C. Lowell Parsons ’66, M.D.
The Key to an Illustrious Career
As a scientist, surgeon and urologist, C. Lowell Parsons ’66, M.D., has won acclaim and earned patents for original research that has helped thousands of people who suffer from a chronic bladder disorder. He traces these and other achievements to his undergraduate years at Manhattan College.
“That was where I originally learned the scientific method,” says Lowell, professor emeritus of urology in the School of Medicine at the University of California San Diego. He credits one instructor in particular for setting him on his path to success. “Everything I’ve accomplished,” Lowell notes, “began with Dr. Bob Beardsley.”
Robert Beardsley ’50, Ph.D., served as a professor and chair of biology at Manhattan from 1951 to 1977. He also directed the Plant Morphogenesis Lab, where Lowell spent his junior and senior years conducting research. “Bob taught me the technology of microbial science,” says Lowell. To honor his mentor while assisting today’s young Jaspers, Lowell and his wife, JoEllen, established and support the Dr. Robert Beardsley ’50 Endowed Scholarship in Biology.
Now Lowell has made another significant investment in Manhattan’s heritage of excellence in the sciences. He has donated $2 million — one of the largest single gifts in the College’s history — to create The Dr. C. Lowell and JoEllen Parsons Endowed Chair in Biology. “I’ve wanted to establish one for quite a while,” he says. “If an institution hopes to keep and recruit talented faculty, it helps to have endowed chairs.”
One of four siblings, Lowell grew up in Troy, N.Y., where he attended Catholic Central High School. His parents encouraged him to consider a career in medicine. A Regents Scholarship helped to cover Lowell’s tuition, room and board at Manhattan College, where he majored in biology. “I believe I spent most of my time in the lab,” he says, “after class, in the evenings, even weekends.” He graduated in 1966.
Lowell earned his M.D. at Yale University’s School of Medicine in 1970. As an award-winning urology resident at the University of Pennsylvania, he continued to conduct research at leading agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Lowell found that many patients diagnosed with a bladder infection actually suffer from interstitial cystitis — painful inflammation caused when the organ’s protective mucus barrier breaks down. He discovered that a compound called sodium pentosanpolysulfate could successfully treat the condition. Lowell’s work led to the medication Elmiron — and his first patent.
After residency, Lowell went on to a faculty position in the urology department at the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine. He has spent his entire career there. His other discoveries also have earned patents. Today, Lowell works part time, conducting research and seeing patients. He also generously supports Yale’s School of Medicine as well as Manhattan College. “I believe in giving something back into the system,” he says. “If you believe an institution has had a positive impact on your life, then you do what you can to help it thrive.”
William P. Hannon ’69
Keeping the Tradition Strong
By the time William P. (Bill) Hannon ’69 retired in 2014 as executive vice president of enterprise risk management at The Travelers Companies, he had amassed more than four decades of experience as a corporate leader.
Among the many lessons he learned, he says, one in particular is absolutely critical to success: “Reputation. Especially in the risk and insurance business, you’ve got to be known for dependability and ethical behavior. The way the public sees you is your biggest risk factor.”
That, he adds, may be why so many Manhattan College alumni excel in business. “Integrity is unbelievably important, not just in your career, but in life,” Bill observes. “That was — and still is — the foundation of everything we’re taught at Manhattan.”
To help keep his alma mater strong, Bill and his wife, Susan, are longstanding supporters, giving generously to initiatives including the Annual Fund, De La Salle Medal Dinner, and Patricia and Cornelius J. Higgins ’62 Engineering and Science Center. Bill also is a former Manhattan trustee.
“I’ve been giving in one way or another since right after graduating,” says Bill. “That year, I think I sent in $25, whatever I could. Since then, Susan and I have been able to increase the amount of our contributions. It’s something we believe in, and it’s become a habit.”
One of five children, Bill grew up in Queens, N.Y. His father inspired him to pursue a career in business. “My dad was pretty successful,” he says. “I guess that originally drove me.” Bill attended the former Mater Christi High School (now St. John’s Preparatory School), where his teachers, Christian Brothers, recommended Manhattan College.
