The Colgate Scene
January 2004

People on the go

Chris Lane '94 and his wife, Robin.
[Photo courtesy of Kaleida Health Care]
Still a team player

When he was 21 years old, Chris Lane '94 couldn't have told you what he wanted to do with his life after Colgate.

"[Health care] was always on my radar screen, but I never really knew," said Lane, a former starting quarterback for the Raiders football team. "I knew I wanted some sort of business career and I knew I wanted to deal [closely] with people as well."

A lot can happen in 10 years.

The former political science major and Delta Upsilon member was recently awarded Modern Health Care magazine's "Up and Comers" award, given annually to 12 rising leaders making notable contributions in health care.

Lane currently serves as president of DeGraff Memorial Community Hospital in Tonawanda, N.Y., just outside of Buffalo. He is a vice president at Kaleida Health Care, the largest health care provider in the region, serving more than one million patients each year between the five hospitals. His achievements in these positions, in conjunction with six years of experience at hospitals in Massachusetts, garnered him the recognition.

Lane does not think he has done anything to warrant the type of recognition his new award singles him out for. He believes that real heroes are not sports figures or actors who live in the spotlight but the people who work together behind the scenes to improve society.

"I'm only one part of a very complex team that delivers good health care every day," Lane said. "We can't be successful alone; we depend on each other."

Perhaps the most significant common thread between being an effective quarterback and a successful president of a 100-bed acute-care hospital is leadership, Lane believes. His award nomination cites his "outstanding leadership solutions" as a result of his "inherent ability to simply provide the human touch often lacking in administrative communications."

Throughout his career, Lane has shown a keen ability to take substandard health care facilities and transform them into "deficiency-free" operations. After graduating, Lane, through the help of a family friend, became an administrator for Olympus Healthcare in Westboro, Mass. He completely revamped the facility in less than two years. He also was integral in opening an Olympus care unit in south Boston. During the next two years, Lane, as executive director for Beverly Healthcare in Manchester, Mass., helped to turn around two long-term care facilities that had not been performing up to standard.

Lane then took a position as administrator at a Worcester, Mass. facility that was riddled with operational problems, low morale, and poor community relations. Within one year, Lane increased the facility's revenue, established new relationships with the community, initiated a $2 million renovation project, and watched profits exceed expectations.

In February 2003, Lane was recruited for his current position at DeGraff, where he is responsible for the day-to-day activities of the hospital and managing its $40 million operations budget. "It's my job to ensure we have a fully functional, quality hospital that's viable for the future," stated Lane. "We are very involved with the community because DeGraff must mirror the public health needs of the area it serves in order be a valuable resource."

At the heart of Lane's success is his interaction with his employees, a blend of administrator and mentor. "The simple truth is that Chris Lane comes from a solid background where people are the priority and business balances the demands of human need with compassion and quality care," said his award citation. "He is a hands-on administrator who takes the time to know the people he is leading one person at a time because he truly cares about them."

According to Lane, most of his ability to interact and communicate effectively with people he learned at Colgate, and not just in the classroom but also in his fraternity and on the football field.

"[I love] knowing what we do as a team makes a difference in people's lives. I think that's the most important part of my job," said Lane. "It's not like there's a tangible product. We are working with people at a vulnerable time in their lives, so quality, compassionate care is crucial and can really make an impact on how they respond." — Jess Buchsbaum '03

Matt Christensen '92 and Sarah Clawson Rio '96 [Photo by Paul Cooper]
A new vision of capitalism

As Europe redefines itself for the 21st century, Matt Christensen '92 stands at the juncture of the continent's nonprofit, education, and business worlds.

Christensen is executive director of Eurosif (European Sustainable and Responsible Investment Forum), a nonprofit organization representing social investment forums from France, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the German-speaking countries in Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg).

Socially responsible investment (SRI) -- also known as sustainable and responsible investment -- is an investment philosophy that considers a business's social, environmental, and ethical performance as well as financial performance. SRI is of growing significance when making investment decisions for two basic reasons, Christensen asserts.

"First, an individual or institutional investor may want to take account of their personal or organizational values as well as their financial requirements. This approach is more commonly taken by the church and charity investors and by individuals, he said. "Second, investors may adopt SRI policies because it makes financial sense. In a world where shareholder value is increasingly dependent on intangibles like brand and management quality, it may make more sense to look at social, environmental, and ethical performance indicators as well as traditional indicators."

Christensen works with owners of publicly held stock who are trying to make portfolios based on returns, analyzing the performance of the companies they invest in. He works to ensure that these companies make good returns, and their stocks subsequently increase. These investments are socially and environmentally mindful, and thus these companies "make money in a sustainable way," he said.

"Eurosif is trying to foster a shareholder culture by communicating the benefits of socially responsible investment. This helps people to better understand capitalism and how they can be positively involved in it from an investor perspective. By doing so, it also encourages more accountability to private enterprise by having corporations be more transparent and more accountable for their social and environmental policies," Christensen said.

As executive director, Christensen's position is a mix of drafting legislation, lobbying, and education. His educational outreach efforts are extensive, and include trade unions, nonprofits, large pension fund owners, asset managers, consumers, and governments.

Christensen works with ministers of the European Parliament to draft laws that promote economic growth but are also mindful of the social and environmental concerns of many Europeans. The lawmakers listen because Eurosif's company membership represents assets of roughly 600 billion euros.

