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Table of Contents

Six(ty) Degrees of St. Lawrence
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Alumni Accomplishments

Magazine Cover

Six(ty) Degrees of St. Lawrence

The magazine staff was brainstorming one day and started to play the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” but with one important difference: We substituted St. Lawrence for the movie star (with whom there probably is a connection to St. Lawrence; he probably knows Kirk Douglas ’39 and Viggo Mortensen’80…) and pretty soon, we realized that one could link thousands of students, faculty, staff and alumni in an impossibly long, and amazingly strong, St. Lawrence chain. So here it is. We start with the new student government president, and we loop back to him at the end. We could have gone on forever. Follow our chain, maybe create one of your own.

George Williams ’03, newly elected president of Thelmo, has ambitious goals for his tenure. “Thelmo does a great job; we hope more people will come to realize that,” he says. As a member of the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)) and Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) initiatives, Williams, who grew up in the Bronx, has found a network that supports his success at St. Lawrence University. “I have faced a few challenges…being one of a few minorities on campus or balancing school work, jobs and my personal life. I have great friends and they help me through tough times,” Williams says. One of those who helps him by serving on Thelmo with him is…

Cassandra “Casey” Peterson ’03, vice president of University Relations for Thelmo and a member of the women’s hockey team, a community assistant, the business manager of The Hill News and a Web designer for the University communications office. She says she enjoys being involved on campus because she gets to meet new people, she has to manage her time efficiently, and the groups she is involved with are different so she is never doing the same thing. Casey loves the connections, saying, “I can’t go anywhere on campus without seeing someone I know.” As a combined math and economics major, Casey especially appreciates her professors. She says, “I never expected before coming here that the professors would be so great. They promote personal growth big-time and they’re fun too.” She has played hockey all her life, as has one of her teammates, fellow North Country native…

Colleen Coakley ’02, who believes the factor that most positively influenced her experience at St. Lawrence is the University’s relatively small size. “In addition to hockey, I play varsity and intramural softball,” she says. Colleen is a tour guide for the admissions office and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa; with a GPA that puts her near the top of her class, she will graduate Phi Beta Kappa. A double major in history and psychology, she is conducting an honors project in sport psychology. “The chance to be involved in so many aspects of campus life has greatly enhanced my St. Lawrence experience,” says Colleen. Colleen’s cousin…

Sean Coakley ’01 was a goalie for the Skating Saints and went on to play professionally and volunteer coach with this year’s goalies, both freshmen. Hockey, he says, has been a failsafe way to connect with Laurentians. To begin with, there’s the team itself—“these are guys I’ll always stay in touch with,” he says. “It was wonderful to see alumni in the stands and talk to them after the games,” he adds. Then there are the moms and dads. “I don’t know if the parents realize how much the players appreciate their being there, especially for the road games,” Sean says. “Some of them put a lot of miles on their cars, rarely missing a game.” One of those was Sean’s father…

Tom Coakley, the University’s vice president of administrative operations. “With Sean joining the family line of alumni (which includes Tom’s Dad, Robert ’38; his aunt, Class Reporter Mary Coakley Ferris ’41; brother Bill ’82; and daughter Kristen ’96), I cannot help but think like a parent in my work here. It’s more than personal for many people, though,” says Tom. A native of Canton, he returned to the North Country after graduating from Brown University, serving in the Vietnam War, and taking his MBA at The Wharton School. He joined the St. Lawrence faculty as an accounting teacher (one of his students was Kim Whitehead Puckett ’86, but more on Kim later), shifting into administration in the late 1980s. Tom now supervises such areas as facilities operations, dining services and construction management.

Despite the amazing boom in activities in construction since Daniel F. Sullivan became president, Tom points to the devastating 1998 ice storm as one of St. Lawrence’s finest moments. “It was overwhelming how everyone came together to put this place back on its feet,” says Tom.
If there is one thing that “petrifies” him, it’s computer failures. That’s where a personal and professional connection with…

Collen Knickerbocker comes in handy. While he was associate dean of faculty affairs, Knickerbocker served on an information technology management team with Tom Coakley for two years before becoming vice president of information technology in 1998. Last fall, he returned to teaching. Being part of the senior administration gave Collen frequent contact with trustees, alumni, faculty and staff, but, he says, he began to miss the students. As a mathematics and computer science professor he enjoys interacting with current and former students. Although Collen knew St. Lawrence, with its friendly faces, was for him as soon as he stepped on campus, he says his daughter,

Leah Knickerbocker ’04, vowed to him and his wife at age 4 that she was never going to attend St. Lawrence. She obviously changed her mind and her father is quite happy that Leah eventually came to agree with him. “One of the reasons I decided to come to St. Lawrence was the people,” she says. “My professors are especially open and always want to talk to students.”

