Crane has more than 30 years of experience in commercialization and business operations, primarily in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. She is a venture partner at Apple Tree Partners and head of commercialization for Apple Tree Pharmaceuticals. She previously served on the board from 2005 to 2012, is a former member of the School of Business Advisory Board and has participated in the Alumni-in-Residence program.
While studying communication at Oswego, Crane worked for The Oswegonian and was a Resident Assistant. She enjoys being involved at her alma mater and most recently returned to campus in April 2013 as the keynote speaker for the Honors Convocation. Crane is a staunch advocate for STEM education and has supported STEM career development through the Possibility Scholarship program together with her late husband Doug Crane ’80.
Doran has been actively involved at Oswego for many years, serving on the Alumni Association Board of Directors as an officer and as the Alumni Association representative to the Oswego College Foundation Investment Committee and the Reunion Task Force in 2007-08.
He is also involved in the AIR and ASK programs and is an active participant with the School of Business Symposium.
As a student at Oswego, Doran studied business administration, was the men’s lacrosse captain in 1982, and participated in the alumni/mentor program.
Doran frequents Oswego alumni events in New York City, where he has been professionally located throughout his career.
With more than 25 years experience in investment relations, she is also a member of several professional organizations, including the Association of Investment Management Sales Executives and 100 Women in Hedge Funds. Most recently, Mochrie was the 2013 chapter inductee of Beta Gamma Sigma, the premier international honor society of AACSB accredited business programs.
Mochrie studied applied mathematics and economics as a student at Oswego and worked in the Continuing Education office. Through the New York City Career Connections program, she recently hosted SUNY Oswego business students.
Together with her husband, Chris Tuohy ’81, she maintains close ties with many Oswego alumni friends.
—Kaitlin Provost ’12
A shrewd investment in his industrial arts education has paid hefty dividends in his manufacturing career.
Just to be clear: George Wurtz III ’78, president and CEO of Soundview Paper Co. LLC, fully intended to teach industrial arts after graduating from Oswego. Hardwired with his grandfather’s love of woodworking and machinery, Wurtz had graduated from a premier high-school industrial arts program. He had turned down offers to play football for Penn State and Army in order to enroll at Oswego. He had worked grueling summer construction jobs to pay his tuition in cash.
In 1978, industrial arts education degree in hand, Wurtz was ready to roll. He was weighing job offers from two school districts when Miller Brewing in Fulton offered him an inventory control job at twice the salary. Wurtz made a decisive course correction and followed the money—and a hunch that manufacturing might be an even better fit.
A Home Run?
While student teaching in Valley Stream, Wurtz sensed a red flag. His trailblazing lesson plan required students to design a product, then form a company to build and sell it. “The students loved it. They asked for extra lab time,” Wurtz remembers. “It looked like a home run.”
The school’s administrators made a different call: “You’re not a business teacher,” they scolded Wurtz. “You’re an industrial arts teacher.”
Fortunately, the manufacturing industry embraced such ingenuity. Wurtz shakes his head when he remembers his first meeting with Miller Brewing. “The interview date changed at the last minute. I had planned to get a haircut and wear a suit. Instead I had to go straight from the Industrial Arts lab, looking like Jeremiah Johnson with my long hair and overalls.”
“This was after the Vietnam War, and there was a shortage of engineers,” explains Wurtz.
“Industry was recruiting from ‘tech programs,’ and Oswego had one of the best in the country.
“An industrial arts degree looked a lot like a degree in mechanical engineering, with hands-on math, chemistry and physics labs,” he reports. “A number of my classmates went into industry instead of the classroom.”
The Scenic Route
Thirty-five years—and 17 address changes—later, it’s tough to imagine the larger-than-life Wurtz on any other trajectory. He spent almost a decade with Phillip Morris, the parent company of Miller Brewing. “It was like earning a Ph.D. in executive management,” he says. “I worked under industry icons. My ears were as big as Dumbo’s, taking it all in.”
