It was in June 1960 – over fifty years ago - when my Bentley Journey began. That was when I passed the admission exam to gain entrance into what was known then as the Bentley School of Accounting and Finance, a two-year business school.
My story officially commenced when I became a member of the freshman class in September of that year. In a very real sense, my interest in academics prior to Bentley was not strong. Somehow, at Bentley, I found myself fully engaged in learning. I was challenged, like never before, but worked hard enough to achieve at a high level.
As I approached the completion of my associate’s degree in the second year, Bentley was granted accreditation to become Bentley College. My timing was very fortuitous. I quickly decided to continue on and worked toward my Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. I also became increasingly involved in student government. Because I was a commuting student, I often took the bus from Harvard Square to Bentley on Boylston Street. On occasion, I would sit across from professor (and future president), Greg Adamian. He would be correcting papers; I would be doing homework. Our friendship began then and continued on the next fifty years or so.
In addition to my school work, with the help of Bentley, I got a terrific part-time night job at the Boston Garden being the timekeeper for the “bull gang” – the group that changed the garden floor from basketball to hockey to track, etc. In my student leadership activities, I had become acquainted with Edward Powers, a Bentley Trustee, who was President of the Boston Garden. I worked every night when there was a changeover from one sport to another. A couple of times a year, when the Garden was hosting a major track meet, I would recruit dozens of Bentley classmates to work an “all nighter” at the Garden to set up for track. The money was good and many of my classmates needed it, as I sure did too.
The Class of 1964, of which I was class president, was the first to be granted a BSA degree from Bentley College. Our class experienced a great many of other “Bentley Firsts”, including first senior week, first class ring, first yearbook (as freshmen), first class officers (as juniors), first class mascot and several others. The Falcon Society was founded in 1964 and I was honored to be the first student inducted into it.
Upon graduation, through the career office at Bentley, I was able to get a job as credit analyst at State Street Bank. Up until hiring me, State Street had only taken Ivy League graduates into their credit-training program. My Bentley education gave me a real edge as a credit analyst and I succeeded more rapidly than anyone would have expected (including me), becoming, at 27, the youngest vice president at State Street.
As the years passed, I became increasingly involved as an active Bentley Alumnus, and maintained my connection with my many Bentley friends. I might add that all three of my brothers also attended Bentley.
In 1990, I was elected to become a Trustee of Bentley and over the next ten years served on many trustee committees, including Chairman of the Business and Finance Committee for three years.
During my tenure as trustee, I was pleased to establish The George Fantini Sr. Scholarship Fund, in my dad’s name. It stipulated that it be awarded to worthy students graduating from Cambridge High and Latin Schools.
My next engagement with Bentley began when I, together with my business partner, John Gorga established Fantini & Gorga (real estate investment banking firm) in 1995. Through the years that followed, we were fortunate to hire 25 Bentley interns to work summers and after school during the school year. Being a small company, I became very well acquainted with them all and was without exception impressed with the work ethic and capabilities of every one of them. Five are now full-time senior level staff with the firm.
In 2014, I headed up my class 50th reunion celebration. It was a joyful occasion with over a dozen of my classmates working hand-in-hand to bring about a record attendance at a 50-year celebration.
I had every reason to expect that my 50th would be the last active engagement with Bentley, until I received an invitation in June 2015 to serve as the chairman of Bentley’s Centennial Celebration. I was delighted to accept and have been fully reengaged since. It has been a wonderful experience to become acquainted with so many new Bentley friends during my frequent campus visits.
In closing, let me say – wearing many different hats – I have experienced and witnessed the life-changing positives Bentley can bring to its graduates. My Bentley Journey has been an especially unique one, having seen Bentley from its humble beginnings to the enviable place it has earned in higher education today. I feel very fortunate to have been on such a rewarding and exciting journey.