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The Empowering Couple

Anthony and Beth Verlezza have both made their marks in the business world. Today, they are committed to supporting the next generation of leaders.

ANTHONY “TONY” VERLEZZA, ’74, says he wasn’t a star linebacker when he played for the Owls football team. In fact, sometimes it was hard just making it to practice. “Besides studying, I had a job that took its share of hours,” he says.

Verlezza isn’t complaining. His father, who grew up during the Depression and was a World War II veteran, never had the chance to attend college. But, in a meaningful twist, the family surname is now prominently displayed in Southern’s new School of Business building. The Anthony F. and Beth Verlezza MBA Suite was named in recognition of the couple’s leadership-level pledge in support of the School of Business MBA Program Endowment.

“So much of this [gift] is inspired by the way Southern, a state university — a state college when I attended — gave me the opportunity to be upwardly mobile in my career and life,” Anthony says. “Southern provided me with an exceptional education — as good as I would have received anywhere. I was able to parlay that education into a very successful business career.”

Anthony faced his own challenges; in fact, earning a college degree once seemed almost an impossibility. “But my father always encouraged me, stressing that I could do it. That I needed to do it,” he says.

The Verlezzas are committed to sharing that opportunity with others. Their gift for the MBA program continues a long history of support. Other donations furthered initiatives near and dear to Anthony’s heart, among them, the Football Alumni Network Scholarship and other athletics funds. He also established the Anthony Verlezza Endowed Scholarship Fund in the early 1990s. The fund benefits undergraduate business majors who are members of the football team.

Anthony also is an active university volunteer. He previously was vice-chairman of the SCSU Foundation Board of Directors and now serves as a member of the School of Business Advisory Council.

Both Verlezzas succeeded in business, one in the food industry, the other in publishing. Anthony was vice president, supply chain, with Unilever North American Ice Cream from 2001 to 2009, overseeing 10 factories, engineering, and the logistical network. Prior to that he was the vice president and director of manufacturing operations at Dean Foods. Today, he draws on these and other experiences as the principal of Integrated Supply Chain Solutions Business Advisory Services, a strategic management consultancy.

Beth served as regional sales manager for Putman Media, a business-to-business media firm, from 2016 to 2019. Previously, she held the same role at Penton Media and was an advertising director for TAPPI. Now retired, she enjoys the sunshine alongside her husband at the couple’s home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

At Southern, Anthony received a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a focus on microbiology, which, he says, provided a strong foundation for his business career. “This quality technical degree was key to working through scientific issues,” he says, noting the need to understand physics, thermal science, pasteurization, homogenization, and more.

“There is a huge connection between my scientific background and my business experience,” says Anthony.

A Heart for Giving

THE COUPLE MET ABOUT 17 YEARS AGO, and Beth recalls being inspired by her future husband’s passion for giving back. “He did not have the opportunities that I did,” she says. “My father was an internal medicine physician. My mother was Phi Beta Kappa in chemistry. . . . I kind of lived a different life, and I was always impressed that Tony felt it was important to give back to those who did not have opportunities.”

Beth hopes having her name on the business suite will encourage women in their pursuit of a business career. She was one of the few women to hold certain positions during her employment.

She, in turn, was inspired by her mother’s persistence in higher education. “I was encouraged by my mother, who had been discouraged from pursuing her studies in chemistry because she was a woman,” says Beth, adding that her mother was undeterred.

“Strides have been made when it comes to women in the workforce but there is still a long way to go,” she says.

Anthony points to another woman business leader for further inspiring the couple’s support. “Former School of Business Dean Ellen Durnin did so much to build the business school programs,” he says.

“I was not a business major, but we became very close to the university through the business school. Today, the School of Business continues to move forward with Dean Jess Boronico. Beth and I value our connection.”

Heading up to speak at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new home of the School of Business, Anthony Verlezza, a former Owls football player, catches a toss from a current student-athlete.

On Sept. 15, the Verlezzas celebrated that connection at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new business school building — and the official unveiling of the Anthony F. and Beth Verlezza MBA Suite. Family and friends traveled to campus to hear Anthony address the
crowd. Members of the Owls football team also were on hand, one tossing a football to Anthony as he headed to the podium.

Looking out at the crowd, he explained his commitment to his alma mater. “There is no way to simply acknowledge my appreciation to the state and to the university for a world-class education. . . . And when I say world-class, I mean it, as I was able to parlay my Southern
education into an executive position with a multi-national corporation headquartered in London, Rotterdam, Brazil, and New York.”

He mentions his youth in nearby West Haven, noting that he’s not sure where life would have taken him without Southern. Education opened countless doors, and he traveled the country and the world, providing senior-level guidance to factory and management teams in Europe, India, and Africa.

“You see in so many ways how education can make all the difference,” he says. “Dreams are important, and they can come true.” ■

Remembering a Cherished College Friend

LOOKING BACK AT HIS YEARS AT SOUTHERN, Anthony “Tony” Verlezza, ’74, remembers coursework, hours spent in the science labs, and his time on the football field. But like many, he also vividly recalls the friendships. Among those who remain in his heart is Robert “Bob” Rynecki, ’73, M.S. ’77, a Waterbury, Conn., native, who majored in biology (microbiology concentration) and minored in chemistry at Southern.

“Bob was truly a great man and a real credit to Southern Connecticut State University,” says Verlezza of his dear friend who was diagnosed with and died of pancreatic cancer
in 2021.

Rynecki, who earned a master’s degree in microbiology in 1977, spent 20 years in the dairy
manufacturing industry, working at the former Brock-Hall Dairy in Hamden, and at Borden and Kraft Foods throughout the U.S.

He later embarked on a second career, studying nursing at York College in Pennsylvania while working as an EMT. (He was named EMT of the Year in the state.) He went on to work at Chambersburg Hospital, ultimately becoming a nursing supervisor. He also taught for many years at the Penn State Mount Alto campus and was the author of The Art of the IV Start.

He and his wife Terri were married for 46 years; they have two sons, Paul and David, who are both married with children.

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Read more in the Winter 2024 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.

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