In 1987, Wurtz was recruited into towel and tissue manufacturing, a subset of forest products, the nation’s third largest industry. He spent the next 15 years helping to build Fort James, home to such household brands as Brawny and Dixie Cups. When Georgia Pacific bought Fort James for $7.5 billion, Wurtz helped guide the merger then joined the new company in Atlanta, Ga.
Within a few years, Wurtz was second in command at Georgia Pacific. As executive vice president of pulp and paper, he was responsible for seven companies, 10,000 employees, and $6 billion in annual sales.
“I learned a lot working at the decision-making level of giant companies,” he says. “I discovered I loved mergers and acquisitions. But I always dreamed of walking away and creating smaller, leaner, more nimble companies, managed by hands-on investors who were also seasoned practitioners.”
The opportunity to lead his dream company came last year, when Wurtz, with equity investment firm Atlas Holdings, purchased Marcal Paper Co., a storied New Jersey towel and tissue company on the brink of closure.
In 2006, Wurtz—by then an industry icon—stepped away from corporate life when Koch Industries acquired Georgia Pacific. After decades in the fast lane, he hoped to spend more time with his wife, Nancy. “‘Miss Nancy,’ as they say in Atlanta, is my true love,” Wurtz says, “along with my daughter, Jacqueline, who has three wonderful boys under 4, and my son, George IV, who carries on the towel-and-tissue tradition.”
Wurtz also looked forward to stretches of time in his woodworking shop and aboard his 60-foot fishing boat. “My ideal day involves hooking a 1,000-pound tuna,” he explains. “But when that didn’t happen every day, I grew restless.”
High-energy Wurtz went back to work as CEO of WinCup in Stone Mountain, Ga., a massive but troubled supplier of foam cups, straws and other food service disposables. “I’d never
been associated with a company in bankruptcy,” he reports, “and I discovered I love fixing broken stuff.”
Wurtz was trolling for other stressed companies when Marcal Paper in Elmwood, N.J., caught his eye. “A product like toilet tissue isn’t going away,” he believes. “You can’t (digitalize or) cloud it. And China can’t compete in our market, because it’s not profitable to ship.”
The Lure of Marcal
When Wurtz and Atlas Holdings purchased Marcal in 2012, the floundering company had nearly lost sight of its proud history. Marcal was founded in 1928 by a resourceful Sicilian immigrant, Nicolas Marcalus, whose 17 patents include the jagged metal edge used to cut waxed paper and the first automatic toilet tissue winder.
Marcal, which pioneered the use of recycled paper to make towels and tissue, flourished for 70 years. In 2001, the family-run business borrowed $125 million for a new paper machine—a wise investment, it seemed, until 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina knocked the wind out of the economy. A few years later, the bank called in the Marcal loan.
In 2007, on the brink of bankruptcy, the family sold to venture capitalists, who planned to take the regional company national. “Going national wasn’t the answer,” according to Wurtz. “Thirty-eight percent of the domestic towel and tissue market lies within 500 miles of the Marcal plant.”
“The company had a lot of pride but lost its way,” Wurtz believes. “By the time we took over, its workforce was emotionally decimated.
“We had to let 100 people go, but we saved 500 jobs,” he reports. “Those workers are this company’s greatest asset. Many are immigrants from Eastern Europe. The typical employee has been here for 18 years and most likely has a father, brother or sister who works here.”
The outgoing, straight-shooting Wurtz now spends much of his time mingling with Marcal employees. On his daily walkabouts, he covers an average of 3.5 miles and greets almost every employee by name. “These workers have done nothing but work hard for Marcal, even as many lost their pensions,” says Wurtz. “I love ’em to death.”
From the Nest
Part of this allegiance dates back to Wurtz’s down-to-earth Long Island childhood. He and four siblings (including Kevin ’79 and Thomas ’92) were instilled with a strong work ethic. Each child was allowed to play one sport and expected to hold a job during its off-seasons. (Wurtz worked on a commercial fishing boat).
“My father was a union worker for the public utility company,” Wurtz says. “He’s always reminded me that ‘Joe Hourly’ will make or break you. Success doesn’t happen in the executive suite.
“Football also taught me that you’re only as good as the guys behind you,” he adds. “From my corporate years, I learned that, if you’re not making it or selling it, you are overhead.”
