Robert S. Basso (Seton Hall University ’67) of San Rafael, California was honored by Phi Kappa Theta as a 2018 Man of Achievement at the fraternity’s IMPACT18 conference in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, August 4th.
The award recognizes brothers who have risen to prominence in their fields of endeavor. Basso received the award for his 45 years of executive experience in the field of finance and for his many acts of charity.
In accepting his award, brother Basso recounted the major milestones in his personal life and professional career. He expressed appreciation to his parents, wife, sons and many friends who helped him along the way. Bob also emphasized the vital role played by Phi Kappa Theta in shaping his views and values.
“My fondest memories of college life, and the lifelong friendships I’ve been blessed with, have all come because of our beloved fraternity,” he said. “Giving back is perhaps the most important lesson we can ever learn, but clearly one imparted not so much in the classroom but rather in everyday life – by what we do and by the examples we set.”
Basso’s professional career included work with Loeb, Rhodes & Company, Merrill Lynch, UBS Paine Webber, Fidelity Investments, National Financial Services and Correspondent Services Corporation. From 1969-71, he served with the US Army, including a 13-month tour of duty in Vietnam
Although a long-time resident of California, brother Basso is an authentic “Jersey Boy.” He was born and raised in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ – a popular seashore town with a traditional wooden boardwalk, amusement rides, games of chance and vendors selling world-famous Jersey Taffy.
Bob left New Jersey in 1981 to pursue a business offer in California, where he met and married Mary Healy and started a family. Mary attended the ceremony with the couple’s sons: John, who is with the FBI, and Robert, who works in finance.
Three of Bob’s lifelong friends and pledge brothers surprised him by showing up at the MoA ceremony: Raymond De Carlo ’67, