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Alumni Stories

Alumni Stories
David Venghaus '88 Featured on "Undetoured" Podcast

David Venghaus Undetoured

David Venghaus '88, 1st Assistant Director, featured on Undetoured Podcast

Have you seen “Spider-Man: No Way Home” yet? SUNY Oneonta alumnus David Venghaus, Class of 1988, served as first assistant director for the film, as well as for “Jungle Cruise,” “A Quiet Place Part II,” two Pirates of the Caribbean films and a bevy of other blockbuster hits you've probably seen. In this interview, David talks about his 30-year career, giving credit to the “amazing professors” who guided him at Oneonta and the internships that helped build his resume. Check it out here.


Thursday, February 17, 2022 9:22:00 AM

James Zachos '81 elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

James Zachos '81

James Zachos '81 receives a very high honor

James C. Zachos ’81, is a paleoclimatologist and professor of geology, researching to reconstruct Earth’s climate history. He has been widely published, and speaks at conferences around the world. In 2017, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Recently, Zachos has been elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) - a very high honor!


Thursday, February 17, 2022 9:11:00 AM

Alumni Profile: Scott '84 and Marcy '83 Salmirs

Scott Marcy Salmirs

Their Life Together Began With a Suitcase

When Scott ’84 and Marcy Salmirs ’83 celebrate their anniversary each year, it’s the anniversary of when they started dating at SUNY Oneonta, not their wedding. “We literally don’t celebrate our wedding anniversary,” Scott says with a laugh.

They met the first day of their freshman year, when Marcy’s father asked if he could pass her suitcase through Scott’s ground-floor window to move it into her room across the hall. As hall mates in Ford, they spent time together and became fast friends. “We were both pretty homesick, and we just hit it off,” Marcy says. On Oct. 25, 1980, they started dating. “And that was it.”

Both were business-economics majors. “Marcy and I were in a lot of the same classes,” Scott says, recalling one professor, David Ring, “who took something as esoteric as economics and turned it into practical, real-life applications.” His impact on the couple was so great that “when we learned 35 years after graduating that he had created an endowed scholarship (the George F. Ring Jr. and Ellen Smith Ring Scholarship) named for his parents, we made a five-year commitment to increase the principal of the scholarship.”

Scott was in the 3-2 program and continued his studies at Binghamton University, where he earned an MBA in finance. Marcy graduated a semester early, in December 1983, following a summer internship at an advertising agency that provided a semester’s worth of credit.

The couple got engaged a year later, married in 1986, and had two children.

Scott spent more than 20 years in corporate real estate, holding leadership positions and managing building portfolios for CBRE, Goldman Sachs, and Lehman Brothers. In 2003, he joined ABM Industries, a leading provider of facility solutions. After serving 12 years as executive vice president, he was named president and CEO in 2015.

Marcy worked for several years in advertising, marketing, and sales promotion.

“Whenever we return to campus — and we go up quite often — it feels like going home,” she says. “I think of Oneonta in a very warm, loving way. It was a wonderful environment — both academically and socially. And I met Scott there, which was the greatest thing that could possibly have happened to me.”

Two other family members are proud Red Dragons: Scott’s sister, Alison Salmirs Clinard ’92, a special education teacher on Long Island, and their nephew Justin Harris ’13, a sales consultant for Georgia-Pacific. “We have this family engagement with the College, and it’s so much fun,” Scott says.

That engagement takes many forms. In addition to providing “untold numbers of students” with internships and employing SUNY Oneonta alumni, Scott participates in Backpacks to Briefcases, is a member of the Business Advisory Council, and conducts résumé and interviewing workshops for students.

The Salmirs are members of the 1889 Society and have supported scholarships, the Student Emergency Fund, student trips to the Federal Reserve Challenge, and the Fund for Oneonta. “Where the school needs funding, we try to chip in whenever we can,” Scott says.

He is a 2016 Alumni of Distinction honoree and in 2019 received the Beta Gamma Sigma Business Achievement Award.

The Salmirs’ philanthropic endeavors are not limited to SUNY Oneonta. They are founders of Donate Eight, a nonprofit organization that galvanizes members of New York City’s real estate, building management, and building service community around the need for organ donations in New York state. Its annual fundraiser, in support of the LiveOnNY Foundation, is a spring gala that Marcy coordinates at Gotham Hall. (This year’s event, held virtually, featured six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald.) To date, Donate Eight has raised $7 million. In 2016, Scott received the United Hospital Fund’s Distinguished Community Service Award in recognition of his efforts.

Additionally, Scott serves on the board of the Outreach Project, a nonprofit that fights substance abuse among adolescents. And Marcy runs a program for the Mercy Center that delivers groceries to needy families in the South Bronx.

“When you have a strong sense of community, like the one we found at Oneonta, you recognize the importance of community and do everything you can to support it,” Marcy says.

Scott concurs. “For us, it’s all about experiences and community connections.”


Wednesday, February 2, 2022 3:52:00 PM

Daren Rylewicz '93 Named Chair of Fund For Oneonta

Daren Rylewicz

Daren Rylewicz '93 Named Chair of Fund For Oneonta

As a transfer student, I spent just three semesters on campus. The last semester, I had a full-time internship in Albany with the New York State Legislature. Feeling somewhat cheated, I’ve been trying to make up the deficit ever since.

For the past seven years, I have served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors. As chair of the Governance Committee, I helped the association rewrite its bylaws and review its policies. I then became vice president, president-elect, president, and immediate past president.

Now, I am delighted to serve as the first-ever alumni chair of the Fund for Oneonta, the College’s annual giving program. It’s a program I’ve supported for over 20 years.

