. Since that time, I have earned two very enjoyable graduate degrees at the Post campus - a M.A. in Art and a M.S.L.I.S. in Library Science; I've been a member of the university orchestra; took part in group art exhibits; participated in events at the Pratt Recreation Center; attended multiple Homecomings; and made so many incredible friends. LIU is an extraordinary place with so much to offer students, faculty, staff and friends. 

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Kenneth Pelletier

Class of 1980, LIU Post

I was a Graduate Assistant at Hillwood Commons for two years ('75-'77) where I worked on numerous events in the Dome including rock concerts - Bruce Springsteen, Seals & Croft, Phoebee Snow (& others). also classical concerts Beverly Sills & Los Angeles Symphony & George Burns & Richard Leakey. One of my top moments was winning the dance marathon along with my partner (sponsored by the marine & env. science student assoc.) only topped by walking through the Dome the morning after it fell. I think of the Dome every Holiday season as I hear Bruce singing two songs recorded at the Dome.

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Sigma Alpha Mu, 1999

The brothers of Delta Sigma

Rosemary Roser

Class of 1981, LIU Post

Rose Roser attends the Super Bowl every year. It’s one of the perks as VP and controller of the National Football League, a position this football fan has enjoyed since 2004. This year’s nail-biting game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots was a particular thrill. “It was a tremendous game. It was a crushing loss for the Seahawks and an amazing victory for the Patriots,” said Roser, staying neutral despite the drama. “When you work for the NFL, you root for all 32 teams.”

Roser’s philosophy is that a career isn’t a linear, straight-up-the-ladder path. It’s about keeping skills sharp and building a “mosaic of experiences,” she said. “It’s about getting an amalgamation of skills that positions you for where you want 
to be.”

And she has certainly created a rich and colorful mosaic for herself. When she was in high school, Roser thought she would do anything but accounting, her father’s profession. An accomplished classical pianist who practiced for hours each day, she considered a career in music. But like many students, she explored various majors at LIU Post. “Then I latched on to accounting, and I saw that I was very good at it,” she said.

Roser, who graduated summa cum laude from the School of Professional Accountancy, credits the strong curriculum and dedicated professors at LIU for giving her the grounding she needed for success. “The education was excellent. Top notch,” she said. “Some of the professors were quite tough, but they were preparing you for a challenging position in real life.” She received job offers from a number of the Big Eight accounting firms, and, like many of her LIU Post classmates, chose to join KPMG, in Jericho, N.Y.  

At KPMG, she rose from assistant accountant to senior audit manager over the course of a decade. Next, Roser moved into the  private sector, first as vice president and controller at Roosevelt Savings Bank in Garden City, N.Y., then as the controller of Comforce Corp., a temporary staffing services company in Woodbury, N.Y., followed by a five-year run as controller of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, one of the largest and most prestigious international law firms in 
the world.

When Roser was recruited to become VP and controller of the NFL, the high-profile organization liked her wide-ranging experience. “The rigor and discipline of being a bank controller and managing a lot of money, having implemented a PeopleSoft accounting system at Comforce, and experience working in an entrepreneurial organization at Skadden gave me the right mix of skills,” she said.

As a privately held business organization, the NFL puts a tremendous emphasis on publishing sound financial information, Roser said. “A lot of time at my level is spent making sure we are aligned—that finance understands the accounting and that accounting understands the finance, and that we’re getting the right input in our new business opportunities.”

“Throughout your life, doors will open and others will close,” Roser said. “[LIU] taught me the importance of excellence, hard work, and continuous learning. After that, the rest was up to me.”

Erich Preis

Class of 1999, LIU Post

Over the last 13 years, I have helped to raise thousands of dollars holding street raffles and auctions of my art, donating 100% of the proceeds to homeless veterans and veterans who need assistance. The passing of my best friend and college roommate is what inspired me to start my charitable work as all of the veteran outreach is done in memory of Michael A. Noeth.