In addition to the receptive faculty, Leah also found a new sport. “I figure-skated for years, but horseback riding was always a wish,” she explains. “I thought I would try it at college for a month.” She now rides competitively with the equestrian team. Leah also runs cross-country, is a house manager at Gulick Theatre, and is an Outdoor Program guide, after taking the fall 2001 semester as a participant in the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) program.

Robin Baker ’92 also took up equestrian when she arrived at St. Lawrence, and after graduation, she purchased her horse and now rides almost every weekend in the Virginia countryside where her parents reside. Robin, an English literature major, works in public relations and lives in Washington, D.C., but much of her focus continues to be on St. Lawrence. She volunteers for career planning, as a Laurentian Admissions Associate and as co-chair of her 10th reunion and, since June 2001, she has served on the Alumni Executive Council with…

Jon Wheeler ’80, who completes his two-year tenure as president of the Alumni Executive Council this spring. Jon is president of the Hartford, Conn., firm Axiom 8, a company that designs “the only integrated communications software on the Internet.” Jon used the St. Lawrence network as he and his partners developed their business, which was launched in spring 2000. Networking comes naturally to him; Jon (and his wife Nan Eppolito ’81) is a member of a multi-generational Laurentian family that includes more than 20 people, among them his late grandparents Nathan ’15 and Geraldine Wheeler ’15, his late uncle John Merrill ’41, his uncle Richard ’47, his parents Marilyn Merrill Wheeler ’45 and Platt Wheeler ’44, his brothers David ’67 and Richard ’70, and his nieces Kathleen Wheeler DeParde ’91 and Ellen Wheeler ’91.

Platt Wheeler ’44, a retired school administrator in Fayetteville, N.Y., can rightly claim responsibility for many prospective students finding their way to St. Lawrence. “When I started teaching American history in 1948, I started pushing kids to St. Lawrence,” he says. “It was, and is, a small school where you can get a great education.” Platt remembers especially Gary Gibson ’62 (also a member of the current Alumni Council) as someone who found success and direction here; they still keep in touch. Platt passed along his passion for the University and for helping high school students determine the right match for their own aspirations to his son David ’67, who retired last spring as principal of the Wellwood Middle School, in the Fayetteville-Manlius School District. Before “retiring” (he has since accepted the principalship of Holy Cross School in Syracuse and teaches education courses at Lemoyne College), David hired

Ed Kupiec ’00 as a middle school and high school physical education teacher. One of the important lessons Ed learned as a student at St. Lawrence was that “leadership and service come in a variety of forms; there is no ‘cookie cutter’ definition. Some lead by initiative, some by direction, others by example.” It is a lesson he applied very well, in and out of class. Ed majored in psychology and sport & leisure studies with a minor in education, graduating summa cum laude. “I had great experiences with all of my professors,” says Ed, a track standout and RA who was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. “I also found that serving as student delegate to the Alumni Executive Council, with Jon Wheeler, in my senior year was a great opportunity.” Immediately after graduation, he entered St. Lawrence’s master’s program and got hooked on teaching. Just as he practiced leadership in his student days, Ed is keeping his connections to St. Lawrence University alive in many ways: “I volunteer to work local college fairs and conduct alumni interviews to make a connection with future Laurentians.” “Involved” describes Ed Kupiec, as it does

Kristen Sadue ’04, who has turned her own passion for psychology and economics into a double major. Kristen, from Gouverneur, N.Y., has this advice to new students: “Find out what you’re interested in and get involved. For me, being part of Dance Ensemble, Habitat for Humanity and Kappa Delta Sigma has helped me mature greatly as a person. I’m also meeting a ton of people and making connections all over campus.” Having these connections has made Kristen feel comfortable knowing there is always someone to point her in the right direction.

One of those people is Melissa Wordelmann ’04, Kristen’s friend since freshman year when they were in the same first-year college, and now her roommate. But while Kristen is slide librarian for University communications, Melissa is an admissions tour guide. Her favorite place to show visitors is Herring-Cole with its precious stained glass windows. “Having a modern state-of-the-art sports facility and a gem like Herring-Cole within a few blocks of each other shows that St. Lawrence respects its past yet is striving for a better future,” she observes. “St. Lawrence has exceeded my expectations--it’s academically demanding, but there is a right balance between challenge and motivation.” She was initially attracted by the fine reputation of St. Lawrence’s economics program, in which she now majors with a minor in psychology. A fellow economics major is

Part 2