Bill commuted to the Riverdale campus. An accounting major, he was active in the Business Association and a fraternity. He also worked part-time at Peat Marwick, now KPMG. After graduating in 1969, Bill spent two years in the U.S. Navy — “two different ships: one a submarine tender, the other a submarine” — before returning to KPMG full time. He remained for 27 years, ultimately rising to partner.
In 1996, Bill became chief financial officer at The Travelers Companies. Upon a merger with Citicorp in 1998, he served as controller for its parent, Citigroup Inc. The Travelers Companies spun off from Citi in 2002; three years later, Bill returned to Travelers: “They asked me back, and I wanted to serve in a new capacity.” He joined as chief risk officer, launching his work in that field for the next nine years.
Today, Bill says, “My job is to enjoy my family.” He also maintains his strong ties to Manhattan College as an alumnus, a benefactor and a parent — his daughter, Kimberly, graduated from Manhattan in 2000. “The College is an important factor in so many lives and careers,” he says. “If you’re a beneficiary, you want to keep the tradition going.”
James P. Maguire ’56
“A Legacy Worth Supporting”
At a time when many of his peers choose retirement, James P. Maguire ’56 still enjoys working as a senior vice president for wealth management at Morgan Stanley. “Stepping back may be good for some,” says Jim. “But I’ve observed that retiring doesn’t necessarily make you happier or healthier.” His conclusion: “I prefer the office.”
Jim especially likes being able to guide others in making sound financial decisions. “What we do with our earnings shapes the rest of our lives,” he says. “I regard my clients as friends, and I like to help my friends.”
Assisting others, Jim observes, is a value engrained in a Manhattan College education. “It’s something I’ve always appreciated — that emphasis on doing the right thing. You’re taught to be smart and to make a difference. Whenever I meet Manhattan graduates, I can count on them for two things: being at the top of their game, and being ethical.”
It is a legacy that Jim and his wife, Patricia, want to help strengthen. In addition to a lifetime of annual giving, they very generously have donated more than $800,000 to Manhattan over the past two years. These most recent gifts will fund a new fellowship in the O’Malley School of Business in addition to providing further support for the Patricia A. and James P. Maguire ’56B Scholarship they have established. “For me,” he says, “it’s an investment in a grand tradition.”
Jim notes that he and most of his classmates are the children and grandchildren of immigrants. “Our Brothers education was a character-building experience,” says Jim. Moreover, he adds, he and his fellow Jaspers shared a special resolve: “Nothing motivates you like the need to lift yourself up.”
Jim was born and raised in Washington Heights. His parents emigrated from Ireland: “County Tyrone for my mom,” he says. “County Monaghan for my dad.” Jim’s father maintained city buses; his mother served as a maid for a stockbroker. “She actually learned a lot about investing. She built a pretty good portfolio, too.”
Upon graduating from Cardinal Hayes High School, Jim enrolled at Manhattan, balancing his studies with a part-time job. A member of the ROTC, he began active duty in the Air Force after earning his business degree in 1956. “It was quite a confidence booster,” he says. “I figured, if I could fly planes over the North Pole, land on the Greenland ice cap, there wasn’t much I couldn’t do.”
Four years later, Jim joined Hayden, Stone & Co., where he became a partner. He left in 1968 to found the former Douglas, Stewart, Maguire & Parkhurst Inc. Jim went on to Morgan Stanley. During his career, he also bought, revamped and sold three companies. A believer in lifelong learning, he earned his MBA at New York University.
Today, Jim says, he is excited to help strengthen the College that prepared him for such success. “I’m just paying it back,” he observes. “Manhattan has always had excellent professors and students. It’s a legacy that’s worth supporting.”
Luz Mejia-Bailey ’95
“Always a Jasper”
Luz Mejia-Bailey ’95 was 10 years old when her family left the Dominican Republic for their new home in the Washington Heights section of New York City. Attending public schools, she quickly mastered English and excelled in all her studies. One subject especially intrigued her.
“Science,” she says. “When I was little, I used to pretend to be a doctor. Maybe it was because I liked to help my parents with my brother and sister — I had this instinct for taking care of others.”
Today, Luz is an award-winning dentist in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. In fact, her peers have voted her among the Hudson Valley’s “Top Endodontists” for the past eight years. “It’s very gratifying to be able to really help people in this way,” says Luz. “In a sense, it all began with the things I learned and the support of my advisors at Manhattan College.”
