Better Than They Found It
For Mary Lou and Marc Seidner ’88, P’24, giving back to others is a way of life.
“You can’t imagine a more dramatic move for a child.”
That’s how Marc Seidner ’88, P’24, describes how he felt, as a four- or five-year-old in the early 1970s, when his family migrated from Sydney, Australia, to Montreal, Canada. “It literally was the other side of the world, not to mention the climate being flipped upside down.”
Marc planned to be the first member of his family to attend college, but he was unsure of what he might study. By a stroke of good fortune, the answer came during the second semester of his senior year in high school, when a new elective in economics was introduced. “I took it in and just sort of fell in love with it—the flame was lit,” Marc recalls.
At BC, he was a self-described “okay” student. “I tried to strike the right balance between studying hard, having a good social life, being a good friend, and developing lifelong friendships.” After being hooked in high school, Marc made economics his major and eventually drew further inspiration from members of the faculty who would become his mentors, including Richard Tresch and Catherine Schneider. It proved to be the jumping-off point for a stellar career in the asset management industry. He is now chief investment officer of nontraditional strategies at PIMCO and head of portfolio management in the firm’s New York office.
After three-plus decades of climbing to the pinnacle of his profession, Marc has earned the proper perspective to say definitively what separates the best in his field from the rest. “One of the things that some portfolio managers and asset managers forget is it’s not about us,” he says. “It’s not about ego. It’s about generating returns for others. Every dollar we create in terms of return—whether it’s for a schoolteacher’s retirement or a state pension plan—is helping someone.”
The lessons he’s learned have also taught Marc how to look forward. In fact, he regularly takes younger members of the team under his wing in the hopes that it will inspire them to develop the same passion and drive to make a difference in other people’s lives. “As my career has evolved, it’s less about me and my professional development,” he says. “My goal, my passion, and my desire right now is to leave this place better than I found it.”
The pay-it-forward philosophy that Marc applies to his work life “absolutely aligns” with the ways in which he and his spouse, Mary Lou Seidner, P’24, manage other parts of their personal lives, especially their philanthropy.
A Family Affair
Mary Lou grew up a bit more locally than Marc did. A native of Medford, Massachusetts, she was taught to always value the opportunity to learn. “My family felt very strongly about education,” says the 1990 Merrimack College graduate. “I was a partial-scholarship student, and my grandmother loaned me some money for my last year. She never went to college, so it really instilled in me how important it was.”
Mary Lou and Marc met while they were both working at Fidelity, and it didn’t take long for Mary Lou to start developing her own affection for BC, which only deepened as the couple became parents to two daughters, Casey, who is a sophomore at Lehigh University, and Alexis, a first-year Eagle.
“BC is a special place, and it captured the heart of my family years ago,” Mary Lou says. “Lexi especially has loved BC since Marc and I took her to her first football game. It was all her idea to dress up as Doug Flutie for Halloween when she was four years old!”
Whether it’s the Schiller Institute or the Shea Center for Entrepreneurship, in the way they capture minds and thoughts and ideas and give students a platform to create and innovate, with the Jesuit foundation of trying to solve problems for others, it’s all very exciting.”
—Marc Seidner ’88
Becoming BC parents has enabled the Seidners to see the University from a completely different perspective. “You definitely get a deeper appreciation,” Mary Lou says about her newest BC role. “I’m trying to be as hands-off as possible, but at the same time I’m listening to Lexi talk about how excited she is about her classes—it’s amazing.”
As someone who knows what it’s like to attend BC, Marc has taken a similar approach, allowing Lexi to discover her own passions, live her own experiences, and chart her own course. “I view it like a highway,” he says. “Our role as parents is to provide the guardrails to ensure that the direction of travel is still forward, the speed is appropriate, and that there’s not too much wavering. It’s up to you to decide what lane you want to be in and how you want to drive the car.”
Late last fall, with COVID-19 protocols in place, many students opted not to leave Massachusetts over Thanksgiving and semester break. The Seidners invited a few of Lexi’s friends to live with the family at their apartment in Downtown Boston. The guests left a strong impression.
“They’re what comes to mind when you think of BC students: genuine people, driven to succeed, and so much more adaptable than we would have been,” Mary Lou says. “I just feel really lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to meet them. When I’m 99 years old, I want to look back and say, ‘Okay, we’ve raised some really good people who are ruling the world right now.’ I think our kids are on that path, and I think Boston College is a big part of it.”
Whether they are mentoring younger colleagues or providing students a place to stay, the Seidners are fully committed to helping others. And more often than not, BC has been the beneficiary of their gifts of time and money.
The Seidners have emerged among a core group of BC community members who contribute in meaningful ways to the University as a whole, especially when it comes to supporting major initiatives or areas of particular need.
“Marc and Mary Lou together embody the best of the Boston College community,” says Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley. “As longstanding supporters and now as parents, they have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of a BC education. Their generous support has enabled progress on several of our most important initiatives. We have been blessed to have the benefit of their leadership as we work together to advance the University’s distinctive mission.”
They are inspired to give by what they see happening at the Heights. “One of the great parts about BC is what hasn’t changed—it has evolved certainly—but the core curriculum and the foundational education that every student receives supply that passion for lifelong learning that is critically important to anyone’s success,” Marc says.
