Mohawk Executive Forum

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Mohawk Executive Forum


The MVCC Foundation sponsored creation of the Mohawk Executive Forum in late 1980. The Forum was designed as an organization for leaders of business, industry and the professions in the greater Utica area. Its purpose was to assist the College and the community in working together to achieve economic, social and political growth. A major feature of the Forum was to be a series of distinguished lecturers. The Forum also conducted special educational programs for members, including a seminar on industrial lasers, a symposium on exporting, and a program on productivity. It helped create the MVCC Export Resource Center and participated in the Mohawk Valley World Trade Council. In August 1986, it became the College Executive Forum, associated with all colleges in the area, not only MVCC. Its president at the time was Earle Reed of Utica Boilers.

(Nov. 26, 1980- Rome Daily Sentinel) – “Mohawk Executive Forum to bolster MVCC – Leaders in business, industry and the professions have founded a Mohawk Executive Forum to bring distinguished lecturers in government and business to the Utica-Rome area and contribute to the area’s social, economic and political growth.
The forum is an offshoot of the Mohawk Valley Community College Foundation, the private sector support group to the college. Its founding members also hope to build a closer relationship between students and faculty at MVCC and the community.
James R. Pyne, president of the Remet Corporation and the forum’s first president, said Monday the group aims to recruit a total of 125 members. Each member, Pyne said, will be assessed $250 annually to finance a number of breakfasts and luncheon meetings at MVCC, at times featuring nationally known speakers. The first breakfast lecture in the series is expected to be held during the first quarter of 1981.
Pyne said forum plans also include seminars and workshops at MVCC, faculty informational services and participation in cultural and other activities.
George H. Robertson, MVCC president, said the forum’s ‘mutual information ad service’ program was aimed to better acquaint students with the local job market, meet employers’ hiring needs and more closely relate the local economy to national and international markets. Robertson added the forum is expected to affect curriculum at the college and prove mutually educational for students, faculty and forum members.
Other forum officers are: first vice president, William Bashant, president of Chicago Market Enterprises; second vice president, William Williamson, executive vice president and general manager of radio station WIBX and WIBQ; treasurer and membership drive chairman, John Zawadzki, regional vice president of Key Bank, and secretary, Carmen A. Scalzo, MVCC director of development.”

In 1980-81 the officers and directors were:
President: James R. Pyne, President, Remet Chemical Corporation
1st Vice President: William Bashant, Chicago Market Enterprises, Inc.
2nd Vice President: William R. Williamson, Executive Vice President/General Manager, WIBX/WIBQ
Treasurer: John A. Zawadski, Vice President, Utica Region, Key Bank of Central New York
Secretary: Carmen A. Scalzo, Executive Director, MVCC Foundation
Albert E. Altongy, D.D.S., Orthodontist
Michael Damsky, General Agent, Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Agency
Ernest M. Enzien, M.D., Physician and Surgeon
Vincent A. Esposito, President, Linen Systems for Hospitals, Inc.
Michael E. Evans, Vice President/Partner; Evans, Garber, Ligas & Paige, Inc.
Russel C. Fielding, Vice President/General Manager, The Rome Sentinel
Richard A. Frye, Atorney, Foley & Frye
Charles A. Gaetano, President, Gaetano Construction Corp.
Nicholas J. Gentile, Vice-President/General Manager, Shearson, Loeb Rhoades, Inc.
Stephen A. Gillis, President, L.A. Stewart Associates
Henry W. Harding, Chairman (Ret) LFE Corporation
Elizabeth W. Hubbard, Executive Director, Utica YWCA
Gilbert H. Jones, President, Utica Duxbak Corporation
Forrest Kelly, President, Oneida National Bank
William N. Macartney, President, Indium Corporation of America
Eugene Madden, United States Marshall, Northern NY District
John B. Millet, Jr., President, Mohawk Metals Products Company, Inc.
John W. Pridgeon, Vice President, Research & Technology, Special Metals Corporation
George H. Robertson, President, Mohawk Valley Community College

