Alumni Stories

Jul 17

Chairman of the Board

July 17, 2018 | 12:06 pm
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He is forthright, doesn’t mince words and has a firm grasp of what needs to get done. For nearly four decades, Albert L. Salvatico ’68, Chairman of the Board, has played a prominent role in shaping the mission of Cardinal Hayes High School. The self-assured and shrewd businessman is often reluctant to be in the spotlight, but for the first time in his tenure he, has agreed to be interviewed. Salvatico, dressed in a well-tailored black suit, crisp white shirt and crimson colored tie embodied the consummate executive. When he sat down, his manner and presence began to shift from Salvatico the Chairman of the Board to Salvatico the hometown guy. He spoke with ease and reverence about the times that truly shaped the very essence of who he is as a father, grandfather, brother and undoubtedly a Hayesman.

The son of Italian immigrants, Salvatico and his three siblings grew up in a tight knit community on Decatur Avenue in the South Bronx. His parents worked tirelessly to ensure the success of their children. Like many families of his generation, they were staunch proponents of Catholic education. So, when a teacher from P.S. 46 suggested that he attend parochial school, his parents realized it would be in his best interest. After graduating from Our Lady of Refuge School, he followed many of his neighborhood friends to Cardinal Hayes High School. At Hayes, Salvatico found that Monsignor Thomas McCormack and Father Francis Principe had a no nonsense approach to handling students. Their disciplinary tactics and strict rules steered him in the right direction, especially when he proved to be disagreeable. “When I walked through the doors at Cardinal Hayes for the first time, I was intimidated. The building was massive. There were 500 plus freshman and almost 2400 students in total. It was well beyond what I knew. Father McCormack was the Dean of Discipline at the time and he ruled with an iron hand. He was about 6’3’’ an ex-marine and never smiled. I will never forget there was a parent session, McCormack gets on stage and said, ‘Parents, I welcome your sons to the school. We are happy to have your boys here. There is one rule that you have to understand. When they are in this building they are ours. We set the rules. There are no exceptions to the rule. If you are not happy at any point in time take your boys out.’ When my mother left the session that was it.”

The transition to Hayes proved to be overwhelming at times. His freshman year, he failed two subjects which led him to study hall in jug. Fathers Healy, Principe, and Robertson would often reprimand him for failing exams and remind the young Salvatico how hard his parents worked to send him to Hayes. “Even when you screwed up, the priests in particular would take you aside. They paid attention to what you were doing. What I got out of Hayes was self-discipline. They taught me how to relate to the outside world and how to be a man. That was very important.” During his time at Hayes, Salvatico learned that Catholic education would play a vital role in his emotional and intellectual development. “By senior year I was seventh out of 500 in my class and 26th overall. I don’t say this to pat myself on the back. I reached that critical juncture where I could have been a screw up. I redirected myself and did the right thing. I got a Regents Scholarship and a National Defense Grant my senior year. As a result, my four years of college were totally paid for.”

After graduating from Hayes, Salvatico attended Fordham University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in American History. He married and eventually had two children. In the early 1970s, Salvatico honed his business skills at the Continental Insurance Company and Marsh & McLennan, Incorporated. At M&M, he represented major financial institutions and U.S. Corporations with professional liability insurance policies. As he worked up the corporate ladder, Salvatico spent nights earning an MBA in Accounting and Financial Control at the prestigious Stern School of Business at NYU. In 1986, he co-founded ARC Excess & Surplus, LLC. The company became the largest specialty wholesale liability broker in the country. Several years later, he expanded his successful entrepreneurial endeavors by creating Jaral Properties, Inc., a Long Island based development firm that manages mid-size hotels.

It had been over a decade since Salvatico walked the halls of Hayes. In 1982, a phone call from Neil Sullivan ‘59, would bring him back to his alma mater. Sullivan explained that he and Monsignor McCormack wanted to see him. During their meeting at Salvatico’s Wall Street office, McCormack described the challenges that the administration faced with keeping the school open. “Al, things have really changed since you were here. The population has turned over. Enrollment is down. The population can’t afford to send their boys to Hayes. Unless we do something dramatic we are not going to make it.” McCormack proposed the idea of doing a fundraiser on Wall Street to help address the growing financial issues. Within that time, Monsignor McCormack was reassigned to another parish, so Father Graham stepped into his role as leader of Cardinal Hayes.

In 1984, they launched their first capital campaign with Father Graham, George Carteris ‘71 and John Ranieri ‘72. They raised a million dollars in a year and a half. Father Graham came up with the idea of creating the Cardinal and Gold Fund as an extension of what Monsignor McCormack had started. It was at this critical turning point that Father Graham approached Salvatico about being president of the newly formed fund. “One day Father Graham came to me and said, ‘I want you to be on the board and I want you to be president.’ I said, ‘you know what you are asking for is trouble. You have to let me do what I need to do.’” By 1989, he was officially President of The Cardinal & Gold Fund. He enlisted the help of John Duffy ‘67, Kevin Meenan ’73, Mike Johnson ‘75, Fred Casey ‘56 and Adrian Mahoney ’52 at Merrill Lynch to establish a more cohesive board. The newly formed board was populated with experienced money managers who were well versed in handling the daily operations of an organization.

In 2000, the board launched the Millennium Campaign and raised $10 million. With key members in place, Salvatico knew he had a formidable team ready to handle the future of Cardinal Hayes. He became Chairman of the Board in 2010. Over the years, Salvatico has received many accolades and praise from his peers and the Hayes administration for his level of dedication and support. In the early 90s, Salvatico was inducted in the Cardinal Hayes Hall of Fame. At the Cardinal Hayes 75th Anniversary Gala, he was honored for his years of leadership and service to the Hayes community. On Saturday, June 2nd, Salvatico will be part of another wonderful milestone. He will celebrate his 50th high school anniversary. Members of the Class of 1968 will walk down the aisle of St. Patrick’s Cathedral as they did half a century ago.

Salvatico is quick to give credit to his fellow board members who helped him guide the school towards prosperity and growth. “When you look at the complexion of the board today and you look at the people on there, I will tell you that there are corporations who don’t have a board like we have. They are spectacular people. They are committed people and it has been eight years later and we’ve accomplished amazing things and worked effectively. I can’t take credit for that.”

Another member of the administration whom Salvatico has admired is Principal Bill Lessa. “Bill’s 46 years of service has been absolutely incredible.” Salvatico emphasized that Hayes is blessed with an extraordinary array of successful alumni. As he looks to the future, he is interested in seeing a deeper level of involvement from younger alumni. “I would like to see more engagement from recent generations of Hayesmen. Someone gave them a hand up, and as I look at it, someone gave me a hand up. Now they have to give a hand up. I understand there are challenges both familial and economic. I am hoping as these boys mature and become economically more self-sufficient that they remember where they came from and say, ‘Let me help that young man.’

Salvatico has a great deal to be proud of. Under his leadership, the proud Hayes legacy is firmly intact. The values that are part of the Hayes ethos continue to produce some of the best and brightest students 77 years later. Salvatico has demonstrated that service, honor and brotherhood are the discernible traits of a true Hayesmen.