That One Mentor Who Points the Way

A former URI communications staffer remembers his mentor, Tom Falciglia ’45.

I remember Tom Falciglia ’45 as a wonderful mentor and one-of-a-kind friend. And it was through Tom that I met my wife, Christine (Tina) Stuczyk Petrosemolo ’69, M.S, ’73, who graced one of the (then) URI Alumni Magazine covers during the time when I edited the publication from 1969–72.

Tom Falciglia ’45

In 1968, Tom was serving as alumni director at his alma mater and was hiring a staff member as magazine editor, a job that had been coordinated by the publications office and Polly Matzinger.

I was four years out of Springfield College with a master’s degree from UMass and had held short-lived, uninspiring jobs in the corporate and education worlds. I was hungry to start a real career in higher education and I think Tom saw that. I was a writer with no magazine editing experience, but Tommy saw something in me he liked and hired me.

For three years, we worked together on fundraising, reunion, and marketing projects that I was excited to help with as I learned the business, all the while editing the magazine, which we published every other month. I worked with supportive colleagues including Charlie Hall (development), Jim Leslie (public relations), Jim Goff (film and media), Bob Izzo (photography), Carol McCabe (communications), Matzinger, and others in what today would be called a PR/marketing office.

In just three years under Tom’s tutelage, I was ready for my next step and accepted the University of Massachusetts’ alumni director position. It was a transitional era at UMass and the position was nowhere near as fun as working for Tom. But with Tom’s guidance, I had learned the higher education business well and my career blossomed and led to stops at Franklin and Marshall, Dartmouth, a fortune 500 company, and Fairleigh Dickinson, where I finished my career as chief communications officer and assistant to the president.

In everyone’s career there is the one mentor who points the way, and Tom did that for me. Sadly our paths had not crossed for 30 years when someone forwarded his obituary a few months back. I stopped then, took a deep breath and let memories from those years wash over me. I took a moment to say out loud, “Thanks again, Tom. You started me on my way. I’ll never forget you.”

—Arthur Petrosemolo