For Frank Russo '68, It's All About Connections
By Mark Tarnacki, Staff Writer
Frank Russo's job of managing some of the world's largest public—assembly facilities-high-profile civic and collegiate arenas—amounts to "putting a puzzle together, knowing how it should all fit and making sense of it." That's a skill he developed as a student at Saint Michael's, notably with guidance from government professor Cleveland Williams, who sparked his initial interest in public administration before lending advice and connections that led to Frank's career path.
"The key is research, whether you're doing a paper for a college history class or responding to a bid to manage a facility," Frank says. "It's about connecting the dots and finding a way to get the right answer and the winning 'grade'—a contract. The method works."
Frank prefers sharing his time and financial resources with things that are important to him. Besides co-chairing his class's recent 45th Reunion, Frank has been faithful with his annual fund gift for decades and, years ago, he established a trust that leaves a percentage of his estate to the College. "I want to leave a legacy at the institution that played such an important role in my life. It's no more complicated than that. There's a reward in knowing that this is a proven worthy cause. Saint Michael's College puts the money to great use so they deserve to have it."
Frank is a senior vice president for Global Spectrum, which manages buildings worldwide and recently closed a deal to run the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, a building Frank played a large role in keeping solvent early in his career. He applies sound business practices to end public-sector inefficiencies.
After graduation, Frank landed a job with Connecticut's Department for Community Affairs, which he parlayed into work for the City of Hartford. Promoted to assistant city manager by 1974, he would use his skill as a trumpet player to land a spot with the 76th Division Army Reserve Band for almost six years, thanks to an offer from a client who was both a town manager and the commanding officer of the 76th Division Army Reserve Battalion.
Frank's greatest accomplishment in college was meeting his wife, Andrea, a Jeanne Manse nursing student. He is also proud of helping author the first textbook in his chosen field. "At heart, I'm an arena manager," he says. Before Global Spectrum took him around the world, "he ran largely government-owned arenas, convention centers, stadiums and theaters for people who wanted them run like a business."
Frank feels that Saint Michael's does a great job of keeping in touch, providing opportunities to be involved and showing alumni the results of their giving.
"It's very rewarding," he says, citing campus improvements, strong academics and a sound Catholic tradition that has adapted meaningfully to the modern world. "Saint Michael's provides a sense of tradition and belonging no matter how many years we've been away. That's why I do all I can for the College. I may live in Connecticut but I feel like I have come home whenever I visit Saint Mike's."
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