On a recent tour of the one-square-mile Marcal campus, Wurtz was walking the talk. At one point, the strolling CEO and a recycling truck approached the same intersection. Wurtz gave the driver a friendly salute. The driver stopped, smiled, and gestured for his boss to go ahead.
“No, you go ahead,” Wurtz chuckled. “I’m paying you.”
On a Roll
Since Soundview took charge, the Marcal plant has operated three shifts a day, seven days a week. Volume has increased by 22 percent. Equity investors have earned 44 percent dividends. Employees recently received their first gain-sharing checks. In December, Soundview purchased a second paper plant, Pultney Paper in Vermont.
The Soundview company carries no debt. Fifty percent of profits are invested in operations. “We pay it forward,” Wurtz explains. “When we buy a stressed company, our goal is not to buy, fix, and sell. Our goal is to buy, get it going, and keep it going.
“We came into Marcal making huge promises,” Wurtz reflects. “Now we’re delivering on these promises—and regaining a lot of trust.
“Saving jobs is at the heart of our work,” he says. “For decades, our country’s manufacturing base and its middle class have been eroding. But the American spirit is still alive. You see it when we pull together after events like 9-11, Hurricane Sandy, and the Boston Marathon bombing.
“Americans are very productive people,” says Wurtz. “I believe we have a strong shot at reviving manufacturing.”
A strong shot indeed, if that revival is fueled by towel-and-tissue titan George Wurtz ’78, with his boots-on-the-ground leadership style, wide-angle view, and ever-versatile Oswego degree in industrial arts education.
Long-Range Lesson Plan:
Unbeknownst to George Wurtz III ’78, Oswego was preparing him to embrace the unexpected.
George Wurtz never used his Oswego degree in the classroom, but it’s been a priceless asset in his corporate career. “Industrial arts is the perfect training ground for manufacturing,” he says. “Everything I learned in industrial arts education applies to running a company. They taught us to be good managers without calling it management.
“We learned to create lesson plans, which are essentially business plans. We learned to establish objectives, to control costs, and to measure progress. We learned that good leadership is about good teaching—emphasizing what’s going well and teaching what could be even better.”
To acknowledge Oswego, George serves on its Engineering Advisory Board, shares executive suite insights on sharpening Oswego’s competitive edge and has established an Engineering Excellence Fund. And as a featured guest in the Alumni-in-Residence Program, he likes to underscore the enduring importance of Oswego relationships. “In college, you grow socially as well as academically. My best friends are still my college friends,” he reports.
Those college friendships may evolve into professional relationships.
Wurtz and Ron Schulman ’77, who crossed paths early in their manufacturing careers, recently reconnected through LinkedIn. “One thing led to another,” says Wurtz, “and Ron is now our comptroller at Soundview.”
Speaking of the unexpected: rugby represents another surprise turn in Wurtz’s life. In 1974, the 6-foot-3-inch middle linebacker arrived at Oswego ready to play football, only to learn the program had been cut. The skeptical freshman, who had been recruited by Penn State and Army, reluctantly joined Oswego’s rugby team. Almost 40 years later, Wurtz—a master of corporate mergers —still considers this his favorite.
“The rugby players taught us how to laugh, and we taught them how to tackle. After the game, you sing songs and drink beer with your opponents,” he says. “My rugby friends remain my closest friends. Many still play every summer in the CanAm Rugby Tournament.”
When Kevin Gilman ’74, the coach/catalyst of this spirited group, passed away in 2009, the rugby bond grew even stronger. Wurtz spearheaded the establishment of an endowed memorial scholarship and rugby fund to honor his friend.
“There is such cool camaraderie in rugby: part fraternity, part family,” says Wurtz. “I’ve learned it’s the greatest game ever played.”
We’ll always wonder why. But, for Matthew Sturdevant ’97 the story of Newtown, Conn., is about how. How will the community repair itself?
Sturdevant, a journalist who has essentially been embedded since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary,
is telling that story.
“My task has always been to follow the people,” says Sturdevant who, along with other members of the staff of the Hartford Courant, is a runner up for the Pulitzer Prize.