1981-82 officers:
In November 1981, John Pridgeon, was named Mohawk Executive Forum President. Other officers: First vice president: Monte Craig, president of Chicago Pneumatic Tool. Second vice president: William Bashant, president of Chicago Market Enterprises. Treasurer: John Zapisek, regional vice president, Marine Midland Bank. Secretary: Carmen Scalzo, director of development, MVCC. New members of the board of directors: Earl Reed, Utica Radiator; Dana Higgins of Rowland, Bellinger & Comstock; Paul Dunn of WTLB Rock 107; John Stetson, Stetson-Dale Architects & Engineers; Dr. John DeTraglia, physician; John Soggs, Soggs Real Estate; Norbert Andres, consultant; David Griffith, M. Griffith Inc., Craig and Zapisek.

1985-86 officers:
William Williamson, president of radio stations WIBX/WIBQ was elected president of the Mohawk Executive Forum in March 1985. Earle Reed, president of Utica Boilers, Inc., was elected first vice president. Michael Evans, an investment broker with M. Griffith & Sons, was elected second vice president.


The first lecture, on February 19th, 1981, was delivered by Dr. Alfred Kahn, nationally-known economist who headed the Carter administration’s anti-inflation program, the Interagency Council on Wage and Price Stability. At the time of his talk, he was Chairman of the Economics Department at Cornell University. He was also a past Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, championing airline deregulation, and Chairman of the New York State Public Service Commission. His topic was “Are We Going to Have to Live with Inflation Forever?” He spoke about President Reagan’s budget-cutting proposals, announced the night before the lecture. This was a breakfast lecture held at the Sheraton Hotel (later the Radisson Hotel) on Genesee Street in Utica. (Most Forum speaking events were held in the same location.) (February 1981)

On May 28, 1981, Malcolm Toon spoke to the Mohawk Executive Forum. Toon was a former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1976 to 1979. He had been with the State Dept. for 30 years. He counseled a “realistic” approach to U.S.-Soviet relations, recognizing a lack of common interest, adversarial relations in the Third World, and understanding that for the Soviets “détente” meant only access to US technology. He also spoke about the then-deteriorating relationship between the Soviet Union and Poland.

Maureen Reagan, 40, daughter of President Ronald Reagan and actress Jane Wyman, spoke to the Mohawk Executive Forum on August 13, 1981. She was serving as president and chief executive officer of Sell Overseas America, formed in 1977, an organization that put potential exporters in touch with buyers overseas. She also spoke about her role as a feminist and supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Dr. Joseph Nye, former Deputy Undersecretary of State (Carter administration), and professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, spoke to the Mohawk Executive Forum on September 18th, 1981. He was a world-recognized expert on energy matters and their impact on national security, and on nuclear non-proliferation. While at the State Department, he had chaired the National Security Council Group on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. He was a member of the Foreign Policy editorial board, and the Trilateral Commission. His degrees: A.B. Public Affairs, Princeton, B.A. from Oxford in philosophy, politics, and economics (Rhodes Scholar), Ph.D., political science, Harvard.

On December 16th, 1981, NBC News Correspondent Lloyd Dobyns was the featured speaker. This was the fifth in the Mohawk Executive Forum lecture series. Dobyns had written and anchored the NBC “white papers: “If Japan can…why can’t we?” and “America works when America works,” both dealing with the decline in productivity in American business and industry, and innovative approaches to reversing the trend. At the time of his appearance, he was a general assignment correspondent for the “NBC Nightly News,” and the “Today” show.

Dr. Paul McCracken, economic advisor to Presidents Nixon and Reagan, spoke to members of the Mohawk Executive Forum on March 4th, 1982. McCracken also spoke to MVCC business students. He was a former chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. His topic was “Reaganomics & the Economic Outlook” He was a University of Michigan economist. (March 1982)

On May 4th, 1982, the Mohawk Executive Forum speaker was Irving Bluestone, a former United Auto Workers official. He spoke about his experience as head of the UAW’s operations at Genera Motors during the 1970’s, including working with GM management to improve the quality of worklife for GM employees, requiring difficult fundamental changes in attitude for both management and labor. At the time of his appearance, he was University Professor of Labor Studies at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.

