He graduated from Pitt’s College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in economics and a certificate in Asian Studies. He then earned an MBA and law degree at Temple University. He remains “an avid Pitt basketball fan who hasn’t missed watching a game in many, many years.”
Interview by Dan Majors
Photograph by Robert Bonifield
A conversation with Brent Saunders (A&S ’92), senior vice president of Schering-Plough Corp. in Kenilworth, N.J., where he also is president of consumer health care, overseeing the marketing of products ranging from Coppertone and Claritin to Dr. Scholl’s Air-Pillo Insoles.
The three words that best describe me are … hard-working mover. When I was young, I worked at Mayflower Moving in the summers and during high school, which was probably the hardest physical job I ever had. But it goes to my liking to get things done, even when they’re tough to move.
If I had 10 extra minutes in the day, I’d … spend it with my two girls. And if there was any more time, I’d be reading about Pitt sports.
While I was at Pitt, I met … Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, and Mister Rogers.
The music I listen to most is … my children’s favorites—Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers. That’s all I have on my car radio when my daughters are with me.
The most important things about being an executive are ... having humility, working hard, and surrounding myself with good people.
When I left Pitt, I was … well prepared. Student government and extracurricular activities taught me a lot about leadership and responsibility. (He served as president of the Student Government Board for a year.)
My favorite country to visit was … Japan. My background in East Asian studies at Pitt opened up my fascination.
I once got a prize for ... being the senior of the year at the University of Pittsburgh. They gave me an engraved stone between the Cathedral and the Chapel.
The thing I still have after all these years ... is a stack of The Pitt News newspapers. My mother used to save the ones that had my name in them. They’re fun to read once in a while.
If I had pursued a fantasy career at Pitt ... it would have been on the basketball team. Of course, I’d have to have been five inches taller.
Message from Jeff Gleim
It’s an honor and a privilege to have been named interim associate vice chancellor (AVC) for alumni relations. When I arrived at Pitt, I was pleased to have the opportunity to work with then AVC Lee Patouillet. As you may know, Lee has moved to the University of Florida at Gainesville to lead their alumni effort. In his 17 years at Pitt, Lee made great strides in alumni relations. Among his many accomplishments were establishing a dues-based alumni association, starting Pitt’s first-ever Student Alumni Association, and working with Yale and Harris Connect to launch the Pitt Career Network, an online service that matches alumni volunteers who network with students and other alumni. Above all, Lee helped make the alumni association a valued partner of the University.
I look forward to meeting and working with many of you. Together, we can fulfill the mission of the association, “To advance the University of Pittsburgh and enrich the lives of students and alumni worldwide.”
In August, we welcomed alumni leaders back to campus for our Alumni Leaders Conference entitled “The Only Constant Is Change.” Truer words have never been spoken. Our focus was to help them become more effective ambassadors for the University. Soon afterwards, we welcomed new and returning students to campus during Arrival Survival, a program we sponsor with the Office of Student Affairs. We’re working hard to improve the student experience and cultivate a new generation of alumni leaders.
At this time of change for the association, I encourage you to connect or reconnect with your alma mater. Visit our new Web site, www.alumni.pitt.edu, to learn more about us. And drop us a line. We love hearing from you.
Hail to Pitt!
Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations
Pitt Legislative Network
On Pitt Day in Harrisburg, Pa., Chancellor Mark A.Nordenberg (far right) joins Pitt alumni who are members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate.
Front row, from left to right: Representative Jaret Gibbons LAW ‘06, Representative Thomas Yewcic LAW ‘05, Representative Chelsa Wagner LAW ‘05, Senator Mary Jo White LAW ‘67, Senator John N. Wozniak UPA ‘78, and Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. Back row, from left to right: Representative Sean M. Ramaley LAW ‘02, Representative Martin R. Causer UPB ‘96, Representative Brian L. Ellis, A&S ‘99, Senator John C. Rafferty Jr. A&S ‘78.
Learning to Succeed
A second chance pays off big
Written by Niki Kapsambelis
Photograph by Tom Altany
Awake since the predawn hours of a cold Western Pennsylvania morning, bleary-eyed from putting in a full day of work driving a truck for his father’s plumbing and heating business, Jim McCarl took his seat in the evening class beside people old enough to be his parents: housewives, business owners, day workers, and others who were motivated to get a college education by attending classes at night. He looked around, knowing he still had an hour’s drive home, meaning he would get in by 11 p.m. and hit the pillow for a few hours before his alarm went off at 5 a.m. for the next day’s work. And he had a thought: I am lucky to be here.
It wasn’t supposed to work out this way. McCarl—who was born Foster James McCarl III—had been a standout at Beaver Falls High School, graduating 16th in a class of 600, getting accepted at Brown University in his junior year, and opting instead to attend the University of Virginia on a football scholarship. But by 1968, the stars in McCarl’s future began to wink out.
“I wasn’t as focused on being a student as I should have been,” says McCarl now, diplomatically, about his exit from Mr. Jefferson’s university. “I just had too good a time and didn’t spend enough time with the books.”
The news didn’t get any better once he made his inauspicious return home. No college would take him, nor would any employer. Despite the Vietnam War, which was hitting its crescendo, even the military rejected him for service when his draft number came up. McCarl’s father relented and gave his son a job, but not without strings.
“My dad was very disappointed,” McCarl acknowledges. “I was the oldest son and had always done the right thing and always succeeded. He said, ‘You screwed up big time,’ and put me in the lowest job we had.” Adds McCarl: “That was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. It taught me a lot of lessons.”
His luck continued to improve when Pitt accepted him to night school. This time, McCarl made the most of his opportunity. He enrolled full time in the College of General Studies (CGS), while also holding down his full-time job. He earned a degree in economics in 1973. Though it was grueling, McCarl was determined to complete his education as soon as possible.