"It's everyone. It's civil society. That's what makes my job so interesting. I'm really at the middle point between watching national sovereignty deal with this European-wide evolution. It's like what I used to read about in history books, watching U.S. states yield to national sovereignty," he said.

Christensen became the executive director in October 2002. At the time, Eurosif had only five people representing five European forums, and sought someone to manage the overall operation. At first, Christensen was skeptical he would even get the job.

"I thought the American passport would kill my candidacy. But I convinced them that being an American was not a detriment but an asset, as I was a neutral position in Europe. I'm not from any of the countries in the European Union, but I knew a lot about them, so I was a neutral party," he says.

Since starting at Eurosif, Christensen has hired another Colgate graduate, Sarah Clawson Rio '96. Her experience in France as a Fulbright scholar, fluency in French and involvement with Amnesty International while at Colgate attracted Clawson Rio to Eurosif.

"Working at Eurosif has allowed me to combine several parts of who I am and how I see the world -- several of which were developed at Colgate. Eurosif successfully brings together an activist-type [mindset] with a business-like approach, which strengthens our ability to exchange knowledge with the [SRI] community," Clawson Rio said.

Christensen attributes his success to his time at Colgate, and to his international MBA, which exposed him to the international community. The San Francisco native majored in international relations and Spanish, was active in the International Relations Council, and spent his junior year in Madrid, focusing his studies on the European Union and economic integration.

"Madrid opened my eyes. It was a tremendous opportunity to see what was going to happen over the next 20 to 50 years in terms of building an integrated Europe without borders," said Christensen. "That's what gave me the desire to live and work abroad." — Jess Buchsbaum '03

Raider co-captain John Frieser '04, left, recipient of the prestigious National Scholar-Athlete Postgraduate Scholarship Award, helped promote the Colgate football / U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program with local veteran Howard Snyder and co-captain Tembwe Lukabu '04.
[Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

When it comes to being a scholar-athlete, John Frieser '04 could write the playbook. In fact, the sociology and anthropology major, who is one of the most respected members of the 2003 Raider football team, is writing a senior honors thesis on the culture of college football.

"I want to see the roles that athletes have as students and how they negotiate those roles, and then compare their experiences," he said. "I'm going to interview players from Division I, Division I-AA, and Division III programs. I want to find out if there's an athletic culture, whether [players] branch out and interact with other people or stay within their own tight-knit community."

Characterizing Frieser as an exceptional student who writes beautifully and has an innate ability to grasp abstract, difficult ideas, Rhonda Levine, professor of sociology and Frieser's academic adviser, described the sophisticated level to which he is taking that honors project. "John is tying into the debate going on nationally about the commodification of student-athletes and whether they may be losing out on the full college experience. He's doing an incredible job."

Frieser's own experiences, on the gridiron and in the classroom, will surely expand his insight as he develops his thesis. A three-year starter for the Raiders, the tight end has twice earned first team all-Patriot League recognition and has been named to the CoSIDA District I Academic All-America team three times. He was named to the Athletics Directors' Association Academic Team in 2002 and is a three-time member of the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll, a member of Lambda Alpha and Phi Eta Sigma national honor societies, and a six-time recipient of the Dean's Award.

And this fall, Frieser became only the third Raider ever to be awarded the National Scholar-Athlete Postgraduate Scholarship Award from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, joining Angelo Colosimo '80 and Tom Stenglein '86. Recipients of the award not only must be excellent students, but also outstanding athletes, noted Head Football Coach Dick Biddle. "In my estimation, John is one of the best football players to ever play at Colgate," he said. "He's very serious, driven, and sharp. Everyone looks up to him, even the coaches. When he says something, his teammates listen."

Asked to characterize his own game-day dynamic, Frieser said, "I'm not the kind of guy who jumps around and gets real fired up. I get some butterflies, but once the game starts, it's so much fun. All the nervousness goes away and I just enjoy playing." He likes being a tight end because "it's a unique position offensively. I'm up on the line, so I have to do a lot of blocking for the running backs, but I also get to run out and catch passes." (Regarded as a legitimate pass-catching threat, by early December he'd caught 62 passes for 915 yards, including nine touchdown passes, during his college career.)

Revealing the humility Biddle says is a key component of his character, Frieser mentioned how surprised he was to learn he'd received the national scholarship award. "It's cool to be able to accept this kind of honor, and it's nice to see all my hard work come to fruition," he added.

In addition to successfully balancing athletics and academics, Frieser has also found time to be a Helping Hands volunteer and tutor at Madison Central School, serve on the university's student-athlete advisory committee, and participate in blood drives and special events for local children sponsored by Phi Delta Theta fraternity, which he joined last year.

"The tutoring was a great experience for me," he said. "My mom baby-sat when I was growing up, so I've always liked being around kids. I'm also interested in becoming a social studies teacher, so I wanted to get out there and help any way I could."

Frieser is keeping his post-Colgate options open, but is considering using the national scholarship award towards a master of arts in teaching at Binghamton University, near his hometown of Endwell, N.Y.

At press time, Frieser was ecstatic about the Raiders' win over UMass in the first round of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs at Andy Kerr Stadium. "I love the program here. I love the coaching staff, and the mix of academics and athletics. I get a lot out of both. I've had a great experience here." — RAC

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