A recent forum at the Harmonie Club in New York marked "the coming of age" for the society, says J. Richard Aronson, professor and director of the Martindale Center. The panel discussion, entitled "Investing for the Future," was conceived and organized entirely by Lehigh graduates.
The Sept. 19 event drew nearly 100 alumni, some from as far away as Washington, D.C. It was planned by the society, an association of alumni who were involved in the College of Business and Economics’ Martindale Program, with help from the university’s development office and other New York alumni, including the newly formed Lehigh Wall Street Council.
"The Lehigh presence on Wall Street is very strong," says Mike Conner ’80, who represented the council at the event. "It is our goal to create a Lehigh community network for people employed in the financial services. We hope to continue to enhance the image, name and visibility of Lehigh on Wall Street and to provide ready resources for faculty and students."
The evening’s distinguished panelists reflected the way in which the Lehigh community can benefit from the knowledge of experts in the New York financial district. Speakers for the forum included Larry Kantor, managing director and global head of foreign exchange strategy at JP Morgan in New York, and a former Lehigh professor; Douglas Lane ’67, president of Douglas C. Lane and Associates; and Kevin Parke ’81, executive vice president/chief investment officer of MFS Investment Management and a former Martindale student.
In his opening remarks, William Pertusi ‘83, president of the Martindale Society, said the association organized the event in hopes of developing a stronger connection between alumni working in the New York area and the university. The discussion provided a realistic and optimistic view on the state of the markets and the economy.
Each year, the Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise selects 12 students from all three of Lehigh’s undergraduate colleges through an application and interview process. The chosen group travels abroad, (recent destinations have included Italy, Hong Kong and Ireland), and is provided with opportunities to interact with influential individuals involved in the business, political and social climate of the region.
Upon their return, students continue to research relevant topics and prepare an article for publication in the Martindale Center journal, Perspectives on Business and Economics.
"The interdisciplinary nature of the Martindale Center creates a pertinent environment with the potential to involve alumni from all areas of the university," says Sarat Sethi ’92, who helped organize the event.
Sethi adds that the society hopes to sponsor similar events on an ongoing basis and that all alumni and friends of the university are welcome to attend.
Timothy Doherty ’01, a former Martindale student associate, agrees with the effort to enhance relations between alumni and the school. "What better organization to spearhead such an effort than the Martindale Society?" Doherty says. "The Martindale Center is, after all, the primary think-tank at the university that is concerned with business and economics, so it seems rather appropriate that it should prove to be the instigating force behind such an effort."
The responses of those attending the event were overwhelmingly positive.
"The Martindale Society's panel discussion was more than an occasion to share views on investing," says David Bellows ’98, a former Martindale student associate. "It was an exciting opportunity for members of the Martindale and Lehigh families to engage in a practical and informative discussion about the economic climate and its impact on financial trends. I enjoyed hearing the perspective of both younger and experienced investors, and am eagerly anticipating further events."
Through the New York forum, the members of the Martindale Society have established a new model by which alumni can use Lehigh networking to organize academic forums.