Talking with … Lonnie Kussin
Interviews | Apr 21, 2016 | Gabelli School of Business
By Victoria Cleveland, BS ’18
Assistant Dean of Graduate Advising Lonnie Kussin has had an unusual career track. Below, he explains how he made the transition from working in sports to advising college students.
Q. Tell us about your job and what you do at the Gabelli School of Business.
A. I am an academic adviser for the MS in Taxation, MS in Accounting, and the five-year programs, which entail tax, accounting, and five-year MBA students. I also work closely with the Student Advisory Council, as well as with 21 graduate-level clubs.
Q. What did you do before working at Fordham?
A. I worked in sports, sales and marketing. I worked for the New York Islanders for four years, and I also worked for the Yankees Radio Network.
As an undergrad, I studied business administration and marketing at Cornell University. I’m from Long Island originally, so living anywhere else [after college] never even occurred to me.
When I was working at the Islanders, it was when the economy was at a downturn, so they laid off a lot of people. I was originally in the sales and marketing area, and they needed me to work on some of the finance and accounting stuff, too, because they needed extra help there. I started to find myself very interested in finance, so I decided that in order to continue working in that area, I needed to get my MBA. I had a boss there who went to Fordham and pushed me to go to Fordham.
I was a graduate assistant with Judy Paul, who is now our director of finance and administration, but she was in career management back then. She really helped me get involved with the school and the administration. [Assistant Dean] Ilze Frierson also helped to get me involved as well.
When I was graduating, a spot opened up in Ilze’s group, and Judy and Ilze pushed me to apply for that position.
I find higher education much more enjoyable. I had an amazing experience in sports and I would never trade it for anything. It has actually helped me a ton here. It taught me to manage my time effectively and multitask well. In sports, they work you long hours. You also build up thick skin because you get yelled at all the time. A lot of the skills I learned over there I was able to bring here. It’s shocking how relatable it is.
I have been working at Fordham since 2012.
Q. Do you enjoy working with students? And what do you find surprising or interesting about it?
A. That’s the best part of the whole job. Our students are extremely humble, very intelligent, very hardworking. I admire every one of them. Every day I learn something new and exciting about somebody. Just having the opportunity to meet new people motivates me every day.
The Fordham student is different from anything I’ve ever encountered. Where I went for my undergrad was very competitive. It’s not like that here.
Q. What do you like to do in your time away from work?
A. I am a big sports fan still. I’m a big Islander fan; that’s why I worked there. I like to play sports. I play basketball. I’m with my dog all the time, my Jack Russell … and I guess I should say my wife, also. My wife and my dog and I — the three of us are always together. My family means a lot to me.
Q. What is your favorite part about the job?
A. I love working with my colleagues: Kate Kennon, Ariane Saney, Kit Thayer, Ilze Frierson, Lawrence Murray, Francis Petit and Roxanne Bonilla. Working with them, aside from being with the students, is the best part of the job. Francis is [our former] supervisor, but he still works in our office. He had the biggest influence; I really look up to the way he conducts himself.
Q. What is the worst part?
A. When the students graduate. You develop a close relationship with the students, and then they leave and some of them aren’t even in Manhattan, so it’s hard to keep in touch.
Q. What food is your guilty pleasure?
A. I am obsessed with grapefruits.
Q. What is your favorite movie?
A. Forrest Gump.
Q. Where is the farthest place you’ve traveled?
Q. What famous person would you most like to have lunch with?
A. John Wooden.
Q. What is your favorite spot in New York City?
A. The dog hill at Central Park. Before 9 a.m., you can take your dog off the leash, so I would take my dog there on weekends.