At the age of 30, I was diagnosed with autism. Despite growing up with this learning disability, I successfully graduated from two colleges, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and C.W. Post.

I have had a number of accomplishments over the years through my charitable work - the most recent being in 2011 as the founder of The Spirit of Huntington Art Center. The center is a not-for-profit group of artists that work with special needs children through art therapy and creative expression of art. Through my efforts, the Spirit of Huntington conducts an after school program with the South Huntington public school district. I am currently implementing a new program that will help students create portfolios, which will in turn help them find internships and jobs in their futures.

My goal is to be an inspiration to all people with disabilities. I have attracted artists and sculptors from around the country who volunteer at the Art Center and have begun to teach classes to the students.

On October 2, 2014, I was honored at Labor Press’s Third Annual Heroes of Labor Awards Reception where I was recognized for my work serving my community.  

I have received many town, county, state and Federal proclamations including a recent grant for The Spirit of Huntington through Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer.

This will allow me to pursue art therapy with veterans from the VA hospital in Northport, L.I. I was awarded the “Suffolk County Small Town Hero Award” from Legislator Jon Cooper for my work in the community with special needs individuals and veterans.

While I was at C.W. Post, I studied with Dr Henley, former department chairman and author of “Clay works and Art Therapy.” Dr. Henley featured my project of sculpture with troubled students in the South Bronx public schools. I also studied with Dr. Kerr who was also very influential in my art therapy career. Dr. Kerr is currently the department chair of Art Therapy at CW Post.

While at Post pursuing my master’s degree in clinical art therapy and counseling, I would like to begin an internship program at the Spirit of Huntington that would offer computer graphics and the study of studio art programs.

Gary Winnick

Class of 1969, LIU Post

In the late 1950s a popular television series called The Millionaire told the stories of people—average Americans from all walks of life—whose lives were altered suddenly by the gift of $1 million bestowed by a man named Michael Anthony, executive secretary of an anonymous benefactor named John Beresford Tipton Jr. Thousands of Americans tuned in each week to see how the lives of Tipton’s beneficiaries played out. One of those viewers was a Fresh Meadows, Queens resident named Gary Winnick (B.A. ’69), who was eight years old when The Millionaire began its five-year run. 

Like lots of youngsters watching television, Winnick often fantasized about being one of the characters. But it wasn’t Tipton, wealthy enough to give away a million dollars to a complete stranger every week. Nor was it the recipients of Tipton’s largesse. 

“I wanted to be Michael Anthony,” he recalled. “I wanted to be the guy who actually handed people the check.” 

In the summer of 1957, like thousands of post-war New Yorkers, Arnold and Blanche Winnick and their children—Gary Winnick, older brother Roy (’66), and Susan—migrated east for the American dream of home ownership on Long Island, settling in the historic Mackay Estate development of Roslyn, N.Y., Winnick spent the rest of his childhood in an area known as the “Gold Coast.” It’s where he got his driver’s license and his first job, graduated from high school and, while he was a student at LIU Post (then C.W. Post), experienced the most profound moment of his young adulthood.

For Winnick, the Gold Coast became a source of inspiration as he grew into adolescence. “I would drive around the area and look at the mansions and imagine the industrial titans who had lived here,” he said. “I thought about how those people came to America as immigrants and made something of themselves.” 
His father, Arnold Winnick, not an industrial titan, but he was a successful, self-made man. He owned a restaurant supply business, and he strove to pass along to his children some of the knowledge he’d gained building it. He wanted them to become resourceful and resilient. 

“When I became a teenager my father encouraged me to find work.” Winnick said, “If I asked him for something, he would suggest that I get a job and earn the money to pay for it. So, I started working at Howard Johnson’s on Northern Boulevard when I was 16 and I’ve worked ever since.”