The elder McCarl recognized the reemergence of his son’s ambition, and they continued together in the family business, this time with the younger McCarl using his Pitt economics degree to build its success. By the 1980s, it had grown into one of the largest mechanical contractors in the United States, with multiple office locations. Jim sold his interests in 1999 and now serves as president of The McCarl Group, a business consulting firm. He remains grateful for the second chance that Pitt gave him. “My God, my wife, and my University made me the man I am today. I’ve never forgotten Pitt for that,” he says.
The University didn’t forget him, either. McCarl—who has received the CGS Distinguished Alumni Award and the Pitt Alumni Association’s Volunteer of the Year Award—is a University trustee and a Distinguished Alumni Fellow. In April, he became the new president of the Pitt Alumni Association. Among the many contributions he and his family have made over the years is the McCarl Center for Nontraditional Student Success on the fourth floor of the Cathedral of Learning, where students have a lounge, meeting rooms, and a resource library. Staff members assist nontraditional students with everything from developing study skills to exploring careers and finding financial aid.
McCarl’s own son, Foster J.J. McCarl, transferred to CGS from Syracuse University. He, too, contributed to the center’s establishment. And Jim McCarl and his wife, Carol, also funded the McCarl Hall of Champions in the Petersen Events Center. Though he did not play for Pitt himself, McCarl is a lifelong Panthers fan.“My dad was a season-ticket holder forever,” he says. “We enjoyed the history and the legacy.”
As for his plans at the helm of the alumni association, McCarl says he would like to focus on membership retention, customer service, and keeping communication lines open with alumni. “You have 265,000 alumni worldwide—that creates some opportunity. But it also creates some challenges in how you keep in contact with them,” he says. “Our footprint is getting broader, and we’re reaching out more and more.”
Message from Mimi
Alumni came from as far away as Los Angeles for the Alumni Leaders Conference. It was great to see the folks I know well and the new faces too. The energy is contagious. If you haven’t volunteered for the association, come to our web site, www.alumni.pitt.edu, and see the possibilities.
Director of Alumni Communications
The Pitt Alumni Association
4227 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
As keynote speaker, Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kathy Humphrey talked about the “millennial student” at this year’s Alumni Leaders Conference. Jodi Kraisinger from the Greensburg Campus resonates with what Dean Humphrey has to say. John Voinski (CBA ’01) of New York City ponders trivia questions.
On Fri., Aug. 1, alumni converged on Heinz Field to hear from Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg and Pitt coaches at the Pitt Alumni barbecue. Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations Jeff Gleim is on hand for the festivities. Chuck Glover (A&S ’77) and wife Peggy Glover (SHRS ’79) spend some quality time with the Pitt Panther. Rich Kowal (A&S ’74, GSPIA ’76) poses a question at the conference. Pitt Alumni Association President Jim McCarl (CGS ’73) is master of ceremonies.
Education major hosts the Pitt family in South Florida
Written by Niki Kapsambelis
Far from Pennsylvania, where she grew up, or Florida, where she now spends a good chunk of her adult life, Audrey Marten lay in a hospital bed in East Brunswick, N.J., recovering from the birth of her first daughter. The new mother looked out the room’s window, which overlooked a school.
It was the morning after Labor Day, historically the first day of class, and the young mother came to a startling realization: For the first time in her life, she wasn’t going back to school, either as a student or a teacher.
Marten attended Pittsburgh’s Peabody High School in the 1950s and entered the University of Pittsburgh with the same expectations as many young women of her generation: She would earn a degree in education, find a husband, and get married. If you were from Western Pennsylvania, you went to Pitt or Penn State. She elected to stay close to home.
Marten got married right after graduating in 1959 and taught for a year before moving to New Jersey, where her husband got a job. By the time her daughter was born, she had left her teaching job for family life.
The Martens relocated to Florida (“sand in my shoes,” she says lightly), and she became interested in real estate in the early 1970s. It has been her career ever since.
“Now, so many girls go to school and become physicians or dentists,” Marten says—not so in the 1950s, when she earned a bachelor’s degree in education. “Actually, teaching was the right fit for me,” she says in retrospect. “In the real estate business, I’m still teaching. I’m acquainting people with the whys and wherefores.”
Today, Marten is also the face of Pitt in Florida’s Gulf Coast region. As an area representative for the Pitt Alumni Association, she organizes events to reacquaint local Florida alumni with the University’s activities and accomplishments while also rekindling campus memories and connections. Already, she is planning a polo tailgate picnic for 2009, in February or March when snowbirds tend to flock to the Gulf.
At one alumni dinner, she urged participants to share some of their recollections about the University. Hers included the long treks she would take up Cardiac Hill to get to her part-time job. She also recalls registering for classes for $11 a credit.
Pitt “gave me an education. It opened my eyes to the world,” says Marten, whose parents were immigrants—her mother from Hungary, her father from Lithuania. For them, it was a significant accomplishment to send a daughter to college, a fact which she remembers whenever she sees the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning.
“Pitt gave me a lot,” she says. “It was beyond what you learned in the curriculum. Pitt exposed you to so many different kinds of people that I wouldn’t have had a chance to know if I hadn’t gone to the University.”
Marten (EDUC ’59) is continuing that spirit in Florida, working to establish Pitt connections with people in the sunshine state.
“She’s a really good ambassador for the University and takes a lot of pride in its accomplishments,” says Alyson Kavalukas, the association’s associate director for alumni outreach.
For her part, Marten hopes to build Pitt’s reputation and encourage involvement from other alumni: “It’s just a very small, drop-in-the-bucket way of giving something back and keeping the Pitt spirit alive.”
While she may not return to campus each fall, it’s clear that this graduate never completely left.