Luz was a senior at George Washington High School when she and a friend applied to Manhattan College. “She liked the business school,” Luz recalls. “I was impressed by the biology program.” A campus visit convinced her to enroll: “I loved it.”
Luz commuted 45 minutes a day by subway. At the time, many of Manhattan’s biology courses were held at the nearby College of Mount Saint Vincent; a shuttle bus ferried students between the campuses. Having danced in high school, Luz “tried a little cheerleading,” but ultimately could not afford the time. “Classes and lab — that was my focus,” she says.
Guided by faculty mentors, Luz prepared for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). A chance conversation with a friend led her on a slightly different path. She took the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and received a scholarship to New York University’s College of Dentistry. She excelled, earning her D.D.S. as well as a certificate from the school’s Advanced Education Program in Endodontics.
Luz completed her general residency at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. After practicing in New York City and White Plains, N.Y., she joined Blondin’s Endodontics in Poughkeepsie, where she practices today. She lives in Cold Spring, N.Y., with her husband (also a dentist) and three sons. “I expect at least one of them to become a Jasper,” she says. Luz also uses her skills to serve others, volunteering twice a year at a clinic in the Dominican Republic.
At the same time, Luz continues to remain close to her alma mater, attending varied alumni activities whenever she can and consistently supporting the Manhattan by giving to initiatives such as the Annual Fund. “I believe in giving back,” says Luz, “especially to the College, which has been such an important influence in my life. Wherever I go, I’m always a Jasper.”
Carlos Onis ’76
A Worthy Investment “At All Times”
Carlos Onis ’76 points to the power of a quality education as a prime factor in his successful corporate career. By the time he retired as a managing director at Credit Suisse in 2014, Carlos had served as the company’s chief financial officer for the Americas, as well as its global head of group finance.
“What and where you study are decisive factors in every young person’s subsequent achievements,” says Carlos. “In that sense, and others, I and my brother (José ’74) were beneficiaries of everything Manhattan College has to offer — which is substantial.”
Like many Manhattan students, Carlos says, he was a “local New York City kid” who commuted to campus. His parents had settled in Queens, N.Y., after emigrating from Cuba in 1962. Carlos’s father applied his talent for numbers to a career in accounting, ultimately becoming controller at a small shipping company.
Carlos was familiar with the Christian Brothers long before enrolling at Manhattan College. As a child in Havana, he briefly attended a Lasallian school. In Queens, he studied with the Brothers at Mater Christi Diocesan High School, now St. John’s Prep. Originally interested in biology, Carlos followed José to Manhattan College’s O’Malley School of Business.
An accounting major, Carlos traveled each day from his home in Forest Hills, Queens. He held part-time jobs throughout his four years at Manhattan. “Most students I knew were commuters,” he says. “I managed to go to some events, mixers mainly, but there wasn’t time for much besides work — and of course, my classes.”
Those studies, he says, were life-changing. “Accounting is about critical thinking — sound preparation whether you’re running a business or balancing personal finances.” Moreover, professors at Manhattan had “real-world experience, which they shared.” The College’s required 12 credits in religion also introduced Carlos to different faith traditions. “We learned to respect others’ world views,” he notes, “a must in a diverse workplace.”
After graduating, Carlos joined Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co. (now KPMG), where he rose to senior manager. Eight years later, he left for the First Boston Corporation. After a series of mergers, the company ultimately became part of Credit Suisse. Carlos held various senior finance roles during his 30 years with the firm.
Today, Carlos and his wife, Linda, also a retired corporate executive, share their good fortune by generously contributing to various philanthropic causes, including Manhattan. Together, they are funding the Onis Family Scholarship for accounting majors; are providing financial assistance to Jaspers participating in the College Fed Challenge; and have made a substantial commitment to support third-floor renovations in De La Salle Hall — the O’Malley School’s historic home — in memory of José.
“It’s critical at all times to support a school like Manhattan,” Carlos says. “From our perspective, we’re helping students to attain a top-tier education. It’s a quality education that always should be available to anyone wishing to invest in their own future.”