The Winnicks encouraged their children to go to college near home. LIU was one of Arnold’s customers and he often extolled its virtues to his family. Roy Winnick was already attending LIU Post in 1965 when Gary Winnick enrolled as a business and economics major.

By then he had moved on from Howard Johnson's to a sales position at a nearby ski shop. Later he became assistant manager at a local golf club. “I took as many classes as possible early in the day, so that I’d be done by early afternoon and could go to my job,” said Winnick.

Winnick was earning good grades in school and liked his job, but in the spring of his freshman year, his dad passed away unexpectedly. He went to a regular card game with friends one evening and he didn’t come home. Gary Winnick was shaken.

“I woke up the next morning, got in my car and drove to C.W. Post,” he remembered. “I walked across campus in a daze. I had to tell my teachers I wouldn’t be there for a week. That was the most hollow period of my life.”

Out of it, however, grew a new connection to the university and a heightened sense of purpose. “Too many of us take our lives for granted,” Winnick said. “Too many accept life for whatever hand is dealt and don’t take responsibility for their own lives. After my father died I became very determined. I realized that if I wanted to be something in life, achieving that was going to be on my shoulders.”

The university became like another family for him, something he needed to fill the hole left by his father’s death. “Post was my grounding during a very difficult and formative period for me,” Winnick said. He joined Phi Sigma Delta fraternity and threw himself into his classes and his work with new intensity.

Melissa Rohr

Class of 2014, LIU Post

We won back to back NCAA D II Women's Lacrosse National Championships in 2012 and 2013 in Louisville, KY and Owings Mills, MD. Attached are our championship rings, one of the many things I will treasure forever from my time at LIU.

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Historic C.W. Post campus

Robert Damon

Class of 1980, LIU Post

Robert Damon knew nothing about electronic dance music (EDM) when SFX Entertainment, a leader in that industry, recruited him as senior vice president and chief accounting officer two years ago.

“Today, I could recite the top 20 or so deejays in the EDM world,” the 60-year-old boasted.

Damon and his wife frequently attend live events sponsored by SFX—and attended by fans half his age—across the United States, and around the world. In September, he’ll travel to Brazil for “Rock in Rio” and “Tomorrowland” in Sao Paolo. “If you’re going to work somewhere, you might as well enjoy the product,” he said.

Damon transferred to LIU Post in his junior year because of the School of Professional Accountancy’s stellar reputation and strong faculty, many of whom worked in the accounting profession and knew its rigors and challenges.

“What really was helpful was the guidance the professors offered on how to structure a career and what to look for first. Until I got that guidance I wasn’t sure what I should do,” Damon said. After graduating, Damon built a strong foundation for his career in public accounting at one of the Big Eight firms that dominated public accounting in the 1980s. He spent eight years at Ernst & Young, getting his first taste of the entertainment business with a client in the advertising and media industry. 

Throughout his professional life, Damon built an extensive network that has helped him advance and branch out in new directions. In 1991, as the public accounting firms were going through a wave of consolidation, he was recruited by one of his former clients at Ernst & Young to become the controller of Liberty Fabrics Inc. Four years later, he made his full-time move into the entertainment world when he was recruited by a former partner at Ernst & Young to become senior vice president and chief financial officer of Katz Entertainment, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications. The company had just gone through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and needed someone who could help them upgrade their accounting systems and processes, said Damon.

By 2012, Katz was restructuring and Damon began reassessing how to move forward in his career. “Fortunately, I had broad-based experience that helped me to find a position through networking and contacts,” Damon said.

Enter SFX, a startup in the electronic dance music world. Damon helped the business grow through acquisitions and raised money through IPOs and bond offerings. He has watched the company become, in a short span of time, the largest producer of live EDM entertainment and festivals in the world as well the owner of Beatport, the biggest digital download business for EDM.

