Two alumni awarded honorary doctorates














Alfred University Commencement 2013 was a significant occasion for two alumni - a class year apart - whose career paths have taken similar turns. Each of them was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from their alma mater May 18. 

Robert H. Benmosche, a 1966 graduate who is currently CEO of American International Group Incorporated (AIG), was awarded an honorary Doctor of Business degree, honoris causa. A Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, was bestowed upon Peter Cuneo, a 1967 alumnus who is completing a six-year tenure as chairman of the AU Board of Trustees.

Both men are known for their acumen in turning struggling companies into thriving enterprises. Benmosche is credited with rescuing MetLife, and taking it public, then several years later was called out of retirement to lead AIG back to solvency after the national financial crisis of 2008. Cuneo is best known for leading the turnaround of Marvel Comics from a bankrupt comic book publisher to an entertainment industry giant. 

Before joining MetLife, Benmosche spent more than 13 years at PaineWebber Group Incorporated, where he served in several capacities, including senior vice president of marketing; chief financial officer of the Retail Brokerage Division; and as executive vice president from 1989-1995, serving as the head of operations and technology and director and sales manager for over 1,500 retail investment advisors.  He also directed the merger of Kidder Peabody into PaineWebber in 1994.  Earlier in his career, Benmosche was a Chase Manhattan Bank vice president and a staff consultant with Arthur D. Little.

Cuneo tallied seven turnarounds of distressed businesses in the global media and consumer products sectors prior to his Marvel maneuvers. Currently, Cuneo is managing principal of Cuneo & Company, a private investment and management company he owns in partnership with his sons Gavin and Colin. They focus on making investments in private companies within the consumer, retail and entertainment-oriented industries.

Benmosche was also the keynote Commencement speaker. He urged the new graduates to begin with a vision but “deal with the hand that’s been dealt you.” And though that “may be a tough hand, it’s adjustable.” He noted “the economy is stronger than you think” and urged the graduates to go forward with a “sense of optimism.”  

More than 350 undergraduate, master’s, advanced studies certificate, and doctoral candidates (including those who earned degrees in August and December 2012) were awarded Alfred University degrees during exercises in the McLane Center on campus. Presiding over the festivities was Dr. Charles M. Edmondson, Alfred University president.

See the complete video of AU’s 2013 Commencement ceremony.

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