Colleen Griffin Wagner
Guiding her Parents’ Legacy for New Generations
When Colleen Griffin Wagner was a child in Hastings, N.Y., her family shared a strong commitment to serving others. “As long as I can remember,” she says, “my parents believed in doing whatever we can to assist a good cause, especially one that’s made a positive difference in our own lives.”
Today, the desire to “give something back” maintains a powerful influence not only on Colleen, but her siblings and children as well. “It’s more like a family tradition,” she reflects. “The opportunity to do the right thing — it’s not just a responsibility. It’s a privilege.”
The legacy began with Colleen’s parents, William E. (Bill) ’54 and Margaret Griffin. They established the Griffin Family Foundation, which provides financial support for nonprofit organizations throughout Westchester County. Included among its beneficiaries, however, is one institution located just over the Bronx county line. “Manhattan College,” says Colleen. “It’s just like a part of our family.”
An ardent Jasper, Colleen’s father grew up in a working-class household in Yonkers, N.Y. When he began considering colleges, his thoughts turned to Manhattan. “That was where ambitious young people in his neighborhood knew they would acquire an outstanding Catholic college education,” says Colleen.
At Manhattan, Bill played baseball while focusing on his accounting studies. “It made sense to him.” Colleen says. “Accounting was like his lens for viewing the world, a way of ordering things.” After graduating from Manhattan, Bill spent two years in the U.S. Army before enrolling at the Villanova University School of Law. He attended on the G.I. Bill while supporting himself by playing semipro baseball in Philadelphia. Earning his J.D. in 1959, he practiced law in Yonkers and Bronxville, N.Y.; served as research counsel to former Lieutenant Governor Malcom Wilson; and won election to the Westchester County Board of Supervisors.
In 1972 Bill helped found the Hudson Valley Bank, which he led as director and chairman for 40 years. He also shared his time and talent with a number of nonprofit organizations — for example, as president of the Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation; director of the Northern Ireland Children’s Enterprise; and the Monsignor Robert B. Fox Memorial Shelter, which assists women suffering from poverty or domestic violence.
At the same time, Colleen notes, he remained a loyal Jasper. “He always said the College was his springboard to success, and he talked about it with everyone in earshot.” His enthusiasm touched Colleen’s entire family, including her sons, William ’18, Michael ’19 and Jack ’21. “I’m personally grateful that the College was there for them,” she says.
Colleen’s father passed away in 2012. Today, she helps guide the Griffin Family Foundation alongside her mother; brother, Dan; and sister, Kate. Together, they continue its philanthropic mission by generously supporting institutions like Manhattan College. “It made a real difference for my dad and my sons,” she says. “That’s what education does. We want to make sure it’s the same for future generations.”
Robert G. Pulver ’69
A Lifelong Commitment to Serving Others
When Manhattan College opened its original Upper West Side campus on May 5, 1853, the Christian Brothers resolved that the young institution would provide an education equal to that “attained in the best American universities or colleges.” They, in turn, always expected their young charges to help make our world a better place.
Robert G. “Bob” Pulver ’69 embraced this aim in every aspect of his life and career. He was the founder, president and chief executive officer of All-State Industries, a top manufacturer of nonmetallic industrial components. A U.S. Army veteran and business leader, he also was a dedicated philanthropist. In addition to supporting his alma mater, Bob and his wife, Deb, helped to strengthen a wide variety of charitable causes.
“Bob was a towering figure, a beloved Jasper who made a powerful, positive mark on life and learning at our College,” says Thomas Mauriello, vice president for college advancement. Bob passed away on Thursday, August 26, 2021. He was 73.
Born and raised in Yonkers, N.Y., Bob credited his uncle, Walter Camas ’52, with directing him to Manhattan. After earning his chemical engineering degree in 1969, Bob headed west for a position at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Patriotic service briefly interrupted his career. He enlisted in the Army, ultimately working as a medic at Brooks Army Hospital in Texas.
Upon completing his service, Bob returned to Goodyear. But in 1974 — just five years after graduating from Manhattan — he went on to found the business that would become All-State Industries. Throughout his more than 40 years of leadership, the company enjoyed impressive growth, attracting widespread recognition and clients from around the world.