While it doesn’t hurt that Damon gets to work at a place that feels a bit like a party every day—dance music playing in the lobby of the Manhattan-based company, no more ties—the thing he enjoys most about his job is the challenge of building an international business from the ground up. “The speed at which we move and grow is unlike any place I have ever worked,” said Damon. SFX has grown from $25 million in revenue in 2012 to $355 million in revenue in 2014, mostly from acquisitions and some organic growth. “As a result of the complexity of our transactions we have had to deal with some very challenging technical accounting and tax matters.”

Damon also pointed to the financial aspects of producing large-scale EDM events as one of the most interesting parts of his job. “The amount of planning, design and production that goes into one of our multi day festivals is staggering. As you would imagine it takes quite an amount of financial support from budgeting, ticket sales, transaction processing, and day of event support.” But, he said, it’s rewarding to see it all come together and watch 50,000 people enjoy a great event. “It is very exciting and very fast paced. It keeps you going.”

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Aimee Capps

Class of 2013, LIU Post

Being a member of the LIU Post Women’s Lacrosse team has given me so many memories. Particularly those moments that occurred on the road to winning the national championship in 2013. Our first roadblock was against local rival Adelphi. It came down to the last two minutes and we were down by one goal. The whole team was tired, but we fought together to win 7-6 in overtime. Our competitor in the finals didn’t even stand a chance, and by the time the fireworks went off on the field, we had taken that game 10-7. Perhaps we won that national championship because of our skill and talent, but I truly believe the real reason we had that perfect season was because we came together as a family.

Peter Gibson

Class of 1982, LIU Post

Born and raised in Rockville Center, Peter Gibson P’82 was a kinetic kid, rangy and tough, with a winning spirit and the sort of game sense that made him a quick study and an effective leader on the court or field. At Oceanside High School, if it involved a ball, Gibson was good at it. He loved baseball and basketball, but his strong suit was football. A standout quarterback, he was “All County” as a junior and “All Long Island” a year later. His performance earned him a scholarship to Boston College.

But his destiny did not lie in New England, or in sports. As a freshman, his athletic dreams were cruelly tested upon the rocks of a winless season. “It’s a hard memory,” he said, with the reflective tone of a man who values the pragmatic world view that emerged from that blunt reality check.

When he returned to Long Island at the end of his sophomore year, Gibson was resigned that his chances of a professional sports career were thin. Accepting that fate, he redirected his focus into building the foundation for a career that would fulfill him for the rest of his life, similar to the way sports had in his early years.

New Field of Opportunities

At Long Island University’s C.W. Post campus, Gibson found that he could still make a difference on the gridiron. He started as a defensive back for the Pioneers during his junior and senior years. Then, looking for a new athletic challenge, he joined the lacrosse team in his senior year as a walk-on, having never before played 
the grueling sport. 

But it was in the classroom that his knowledge of sports helped to distinguish him, and set him upon the trajectory that would lead to a career he’d never imagined. “Post had a great computer science program,” Gibson said, adding, “especially considering that computers were still relatively new back then.”

The first successfully mass marketed personal computer, the Commodore PET, had been introduced, in fact, only two years before Gibson arrived at Post. It was followed, in short order, by the Apple and Tandy’s TRS-80 and, close behind them, a tidal wave of other devices, most of which were destined to fall by the wayside. It was, recalled Gibson, “a very fertile time in the industry.”

It was Professor Brian Glazer who enticed Gibson to try his hand at the nascent discipline of computer science. “Glazer was young and he was a very engaging teacher,” said Gibson. “His classes were challenging and interesting, because he used a lot of real world problems to teach programming.”

Years of successful participation in sports had instilled in Gibson the value of hard work and discipline. “Computer science demanded both,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy discipline to master, but I could see, right away, that if you worked hard and you were ambitious there were lots of opportunities.” And, according to Gibson there will be many more in the years to come. “I would still recommend computer science as a major to any student. There is as much innovation going on in the industry as there ever has been.”

Post Admissions

With nearly 100 undergraduate degree programs to choose from, you will find a course of study that is perfect for you.

