Robert "Bob" '71 and Kathy ZattaROBERT “BOB” ’71 AND KATHY ZATTA

What does it take to reignite an interest in your alma mater? For Robert “Bob” Zatta ’71, it took a hockey game. “About three years ago, Merrimack played in a hockey tournament at the Prudential Center in Newark, which is not far from our main home in Princeton, New Jersey,” he explained. “Kathy and I were invited to the game by Sara Jane Brazda, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. Based on what I heard from Sara, it was clear that something new and very exciting was going on at Merrimack.

“Sara and President Hopey later invited Kathy and me to have dinner with them in Princeton. After listening to President Hopey talk about his vision for the College and all that was taking place on campus, my renewed interest in Merrimack started to grow, and I was ready for the next step. We soon traveled to campus for a visit. Once I got to campus, it was a whole different world from what I remembered. The energy, the excitement, the momentum—it was totally infectious.  I couldn’t help but want to be part of it.”

Kathy agreed, “The change from when Bob went there was just tremendous.”

Bob explains how he lost touch with Merrimack: “Back in 1971, Merrimack was a very young institution and didn’t have a lot in terms of alumni activities. After graduation, I moved back to North Jersey. I lost touch with my classmates and the College. To be honest, for decades I had virtually no contact with the school or my former classmates.”

Renewing their Merrimack connection
After their initial trip to Merrimack, the Zattas were inspired to return. “I ended up in a classroom with some business students, which I thoroughly enjoyed,” said Bob. “And from there, I became a member of the College’s Leadership Council, and eventually joined the Board of Trustees.”

In January 2015, Bob, who was acting CEO at the time, and his colleagues sold their company, Rockwood Holdings, Inc. Since then, he has kept busy, serving on the boards of two public companies and as a trustee for Merrimack College. Bob and Kathy primarily reside at their homes in Princeton and Bay Head, New Jersey, and frequently travel to their residence in Los Angeles. Family is a focal point of Bob and Kathy’s life, and time is frequently spent with their three children and two grandchildren.

Making a powerful investment
Giving back to Merrimack has become a big part of Bob’s postcorporate life. From attending his 45th reunion to giving the keynote address at the College’s Professional Development Retreat, Bob has lent his expertise in many ways. Bob and Kathy are also supporting the Together for Good Campaign by making a financial gift to help build one of two large-tiered classrooms in the new academic pavilion. “As a business person, I think about the return on investment,” he explained. Noting that the classrooms will provide a modern environment for presentations, case discussions, and corporate visits, he said, “It’s clear that this building is needed to support Merrimack’s growth, and to provide students with the latest approaches and technology.”

The Zattas also find that the pace of change at Merrimack is gratifying. “Every penny that’s contributed is important, and here, you can see the direct result of your gift,” said Kathy. “It’s very gratifying to see the end result and to know that your donation is being well utilized and appreciated.”

And why should others consider reconnecting with Merrimack? Bob says to his fellow classmates, “Anyone who has not been engaged with the College in the last five or 10 years—or even longer—should come to campus and see for themselves how the College has advanced. Take advantage of the time on campus to see a hockey game, attend an event, or just walk around and see the students. Their energy, excitement, and sense of purpose is all it will take to want to reconnect. It’s a winning environment, and Kathy and I are proud to be part of a winning team.”