By following and by listening, Sturdevant has uncovered touching stories behind tattoos, a very special animal sanctuary and other tributes to people lost in the infamous shooting Dec. 14. They are now a part of Sturdevant’s own story, the unlikely tale of a psychology and business major who almost became a potato farmer.
Sturdevant struggled academically and financially at Oswego, working toward two degrees while pulling endless shifts in the dining hall. A roommate—a communication studies major—planted the seed of journalism, and Matthew discovered his gift for storytelling post-grad as he sampled various jobs and traveled the east coast.
A lover of the outdoors, Sturdevant spent five summers as a guide at a Boy Scouts of America High Adventure base in Maine during and after college. He returned to the city of Oswego for a time as a therapy aide in the mental health wing of Oswego Hospital.
“No question, working with people at such an acutely sensitive time in their lives helped me in journalism,” he says, a fact born out when the Pulitzer committee commended the Hartford Courant staff for its sensitivity in handling coverage in Newtown.
While living in northern Maine, Sturdevant applied for a job at a weekly in rural Caribou, where he, with help from textbooks provided by his editor, essentially taught himself the skills of journalism.
“If it hadn’t worked out being a reporter those few days, I would have been harvesting potatoes,” Sturdevant recalls.
But, it did work out. And Sturdevant developed a talent for digging deep for stories. He initiated a “Not Forgotten” series at the Glens Falls Post Star that became almost a tutorial in how to handle sensitive topics. Each week, he would choose sparse obituaries, call the relatives for information, and craft proper tributes to the deceased.
Since arriving nearly four years ago at the Hartford Courant after stints at the Caller-Times in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., Sturdevant has again employed his Oswego experience as a business reporter and blogger.
But, when not covering health care, insurance and business, he’s often called to journalism’s front line of breaking news, the Boston Marathon bombing and Superstorm Sandy among them.
His most difficult assignment to date, though, he’s still working on: the stories of all the survivors, those children with lifetimes left to live.
“Once the basics of the story have been told, it’s really the story of how this town is coping,” he says. “The rest of the world may have moved on, but in Connecticut, especially in Newtown, they’ll be talking about this for decades.”
—Shane M. Liebler
As plans solidified to bring repertory actor Carl Whidden ’75 to campus Dec. 6 to perform his one-actor version of Charles Dickens’s beloved classic, “A Christmas Carol,” 40-year-old memories began to surface and circulate among Oswego alumni and the ARTSwego staff. People remembered a cast of 158, including 130 local children, who had staged an original version of the story in 1973, when Whidden starred in the exacting role of Ebenezer Scrooge.
“Almost daily, we were finding connections with alumni and local residents who were involved in that memorable production,” John Shaffer, director of arts programming for ARTSwego, says. “Legendary Professor Rosemary Nesbitt wrote and directed. It was a presentation of the Children’s Theatre of Oswego and Blackfriars, and it had a lasting impact.”
Whidden’s two-act adaptation calls for him to portray 32 discrete characters, each of which has a unique personality and different accent. “I’ve had to do a lot of homework. It’s challenging to switch characters quickly, get the accents accurate, and always—above all—be faithful to Dickens in my portrayal.
There is one particular character that Whidden finds challenging to portray, but he refuses to name it. If I disclose it, then I’ll be self-conscious when I am in front of an audience,” he explains. Rather, the veteran of stage, television and screen says, “I value the great privilege of working in ‘A Christmas Carol,’ where every character is a delight to know.”
Returning to Oswego, Whidden will refresh his memories of what he calls “Rosemary’s most wonderful adaptation and execution;” he will conduct master classes in the theatre department, and he will connect with long-time friends, like Professor Mark Cole ’73, with whom he has maintained a 42-year friendship.
This national tour, with an Oswego performance brings Whidden full circle and puts him once again in touch with a story he loves. “Imagine my excitement every time I perform. Every character in this story remains vital in our imaginations. The story, and the personalities are timeless, and it makes me feel ageless. After all, I’m 60, and I get to play Tiny Tim.”
