Alumni College: Connected Through Learning

Alan Hecht, director of sustainable development, US Environmental Protection Agency.

Alumni College programs offer the opportunity to engage in the academic life of the University through lifelong learning seminars featuring Montclair State’s dynamic faculty and business and industry leaders. These panels are designed to expand the alumni experience and allow alumni to join a discussion on an emerging industry trend or hot topic.

Here’s a look at last spring's sessions:

Building a Sustainable America
This session examined the concept of sustainability and what it means in terms of policy, business and everyday life. What does a sustainable society look like? The session featured Eric Svenson, vice president of policy and environmental health and safety at PSEG, Michael Weinstein, director of Montclair State’s PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies and Alan Hecht, director of sustainable development at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

More than “going green,” sustainability seeks to address the long-term threat posed by the unanticipated effects of human actions. This session addressed how modern civilization is potentially placing irreversible stresses on the relationship between the environment and human progress, including the areas of population, habitation, consumption and environmental change.

Hecht touched on the history of the sustainability movement, highlighting initiatives in the United States and throughout the world. He also talked about the vital role of business in addressing the economics of sustainability. In order to achieve sustainability, it must be made economically beneficial to businesses and society, he said.

Leveraging New Media for Business Success
This panel, moderated by Professor Nicole Bryan, delved into using new media channels, web design and web tracking tools (e.g. “cookies”) to enhance customer experience for optimal business success. The discussion included search engine optimization (SEO), social media, mobile technology, Web 2.0, mashups, apps and the online customer experience.

The panel featured Professor Ross Malaga of the Department of Information and Operations Management; Simon Leung, president and CEO of Gemini Systems; Michael Bisignani, senior vice president and co-chief technology officer of Gemini Systems; and John Maalouf ’10, director of social media at SituatioNormal.

The Role of ETFs in the Financial Marketplace and Investment Portfolios
Comprised of School of Business faculty and financial industry representatives, this panel addressed the role of ETFs (exchange traded funds) in the current and future marketplace. How have ETFs changed the financial industry? What are the advantages and risks of ETFs? The panel featured James T. Cirenza, managing director at DNB Markets, as moderator, and speakers; Professor A. Seddik Meziani, chair of the Department of Economics and Finance; Lydia Eftimoski, vice president and senior financial adviser at LGM Wealth Management Group - Merrill Lynch Wealth Management; and Christos Mihopoulos, principal of State Street Global Advisors and regional sales consultant.

The role of these funds has increased dramatically in global markets since the first US-listed ETF was introduced nearly 20 years ago. Last year, that ETF, commonly known as “SPY,” became the first US-listed ETF to garner more than $100 billion in assets. The industry is now a major component of investment strategies and includes nearly 1,400 funds that increasingly poach market share from mutual funds. ETFs are available in virtually all segments of the market and track everything from bonds, real estate investment trusts and the utility sector to the S&P 500.

Alumni College attendees responded positively, noting that topics were timely, interesting and insightful, and the format was interactive and engaging. Visit the alumni website at for information on additional sessions.