Alumni House at C.W. Post, 1969

Historic C.W. Post campus, 1981

Sarabeth Levine

Class of 1964, LIU Post

You can thank Sarabeth Levine (B.A. ’64, H ’14) for New York City brunch culture. For 33 years she has been the heart, soul, and namesake of Sarabeth’s, the international gourmet food brand. But she rose to trendy, one-name status and worldwide success based on extraordinary vision, self-belief, boundless courage, and commitment to delivering perfection in a jar—specifically, her legendary orange-apricot marmalade.

Recipient of LIU’s Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the 2014 Commencement, Sarabeth has also captured some of the most coveted awards in the culinary universe, including the prestigious James Beard Pastry Chef of the Year, and authored a celebrated cookbook. But she traces her star status in the food industry back to familial ties.  

More than 40 years ago, as a young, single mother supporting two daughters and holding a mixed bag of jobs from nursery school teacher to bathing suit designer, Sarabeth turned to her late mother, Doree Blume, a former model and successful fur business owner. She would complain, “Am I ever going to be anybody?” Her mother, she remembered, would come back at her with “I don’t have ‘nobodies.’ You have to find who your own ‘somebody’ is.” 

All along, she was the keeper of a secret 200 year-old treasured family recipe for an orange-apricot marmalade from her French grand-merè. When Bill Levine—a contractor and businessman working on a new café in need of a signature item—came into Sarabeth’s life, her marmalade, concocted in their tiny New York City apartment kitchen, was the ticket on which this creative pair would start their journey.

“Bill and marmalade changed my life,” Sarabeth said. With him, she became ‘somebody,’ and more than 3 decades later, the self-taught culinary superstar, with her husband and business partner of 31 years, boasts an international brand with 10 stateside restaurants located in New York City, Long Island, and Key West, Fla. In Japan, there are three Sarabeth’s with another set to open in Osaka in April 2015.  

Read more in the new issue of LIU Magazine!

See more Notable Alumni. 

The Original Library at C.W. Post, 1963

David Antin

Class of 1997, LIU Post

Accounting wasn’t the obvious path for David Antin. “I wanted to be a lawyer,” he said. But after an affecting conversation with a successful older cousin, he realized that accounting was a good foundation for law school or whatever he might choose to do in the business world later on.

With this new perspective, Antin went from a full academic scholarship to earning his bachelor’s degree from the School of Professional Accountancy, a foundation that led him from an entry-level public accountant to chief executive officer of the  publishing division of Institutional Investor, a leading international financial business media company. 

Antin got his first taste of the media business as an intern at a telecom company doing payroll and other functions. As graduation approached, he decided to take a break before committing to law school. “I did enjoy the accounting work, and I wanted to give it a try,” he said.

As it turned out, Antin never found the need to go to law school. Before graduation he had offers from several major accounting firms. He accepted a position at Arthur Anderson, where he worked in public accounting for several years. He moved on to a role as vice president of finance and operations at Argent Trading Company, a private equity-backed international trading firm. “I’m an entrepreneurial spirit. I enjoyed the business aspects more than accounting,” he says. 

In 2002, Antin joined Institutional Investor as director of finance and operations. He learned the ins and outs of the publishing business at the company, owner of the eponymous flagship financial magazine and other business titles, as well as a conference business. Over the next decade, Antin leveraged his accounting and business background, taking on management roles within the organization, starting with smaller projects and moving on to progressively larger ventures.

Antin became Institutional Investor’s chief executive officer, a position that requires a wide range of business and leadership skills. “You don’t have to be an accountant, to be a CEO, but it definitely helps,” Antin said. “Being able to read and understand financial statements really helps you make informed decisions about where to apply your capital in the business.” Antin said.

The publishing industry is both exciting and challenging, Antin said. “Technology has drastically changed the publishing industry in many ways. For us, it’s about our competitive advantages and our reach in the industry, using our brand and our know-how.”