Bob was fond of aviation, travel and golf. Above all, he and Deb committed their time and resources to philanthropy, especially in Bob’s adopted hometown, Des Moines. Their beneficiaries included the Blank Children’s Hospital; the UnityPoint Health–Blank Children’s STAR Center; the John Stoddard Cancer Center; the Iowa Health Foundation; the Iowa State University; and the Young Women’s Resource Center.
Bob also served Manhattan as a very generous benefactor and trustee. Along with supporting the Annual Fund and Anniversary Class Gift Program, he and Deb honored his uncle’s memory by establishing the Walter C. Camas ’52 Scholarship for Business. In 2017, they made a $2 million pledge toward the Patricia and Cornelius J. Higgins ’62 Engineering and Science Center. He received an honorary doctor of engineering degree from Manhattan in May 2019.
Bob is survived by three children — Marlyse, Reed and Scott — from his marriage to Virginia Mariner, who passed away in 1993 after a long battle with cancer. He also has six grandchildren: Jake Fant, Max Boyko, Hudson Pulver, Isla Pulver, Stella Pulver and Abbot Pulver.
“Bob’s energy and enthusiasm were truly remarkable,” says Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D., president of Manhattan. “The strength of character that led to his notable business success was equally evident in his commitment to serving others. He will remain an enduring and greatly valued role model for current and future generations of Jaspers.”
James J. Wilson ’55
“A Truly Great Jasper”
For more than 129 years, Manhattan’s engineering alumni have strengthened their alma mater’s well-earned reputation as “the College that builds New York.” Through the work of illustrious graduates like James J. (Jim) Wilson ’55, however, the Riverdale campus also has exercised a positive influence on communities far beyond the Empire State.
A visionary entrepreneur, community planner and corporate leader, Jim was president and chief executive officer of Interstate General Contractors, which he founded in 1957. He and his wife, Barbara, launched the company with only $760. It grew steadily, ultimately becoming the Interstate General Company LP, a force in real estate investment and building in the Caribbean and United States.
“Jim was truly a great Jasper,” says Thomas Mauriello, vice president for college advancement. “As a benefactor and former trustee, he helped guide his alma mater through the challenging years of the ’80s and ’90s.” Jim passed away on June 10, 2021.
One of seven children, Jim was born and raised in the Bronx, N.Y. He forged close ties with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as a teenager, briefly studying there while his father worked in San Juan. Returning to the Bronx, Jim graduated from Cardinal Hayes High School. A civil engineering major at Manhattan, he held a variety of part-time jobs — in a grocery store, a flower shop and as a night engineer during the completion of the Lincoln Tunnel.
After earning his degree, Jim accepted a position with Interstate General of Chicago. One of his projects brought him back to Puerto Rico, where he met Barbara. Marrying in 1957, they remained in the territory to raise their six children, three of whom went on to represent Puerto Rico in the Olympics: Thomas as an equestrian at Seoul in 1988; and Kevin and Mary in skiing at Calgary in 1988. Another daughter, Elizabeth, competed in dressage for Puerto Rico at the 1983 Pan American Games.
Shortly after marrying, Jim left his job to establish Interstate General Contractors. The company flourished, building shopping centers, apartment towers and offices throughout the island. In 1968, the company purchased property in Maryland to create the town of St. Charles, a planned community. The family moved to a farm in nearby Virginia, where Jim successfully raised prizewinning thoroughbreds. In 1987, Jim took the business — now known as Interstate General Company LP — public after 30 years of private ownership.
A former chair at Presbyterian Hospital in Puerto Rico, Jim held many volunteer positions — as a trustee of the Kennedy Center National Symphony Orchestra; director of Virginia’s Middleburg Community Center; and secretary of the Chesapeake Presidents Organization, among others. As a Manhattan trustee from 1988 to 1999, Jim helped steward his alma mater’s successful transformation to a mainly residential college. He and Barbara also generously supported scholarships and other major initiatives at Manhattan, where their son, J. Michael ’89, and granddaughter, Elena ’20, also studied.
“Without question, Jim was one of this College’s giants,” notes President Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D. “His knowledge and leadership helped to ensure that Manhattan not only survived, but grew and prospered during an especially turbulent period for higher education. We are forever grateful for his many remarkable contributions, in every sense.”