Landing a job in Los Angeles after graduation, Michelle Rene Garcia ’06 continues to work for a cause she values. At The Advocate, a gay rights magazine, she began as a temporary hire and advanced to commentary editor.
“We’re on the front line of history,” she says. “In the seven years I’ve been here, I’ve witnessed a massive sea change in the way Americans view gay rights.” She notes the milestones of justice: a president who supports the freedom to marry and still gets re-elected; positive representations in the media, a dozen states legalizing marriage equality, and LGBT people, including celebrities and athletes, coming out to their families, friends and coworkers.
“Equality isn’t just an issue of the gay agenda or some lobbying group, a faceless ‘they.’ Now, it’s about someone’s son, or sister or best friend. It’s personal, and people are remembering that personal is political again.”
After graduation, Garcia, who was active on the Oswegonian and worked as a resident assistant, and her husband, Adam Campbell-Schmitt ’06, headed to L. A., where Adam, a broadcast major, works as a stage director and comedy writer.
“We met at Oswego, doing improv. ‘Cause that’s what the cool kids do.”
Garcia, who majored in Journalism with minors in Political Science and Women’s Studies, says all her interests, education and experience have come together in her career and in the screenwriting she’s doing on the side.
“Thirty years from now, I can look back at this time and say: I was there. I was part of history.”
—Linda Loomis ’90 M ’97
AS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER FOR PYRAMID Management Group, one of the largest and most innovative real estate developers in the Northeast, Robert Utter ’93 possesses a precise and comprehensive understanding of the factors that lead to success and fulfillment, whether for an individual, a company, or a country. He sees SUNY Oswego as poised to make a fundamental difference in the future of its graduates, as well as for the nation and the world, and that’s why he has made a leadership gift to Oswego.
“What makes this country great is the opportunity available to all of us,” says Utter, a steadfast supporter of The Fund for Oswego who invites his fellow alumni to follow his example in providing the financial support that will make that opportunity possible. “But now more than ever, in retaining our status in the international market, we have to stay competitive. We have to help motivate and support the entrepreneurial spirit in our talented and highly skilled young people.”
That all starts with a great education, Utter affirms, like the one he gained as an accounting major in Oswego’s School of Business and continued to build on as a young professional. “We all need to ensure that kind of quality education continues to grow and flourish,” says Utter, pointing to the valuable opportunities for practical application along with the diversity and professionalism of the faculty as highlights of his Oswego education. “With today’s economic pressures, and the escalating costs of private education, the value of a public education is more compelling than ever. Let’s do what we can to make it the best that we can.”
You might say Miles B. Borden ’50 is on the right track. Some 63 years after setting Oswego State records for speed, Miles is still putting on miles.
As a member of the Laker track team, Miles crossed the finish line in the record-breaking mile-long relay race at Cortland State in May 1949. The invitational track meet brought together college track teams from Hamilton College, Hartwick, Brockport, Rochester, Cortland and Oswego.
Miles continues to run five days a week with his wife, Leona. Miles and Leona have been cross-country skiing for about 40 years and often head north instead of south for the winter. When he’s not on the road, track or trails, Miles enjoys studying local history with middle school and high school students.
Miles has written five local history books, his latest being The History of Kings Park.
He was president of the Kings Park Fire Department for six years and chaired the committee which established the department’s ambulance squad. Miles has since retired after serving as a volunteer trustee of the Smithsonian Library Board of Trustees for 20 years.
At Oswego, Miles was the student body president for the 1949-50 academic year and a member of Beta Tau Epsilon.
GARY FULLER ’64 LIKES TO say that geography is the glue that ties the world (and several academic disciplines) together. He should know – he wrote the book on it!
The Trivia Lover’s Guide to the World: Geography for the Lost and Found is derived from an Oswego legacy of geography. In fact, Oswego itself is featured in the last chapter.
After graduating from Oswego, Gary went on to earn his doctorate in geography from Penn State. He retired after 34 years as professor of geography and population studies at the University of Hawaii, where he taught more than 10,000 undergraduates and supervised 13 doctoral dissertations and 44 master’s theses. (His first doctoral candidate, Larry Travers, became a faculty member at Oswego).