Television newsman David Brinkley spoke to the Mohawk Executive Forum on August 10th, 1982. He was former co-anchor of NBC evening news with Chet Huntley, and host of “This Week with David Brinkley” on ABC-TV. He talked about presidential primaries and nominating conventions, network coverage of elections, the nation’s economy, conditions in the Soviet Union, arms reduction talks, and Israeli-Palestinian relations

On October 14th, 1982, the Mohawk Executive Forum speaker was Robert F. Flacke, Commissioner of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. His topic was environmental issues that impacted on the conduct of business in New York State, including a local part-county sewer issue, a proposed Rome Resource Recovery Site (steam plant), an imbalance of environmental regulations from state-t-state, the acid rain controversy, etc.

Dr. James L. Hayes, chairman of the American Management Association, spoke to the Mohawk Executive Forum on December 16th, 1982, discussing the national economy, the federal budget, the need for a new social contract between management and labor, and the characteristics of the future successful manager. His official topic was “The Changing Face of Management in the 1980’s.”

The Forum heard from Dr. William C. Freund, senior vice president and chief economist of the New York Stock Exchange, on March 8th, 1983. Freund discussed reasons for the nation’s “economic malaise” at the time, and why he and the Stock Exchange believed more vigorous growth was in the cards. He identified as recovery factors the growing acceptance of participative management, changing demographics, new perceptions of government fiscal and monetary policy, and the effects of developing technology. His official topic: “What’s Ahead for the American Economy?”

On May 24, 1983, Gen. David C. Jones, retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to the Mohawk Executive Forum. His topic was “National Defense and the Civilian Economy.” He also spoke about arms control, the reorganization of the Joint Chiefs, the military budget and foreign policy restrictions on the Presidential War Policies Act. He was chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 1978 until his retirement in 1982, appointed by President Jimmy Carter. Prior to that, he was Air Force Chief of Staff. He was also commander-in-chief of the U.S. Air Force in Europe from 1971 to 1974.

Harry Reasoner, CBS news correspondent and co-editor of “60 minutes” was the Mohawk Executive Forum speaker on September 6th, 1983, discussing economic and political issues, presidential candidates, and the 60 Minutes program. He recounted the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, the Watergate break-in, and the resignations of President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew. Reasoner was also former anchor of the ABC Evening News.

Dr. George Sheehan, nationally prominent cardiologist and runner from Red Bank, NJ, where he was director of radio-cardiography at Riverview Hospital, spoke to the Mohawk Executive Forum on October 13th, 1983, discussing the effects of physical conditioning on job and career success. He also participated in a fund-raising program at St. Luke’s Hospital aimed at developing an exercise course on hospital grounds. His talk, entitled “Fitness, Morale and Management,” explored the role that physical well-being can play in improving creative energy levels, attitudes about stress, and approaches to the workplace. Dr. Sheehan was a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, medical editor of Runner’s World, a competitive runner (in over 60 marathons), and the author of numerous books on running. Membership in the Forum stood at 170. (October 1983)

Lawrence M. Miller, author of “American Spirit: Visions of a New Corporate Culture,” addressed the Mohawk Executive Forum on December 21st, 1983. The Mohawk Executive Forum is a group of approximately 165 business and industry leaders from the Utica-Rome area, and is sponsored by the MVCC Foundation. Miller is an Atlanta-based corporate management consultant. (December 1983)

SUNY Chancellor Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., addressed the Mohawk Executive Forum on January 10th, 1984. Chancellor Wharton described the Forum as an excellent example of the kind of cooperation between business, the community and higher education that catalyze growth and constructive change throughout New York State. Chancellor Wharton had taken over the SUNY helm in 1978 after eight years as president of Michigan State University. An economist, he was a specialist in economic development, higher education and foreign policy. He also served as Chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation, and was on the boards of directors of Ford Motor Company, Time, Inc., and The Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He was also co-chairman of Secretary of State George Schultz’s Commission on Security and Economic Assistance.