Antin remains active in the LIU Post alumni network, and is impressed by the great achievements of his fellow School of Professional Accountancy alumni and their commitment to giving back to the school. He serves on the alumni Board of Directors and the Board of Advisors for the College of Management. He also serves on the selection committee for a new dean for the College of Management at LIU Post.

Jumping the hurdles at C.W. Post, circa 1984

Women's Lacrosse Team

Renowned Division II Athletics. Go Pioneer Nation!

Mary Lai

Class of 1942, LIU Post

In 2003, after 58 years of service to Long Island University, Mary Maneri Lai (B.S. ’42) stepped down from her post as chief financial officer. Eleven years later, at 93, Mrs. Lai comes to her office every day, dressed in a classy suit and accessorized with pearls and a wide smile, and continues to be a guiding voice and inspiration in the LIU community. Throughout her career, Mrs. Lai was a groundbreaking visionary for both the university and women in the workforce. She was the first female CFO of a university, having worked with 10 presidents across six decades. Without Mrs. Lai, the university most certainly would not be where it is today. It was she who signed the check that led to acquisition of LIU’s Brookville campus. She negotiated the contracts for every building on the Brooklyn, Post, and Southampton campuses, and facilities at all of the commuter campuses. Dr. David J. Steinberg, president of LIU from 1985 to 2013, called her Mater Universitatis, the mother of the university.

Q: Looking back at your life and long career, what are the most important lessons you have learned?

My faith was the most important thing to me. If you have faith, and God is alongside you, within you, every decision you make you feel comfortable, you know you can work well.

Also, feel good about your work and take pride in it. That’s what kept me here all these years. When I graduated from college I originally wanted to teach business subjects, but there were no jobs at the time. But there were openings in public accounting for women because the men were all going into service. I was hired by a mid-sized accounting firm. Then I got married, and my husband (William T. “Buck” Lai '41) was in the Naval Air Corps and I worked different jobs on the bases where he was stationed. When we came back I ran into a professor from Long Island University on the subway. The next day President Metcalfe called and asked me to help get the university’s finances in order. I told him I wasn’t interested, but I said I would do it for one year and then I would return to public accounting and become a CPA.

Well, in that one year enrollment went from 800 to 5,000, we put the deposit on the Post Estate, which became the C.W. Post campus. I worked so much my mother used to say, ‘Why do you bother coming home? Why don’t you take a cot and sleep there?’ So when the year was up, I had put so much of myself into it that I couldn’t give it up. And in the meantime, the president offered my husband a job here, as a way of keeping me [laughs]. And so the dye was set, we were both at the university and we both began to love it.

Q: You shattered the glass ceiling long before “leaning in” was part of the dialog about women getting ahead in the workforce. How did you balance work with your family?

The idea of a woman working after she had children was unheard of. I always used to say ‘My husband allowed me to work.’ You have to remember men felt very intimidated if women worked. But my husband didn’t feel that way. He was an athlete, a real man. He thought it was great that I worked. I thought I would quit when my son was born. But I had created every piece of paper, every system, not just for budget but also the registrar and admissions; Finance was like the heart of the university, everything had to come through us. I worked up until the night before I had my first child. I had no plan of what I was going to do, but I had faith. I prayed, ‘If it’s wrong for me to work, put obstacles in my path; if it’s right, remove them.’

A few weeks later my mother called and said she knew a woman from the store [the Maneri family owned a grocery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn] who would be a perfect babysitter. So she came to our house every day. I still thought when the baby got a little older I would quit. But it worked out so well I didn’t have to. I had no obstacles. I knew it was unusual, but I was doing what I loved to do. And I was still able to do a lot of things for the boys that many women who stay home didn’t do.

So, I don’t think I shattered the glass ceiling, it just happened. I was lucky to have help. I was using a third of my salary to pay for it, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to do what I love to do.

Early Men's Lacrosse Team

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