Here’s why: Unrestricted gifts allow the College to allocate funds where they’re needed most. They enhance the student experience by providing flexible funding for scholarships, the expansion of academic programs and library resources, and the support of athletics and student groups.

The Fund also is the main source of revenue for the Alumni Association, making it possible for graduates to stay engaged with the College and supporting such events as Pass Through the Pillars and Alumni Weekend.

My work on the Alumni Association Board has given me a firsthand look at how critical these funds are and how every gift makes a difference.

After my time at Oneonta, albeit too short, I went on to earn a JD at Albany Law School of Union University and join the legal department of the Civil Service Employees Association, where I am now general counsel.

As a result, I feel a responsibility to do whatever I can to help today’s students realize their goals and dreams. I hope you do, too.

If you can, please join me in making a recurring gift to the Fund for Oneonta. It’s easy, and it allows you to spread your payments over 12 months.

As President Alberto Cardelle reminded us recently, “Alumni involvement and contributions are inextricably linked to the success of the College and, most importantly, our students.”

- Daren Rylewicz ’93


Wednesday, February 2, 2022 3:44:00 PM

Alumna Artist Teaches Students

Cythia Fusillo

Cynthia Fusillo '76 teaches students about respecting nature, using found and recycled materials

“Magic happened.” This is how acclaimed international visual artist Cynthia Fusillo ’76 describes her interactions with Oneonta students during her fall artist-in-residency. Fusillo was on campus for the month of September, speaking to classes, mentoring students one-on-one, and creating new art. An exhibition of her work, titled Leave Me With You!, overlapped her stay, running Aug. 30 to Oct. 25 in the Martin-Mullen Art Gallery.

Pieces for the show were constructed with bark, dirt, ink, leaves, paper, pine, silk, sticks, thread, and wax, among other materials. Most of the art was brought from her home in Barcelona, Spain. Others she created on site, such as an installation whose major component was bryophytes (moss), developed with the help of Sean Robinson, assistant professor of biology and curator of the Jewell and Arline Moss Settle Herbarium in the Perna Science building on campus.

“She wanted to include moss in the exhibition, and we wanted to collect it locally, but we also didn’t want to disrupt the environment. So, we looked to the College because we’re in a unique position of having people who specialize in pretty much everything,” says Sarah Simpson, director of the Art Galleries at SUNY Oneonta. They consulted Robinson, who studies moss. “He talked with us about how to sustainably source it, how to keep it while it was here, and how to safely return it to the natural environment when the show was over. And he was also kind enough to give us the Latin names for everything we had collected.”

One installation was an homage to James Mullen, professor emeritus and former dean of humanities and fine arts, whom Fusillo credits as a “huge influence” on her from her time as a student. The two had a chance to catch up at the exhibition opening.

Fusillo could be found each day in the Project Space Gallery, working on new pieces while maintaining office hours when students could stop by. “I saw the project room as a laboratory for the creative process. I wanted to create a sense of freedom and openness,” Fusillo says. “On the door outside, I put a sign — THIS IS PARADISE — I had brought from my studio in Barcelona. Students came when they could and started to intuitively manipulate used, natural, or sustainable materials. Magic happened. We talked about everything. I loved the approach — asking them what they were passionate about and how they could express their vision with their own voice. I was so grateful for their enthusiasm and dedication. At this point in my career, I get the most joy out of sharing my experience as an artist with others, especially younger creatives.”

“She mentored them, advised them if they had questions, helped point them in different directions, and talked about their work,” Simpson says. She also helped them create. “In her practice, she uses untraditional mediums. She’s very big on sustainability — reusing paper and using dirt and found natural objects. And that was one of the parameters we set for students.

“If they dedicated a certain number of hours to working with Cynthia in the Project Space Gallery and building their own piece, it was added [to the show]. But they weren’t allowed to purchase anything new for it, and we didn’t provide anything. They needed to either reuse old materials, old clothing, things like that, or sustainably source natural objects. We had a lot of discussions on how to be sustainable.”

Seven students (Samantha Alberts ’22, Thomas Bacon ’23, Maize Anna Earner ’22, Jillian Fitchette ’25, Nancy Ramirez ’25, Caroline Reals ’24, and Brooke Sulenski ’25) met these criteria. They worked on components of a large installation titled Standing, Watching, Waiting, constructed of branches, fabric, flowers, graphite, leaves, pine needles, string, sumi ink, (homemade) tempura ink, and twine. The piece was added in early October for the show’s final month.

In the show description, Simpson wrote: “The work on view uses found and repurposed materials to create singular works that reimagine the materials’ use value and question our current throwaway culture.… This exhibition shows the range of Fusillo’s practice: from her avant-garde works on paper and installations, to her more traditional prints, drawings, and sculptures, to photographs of her transitory land art.”

Fusillo created this transitory land art in the woods near campus. Each day, before heading to the Project Space Gallery, she visited College Camp. “It became a ritual. One part of the woods was very dark. It was my favorite part. You felt the quiet of the woods and there was a sense of connection with my surroundings. As I frequented the woods, I realized that my relationship with Nature was changing. As I got to know her better, I felt a strong sense of respect and admiration,” Fusillo says.

“I did not want to destroy her or rip things out of her, but I did want to highlight her beauty. So, I only used Nature that had fallen, or died, and then left it in place so it could decompose and nurture the rest of the woods. I used the pieces of Nature as elements/material to create an interesting composition with texture, form, and line. These installations excited me, and I have started a whole new series because of those walks.”

Fusillo is represented and exhibited by Galeria Contrast (www.galeriacontrast.com) in Barcelona. To see samples of her art, including from her month in Oneonta, visit Fusillo’s Instagram account (www.instagram.com/cynthiafusillo) or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/cynthia.fusillo).


Wednesday, February 2, 2022 3:36:00 PM

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