He was senior class president in 1964, and in 1994, Gary was awarded the Anniversary Class Award of Merit from the Oswego Alumni Association.
Gary’s wife, Barbara Bruton Fuller ’64, retired from the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility school, after almost 30 years, where she was a teacher and then the teacher-in-charge. They have lived in Hawaii since 1970.
“The education, history and geography courses I took at Oswego were the impetus for my life as an educator and now as an author,” wrote Gary, who names as his influences Oswego geography legends Judy Johnsrud and the late Professor Emeritus Girgis Ghobrial.
In retirement, Gary lectures on cruise ships all over the world, talking about world affairs, tying in geography, history and the cultures of the places the tours visit, as well as the current events occurring there.
“Oswego certainly formed the basis for the lives in education — writing and disseminating information— that we’ve led and now lead,” Gary wrote.
“Our lives were definitely shaped by our four years at Oswego. They have been very fruitful and hopefully, have impacted many of the students we’ve taught, as well as our own four children, in positive ways.”
Each week, La Rae M. Martin-Coore ’99 is used to getting a few glances when she cruises the grocery aisles with her husband, son and three carts in tow.
They’re shopping for their extended family, the six New York City teens who live with them in Manlius.
The girls are enrolled in the A Better Chance, or ABC, program at Fayetteville-Manlius High School. The nationwide initiative brings bright inner city youth to high-achieving school districts to give them a different perspective while preparing for college and career.
ABC, one of two in the state, has been a part of the community for nearly 40 years. Martin-Coore took over as resident director last fall and made quite a commitment. As part of the position, she and her family moved into the ABC house in Manlius.
“The way a family operates, that’s very much the way we operate,” Martin-Coore said.
She is a mentor, counselor and, in many respects, mother to these teens. On any given night, the house is buzzing with activity — the stairs creak with frequent commuters running up and down, cell phones vibrate with text message alerts and gatherings in the kitchen or at the dinner table fuel constant conversation.
“I have a passion for working with young people, young women in particular,” says Martin-Coore, who also works as the academic coordinator for Le Moyne College’s Higher Education Preparation/Upward Bound Program. As a high schooler at Nottingham in Syracuse, Martin-Coore was herself a participant at Le Moyne before heading to SUNY Morrisville and eventually to Oswego.
“I like to help students achieve with the same opportunities that I have had in my life,” says Martin-Coore, who at Oswego was very active in ALANA and the Black Student Union — the community service projects, in particular.
Helping Students Succeed
Like Upward Bound, ABC focuses on getting talented students ready for college. The teens must meet high academic standards to qualify.
“This is just another experience for the students to have,” Martin-Coore says. “You get to learn about people from all walks of life and get along with all different people.
“That’s the college experience … and colleges recognize that too,” she says. “It sets you apart.”
Even the youngest in the house, freshman Tanaja Stephenson of Brooklyn, has college plans. “I like that I’m being challenged more than I would at home,” she says over a plate of chicken riggies with her housemates.
Many in this group of six, like junior Sara Elzeini of the Bronx, have aspirations to enter the medical field.
“I think it might be hard for some kids to go away to school,” says Elzeini, vice president of her class at Fayetteville-Manlius and a part-time swim instructor at the YMCA. “I feel like it won’t be a shock to me to go to college.”
The teens split up household chores and handle their own, like laundry, says Martin-Coore, who lives in the home with her husband, Zaire M. Coore ’98, and son, Zaire J. Coore.
Students spend all four years of high school at their ABC destination.
“You get to connect with people you would otherwise never have met,” said sophomore Kesi Rivera of Harlem. “This program opens a lot of doors.”
Martin-Coore hopes to one day open her own leadership academy for young women of color.
“I’m showing them who they can possibly become,” she says. “I know when I do that, I’m going to be blessed.
“It’s about being happy.”
As BrieAnne Wilson ’10, M ’12 trudged upward, wind and cold gnawed at her face. It was only November, but the weather had surprised her and her friends with snow and temperatures that dipped below freezing.