Senior Vice Pesident, Standish Mellon Asset Management
Knox College Board of Trustees
Majors: Economics and International Relations
Patrick Lyn grew up in Mandeville, Jamaica. After he received a degree in
economics and international relations from Knox, he pursued an M.B.A.
and master of accounting from Rice University. He has worked in the financial industry for more than 20 years, currently serving as senior vice president and managing director of client service and marketing at Standish Mellon Asset Management Company, LLC, in Boston, where he lives with his husband, Craig. He is among the youngest members of the Lincoln Douglas Society, which recognizes donors who have given $100,000-$999,999 in their lifetimes, and joined the Board in 2008.
Why did you decide to go to college outside of Jamaica?
I went to my high school guidance counselor and chemistry teacher, Sherman Rosenberg, when I started thinking about college. I told him that I wanted to go to school in the United States, particularly a school in the Midwest. "I know where you've got to go. You've got to go to Knox," he said. "My cousin and nephew went to Knox. It's a terrific school, and you'll fit in perfectly. You need to apply."
I ended up applying to a lot of ACM schools, including Macalester and Carleton, but he kept telling me to go to Knox, and I did. And here's the funny thing -- I've since found out that Mr. Rosenberg is my fellow trustee Diane Rosenberg '63's cousin and the "nephew" he was referring to was Diane's son, Robert Rosenberg '81. It never occurred to me that Sherman and Diane were related!
Why the Midwest?
I wanted to go somewhere completely different from where I grew up. Having studied Midwestern geography and written a paper on the Midwestern "Bread Basket" in my geography class, I knew it was flat and that it had four seasons -- totally different from warm, tropical Jamaica. The West Coast seemed too far away. The East Coast seemed too built up for me. And the South was just too close to home.
Why did you ultimately end up choosing Knox?
I loved the whole experience of applying to Knox. It was entirely done by mail -- this was in the early 1980s, when you didn't have e-mail, and you certainly didn't have the Web. But I just got such a feeling of warmth from the folks at Knox that when it came time to decide, I went to Knox. The interesting thing is that four Jamaicans came to Knox the year I entered, and all four of us came because of some connection to Mr. Rosenberg -- three from my high school alone, which is quite a feat when you realize there were only 28 people in my graduating class!
Did the College live up to your expectations?
I went to Knox sight unseen. I arrived in Galesburg for the first time at 9:30 at night and was met at the airport by Knox folks. My plane was two-and-a-half hours late, and I had no luggage. But, again, everyone was so welcoming. They picked me up, took me to Knox, and put me up for the night. The next morning, I opened the window, looked outside, and thought, "Oh my god, this place really is flat as a pancake." But I was so overwhelmed by how warm and friendly and welcoming the staff was, the faculty was . . . basically, everyone that I met. I never regretted my decision.
What was it like to be an international student at Knox in the 1980s?
The year I came to Knox was the start of a strong international community at Knox. The College had more international students than in previous years. We created a really strong International Club and founded International Fair during my sophomore year. We decided to hold the fair in January because it's cold, it's dreary, and people are going to be really interested in something that's all about fun and food and music. It's still held in January today.
I was very involved on campus in other ways, too. I was in the Admission Suite my sophomore year and spent my junior year abroad in France. I had a column in The Knox Student. I was a DJ on WVKC, and I was also on Honor Board. I always tell folks to get involved. Find something that you love to do. That's how you'll really get the most out of your college experience.
What is your favorite Knox memory?
One of the ways I made it through Knox and having really good grades, being involved in so many things, and having an active social life was that I realized that I had to study on Friday nights. So every Friday at the end of classes, I went to Seymour Library and would stay there until the library closed. I'd be in the carrels on the second floor studying, and there'd be these parties at the TKE house and the BETA house -- you'd hear people yelling, and there'd be music. And that's truly one of my favorite Knox memories -- sitting at the library and looking out at all of these people having a great time. It may not be what others would consider a favorite memory -- but it's key for me.
Who was your favorite professor?
Sue Hulett is one of my favorite professors because she and I share diametrically different points of view on politics, but when I was at Knox, I remember how much I enjoyed debating with her and how much I respected her intellectually, even if I didn't agree with her, and I leanred so much from her.
How has your Knox education impacted your life?
Nothing prepares you for life like a liberal arts education. It teaches you to think, it teaches you to reason, and it teaches you to question, but in very logical, reasonable ways. In addition to that, a Knox education fosters independent thinking. Thinking outside the box is what I learned at Knox. That is the thing that has made me successful in my career.
What do you enjoy most about serving on the Board?
It makes me come back to Knox three times a year. It's hard to make yourself come to Knox on a regular basis when you don't live close by, except for Homecoming every five to 10 years for a Reunion. I've really enjoyed coming back to campus, seeing a lot of my old professors, and just being on campus and having really good memories, plus meeting all the students and seeing how different yet similar they are when I was at Knox.
What is the greatest strength that you bring to the Board of Trustees?
I am the first international student to serve on the Board. I certainly bring a different perspective and provide the Board with a diversity of opinion. Secondly, my career has been in finance and investment management, and those two areas are key to Knox's future success. Knox has been extremely fortunate to have some very strong hands on the financial rudder the last 10 years from President Roger Taylor '63 and Tom Axtell, chief financial officer, to fellow Trustees Joe Glossberg and Ralph Walter '69. All have helped Knox chart a course towards financial impregnability. There is still a lot of work to do, and I want to help.
Most of the volunteer work you've done for Knox has been with the Office of Advancement, such as being chair of the Knox Fund Steering Committee. Why is this area important to you?
Even though I was an international student, Knox provided me with financial aid, which is one of the reasons I was able to attend. And I knew so many other folks at Knox who were able to attend because they were getting financial aid. It is very important to me to be able to give back what I receive. Early on, I decided that giving to higher education would be one of my focus areas for life-long giving, and I've just kept that up.
Why do you believe Knox alumni should support their alma mater?
I often tell people that wherever they are, whatever success they've had in their life, Knox is a part of that. I ask people to think about their time at Knox and realize that their education was brought to them, in part, by others who gave back -- people who gave money to buildings or the endowment or operating expenses. Among the hurly-burly of the day to day, it's easy to say, "I'd rather buy myself a bright and shiny new thing instead of give to Knox." But everything we have today was made possible, in part, by Knox College. Now it's our time to give back. We need to help the next generation have that Knox experience.
What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing the Board today?
Fundraising is clearly the greatest challenge facing the Board and the College. For an institution of our size and aspirations, we need to find a way to continue to achieve financial impregnability and to build our endowment. We have buildings that are in significant need of attention. We have an endowment that doesn't generate nearly enough revenue to pay the fabulous faculty and staff at the levels they should be paid.
Where would you like to see Knox in 10 years?
I'd like to see Knox continue its historical mission of bringing education to historically underserved communities and to continue to keep the high quality, high touch faculty-student interaction that we have today, but with much better resources. If I came back to Knox 10 years from now and saw that every building on campus has been renovated and updated, that we had new buildings and new facilities where we need them, and if Alumni Hall was a beautiful, functioning gateway to Knox, I'd be thrilled. To get there, we need to raise a lot of money.