For many students, simply coming to Boston College can be a pipe dream, achievable only through significant financial support. To help remedy that, the Seidner family has established three scholarships to give opportunities to the deserving students and scholar-athletes who need it most. They recently established the Murphy Family Scholarship to honor Mary Lou’s late mother, and their latest pledge was made to the groundbreaking Be a Beacon campaign for financial aid, which supports BC’s commitment to need-blind admission.
Why do they do it? “We’re so impressed with the student body. BC continues to accelerate the caliber of students that it’s attracting, which makes it a better place,” Marc says. “It’s empowering BC to enable dozens or hundreds or even thousands of kids to follow in those footsteps. And it all links back to the grounding and the complete education—not just academic but also as a person—that came from the four years I spent there.”
Funding the Future
Despite finding success in finance, Marc wouldn’t change his BC experience studying in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, although he jokingly mentions his doubts about whether or not he’d be admitted today.
He has taken notice of the great strides made by the Carroll School of Management under the leadership of John and Linda Powers Family Dean Andy Boynton. “I’m so impressed with the progress that it continues to make in moving up the rankings of the country’s—if not the world’s—best undergraduate business programs,” Marc says. “The passion and enthusiasm that Andy brings, the chairs of departments like [senior associate dean for faculty and Haub Family Professor] Ronnie Sadka, and the ability to attract and retain world-class professors put it in a great position. And it’s awesome to see the leadership not resting on its laurels and continuing to press to be better every day.”
BC is a special place, and it captured the heart of my family years ago.
—Mary Lou Seidner, P’24
The respect is mutual. “I’ve known Marc for years—since he first engaged with the Carroll School almost 10 years ago,” Boynton says. “From day one, he’s been nothing but completely supportive, engaged, willing, and eager to roll up his sleeves. Marc always asks, ‘What can I do to help?’ He’s a fellow alum with a genuine and selfless desire to help us succeed at Boston College and the Carroll School. All through these years, Marc has been an invaluable partner, a treasured part of our Carroll School team.”
As a sign of their belief in the Carroll School, Marc and Mary Lou created the Seidner Family Faculty Fellowship. It is held by finance professor Rui Albuquerque, whom the Seidners recently met for a virtual conversation.
With BC in good hands, they are also eager to see where it goes next, in particular the physical campus and the strategic vision. That’s one of the reasons they have endowed the inaugural Seidner Family Executive Directorship of the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society, a position held by Laura Steinberg.
“With this new institute BC is able to combine the formation and the core curriculum with an engineering program and train the next generation of engineers to think holistically about problems and solutions that the world faces,” Marc says. “Whether it’s the Schiller Institute or the Shea Center for Entrepreneurship, in the way they capture minds and thoughts and ideas and give students a platform to create and innovate, with the Jesuit foundation of trying to solve problems for others, it’s all very exciting.”
Mary Lou and Marc are making a difference through their philanthropy and service to BC.
- Board of Trustees
- Board of Regents
- Parents Leadership Council
- Be a Beacon Campaign Co-Chair
Seidner Family Executive Directorship of the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society
Seidner Family Faculty Fellows Fund, Carroll School of Management
Annual Current Use Giving
Flynn Fund Scholarship
Endowed Scholarship Funds
Charitable giving is not the only way the Seidners give back to BC. Mary Lou and Marc call it an “honor and a privilege” to serve the BC community in a variety of ways. They are active members of the Board of Regents—Marc is co-chair with Susan Martinelli Shea ’76—and the Parents Leadership Council. Marc is also a University Trustee. In this capacity, he has lent a pivotal voice in the development and formation of Be a Beacon as co-chair with fellow trustees John F. Fish, Phil Schiller ’82, and Shea.
Over the years, Marc has enjoyed the opportunity to return to campus in some less official roles. He is a regular speaker on expert panels, including at the Carroll School’s annual finance conference. He has sat in on classes and, in the days following the 2016 election, addressed a group of students at the Winston Center for Leadership’s “Lunch with a Leader” series. He shared stories about his life and career and offered sage advice on how to navigate turbulent times, pursue your passions, and ultimately pay it forward. “Leaving the world a better place can be done through charitable contribution, but more importantly it’s achieved through sharing wisdom and perspective and time in terms of volunteering and helping,” he says.
Mary Lou’s latest adventure is graduate school. She is presently applying to several colleges for a master’s degree in nonprofit management and nonprofit leadership, which she sees as an avenue to do more. “Donating is one thing, but I really want to influence what it’s like from the ground up,” she explains. “I’m an experiential learner, and I’d like to be a more value-added partner, not just someone who writes a check.”
For Mary Lou and Marc, their contributions to society go far beyond their philanthropy. They give back not for the recognition or to feed their ego—they simply want to leave the world better than they found it. That doesn’t mean they take for granted anything they have received or been able to give back to BC.
“I say with fullness of heart, just thinking about the opportunities I’ve had in my life, many of them have come because BC gave me a chance, gave me an education, gave me a formation, gave me a quest for lifelong learning that has served me well,” Marc says. “The chance to give back as a partner and as a part of the BC community and a citizen is a great pleasure.”
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