Economist and business writer Lester Thurow spoke to the Forum on March 15th, 1984. Thurow was a professor of economics at MIT and the Sloane School of Business Administration. He had also been associate editor and economic columnist for Newsweek magazine, and had written for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, US News & World Report, The Nation and others. He was the author of several books on economics, include Dangerous Currents: The State of American Economics, Zero Sum Society, and other books. He had served on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, the National Commission for Manpower Policy, the NAACP Economic Advisory Council, and had appeared before the US Joint Economic Committee and the US House Banking and Currency Committee numerous times. He was on the editorial board of The New York Times, and was economics columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He spoke about national productivity and the politics of economic growth.

On May 2nd, 1984, the Forum speaker was Willard F. Rockwell, Jr., board chairman of Astrotech International Corporation and former chairman of Rockwell International Corporation. Astrotech International was a new name for the Cyprus Corporation, which at the time was the parent firm of Special Metals Corporation in New Hartford, which had recently been purchased from Allegheny International Corporation. His firm was attempting to buy a space shuttle from NASA.

Henry H. Henley, Jr., chairman of Cluett, Peabody and Co., Inc., spoke to the Mohawk Executive Forum on June 8th, 1984. He said that flexibility, enlightened selfishness and integrity were the three criteria used most often by business in choosing new employees. Cluett, Peabody and Co., a large New York City apparel firm with 1983 sales of $859 million, was the parent company of Duofold, which employed about 500 people in Mohawk, Ilion and Utica and Jet Sew in Barneveld. Duofold manufactured underwear and knit sportswear, while Jet Sew made labor-saving machinery for use by other Cluett Divisions and other apparel manufacturers. Company-wide, Cluett, Peabody employed over 18,000, all but 1,000 in the US.

On September 24th, 1984, the Mohawk Executive Forum was addressed by CBS radio and television journalist Eric Sevareid. His topic was “Presidents, Power and the Press.” Sevareid had retired from CNS in 1977 after working more than 40 years in broadcast journalism. He has joined the network in 1939 as a member of the original news team assembled by the late Edward R, Murrow.

Lawrence M. Miller, author and management consultant based in Atlanta, addressed the Mohawk Executive Forum on December 21st, 1984. He was author of the then-best seller, “American Spirit: Visions of a New Corporate Culture.” Among his consulting clients were American Express, R.J. Reynolds, Exxon.

On March 27, 1985, Marshall Loeb, managing editor of Money magazine spoke to the Forum. He spoke about the link between foreign economies and the local economy in the U.S., with the link being U.S. banks, from which other countries had borrowed heavily. He also spoke about tax reforms and their impact on investing. Loeb had also been an economics editor and columnist for Time.

Thomas D. Bell, Jr., chief executive of the Hudson Institute, a national public policy research foundation, spoke to the Forum on May 13th, 1985. He outlined a recommended public policy agenda for the Reagan administration, including major tax reform, including the elimination of taxes on savings and corporations., and limiting government’s role to only those programs it can do successfully, delegating more responsibilities to state and local governments, and using free market forces rather than the budget and taxation to solve the nation’s economic problems.

On September 26th, 1985, retired NBC news journalist Edwin Newman spoke to the Forum members. He spoke about the role and operation of network news, the negative impact of network competition, including sensationalism and exaggeration. He said public opinion polls were overrated, and that government should not interfere with the media because of resentment over Vietnam coverage. Newman had been with NBC News for 40 years, and moderated Presidential campaign debates in 1976 and 1984. He headed the network’s bureaus in London, Rome and Paris.

New York State Commerce Commissioner Ronald J. Moss addressed the Mohawk Executive Forum on October 28th, 1985. Commissioner Moss brought Forum members up to date on State programs for economic development, and urged support for State proposition one, involving the Job Development Authority. He spoke in support of a proposed NYS Job Development Authority hat would be voted on in November.

On November 14th, 1985, the Forum’s speaker was Harry E. Figgie, Jr., chairman, chief executive officer and founder of Figgie International, Inc., a diversified operating company with over 35 principal divisions and subsidiaries with 1984 sales of $721 million. Among its properties was Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, including the Adirondack Bat division in Dolgeville.

On March 25th, 1986, economics analyst and writer George Gilder spoke to the Forum. His views were said to have influenced the Reagan administration and the supply-side approach to public economic policy. His books included Wealth and Poverty and The Spirit of Enterprise. His talk focused on the role of entrepreneurial creativity in bring commercial ideas to success. He also led a workshop for inventors, entrepreneurs, investors, community leaders, and members of organizations interested in economic development.

The Forum speaker on May 29th, 1986 was sociologist Paul Starr, who won the Pulitzer prize for his book, The Social Transformation of American Medicine. He discussed the local impact of emerging changes in the health care delivery system. He was a professor at Princeton University, having recently joined the school and leaving Harvard.

On September 18th, 1986, the Forum’s speaker was astronomer Carl Sagan, Cornell University professor and author. The Forum had recently changed its name to the College Executive Forum, and was associated not only with MVCC but also Utica College, Hamilton College, Herkimer County Community College and the State University College of Technology at Utica-Rome.

Raymond Schuler, president of the New York State Business Council, spoke to the College Executive Forum (formerly the Mohawk Executive Forum) on December 1st, 1986. A former commissioner of the State Dept of Transportation, he spoke about the Business Council’s role in improving the State’s business climate, and issues that would affect future economic development.

On March 31st, 1987, Arthur Lipper III, publisher, chairman and editor-in-chief of Venture magazine, spoke to the College Executive Forum, focusing on launching or expanding new business enterprises. The program was for entrepreneurs, and those involved in economic development, banking, investments and accounting.

Other Activities

MVCC and the Mohawk Executive Forum jointly sponsored a public seminar on the industrial use of lasers. MVCC Technology & Business Division faculty members were joined by several industrial experts in conducting the program for more than 100 representatives of local industry. (May 1981)

MVCC and the Mohawk Executive Forum co-sponsored a conference on cost-saving energy systems for business on March 18th, 1982. Featured speakers included officials from the New York State Energy Office, and energy experts from the private sector.

(May 25, 1986, Utica Newspapers) – “Reed: Forum will incorporate – The Mohawk Executive Forum, a six-year old association of area business and community leaders that has been affiliated with Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC), plans to become an independent corporation by Sept. 1.
Forum President Earle Reed, the president of Utica Boilers, Inc., said the forum will seek to work more closely with the SUNY College of Technology and Utica College, as well as with MVCC.
Reed, who was elected forum president two months ago, succeeding Bill Williamson, former president of radio station WIBX who left the area, said the forum’s most successful activity has been its regular program of breakfast meeting speakers, who have included several nationally-known figures. But he said the forum is far more than a speakers bureau.
‘We want to get into more seminars, and programs to spur the economy,’ said Reed. ‘Working closely with the three colleges, we’ll get ideas in areas of mutual interest to not just the colleges, but to the community at large.’
By becoming an independent corporation, the forum intends to ‘get away from any parochialism… be a part of the whole picture, involving the whole valley,’ Reed said.
The forum’s membership stands at about 150, and Reed said it should increase to about 250 within a year, because of the closer involvement with SUNY and Utica College.
The forum has been coordinated out of offices at MVCC, but a separate office will be established at a location that has not yet been determined, Reed said.
He said the forum’s board of directors and executive committee has approved becoming an independent corporation, adding that bylaws, financial matters and other details must be ironed out between now and Sept. 1….”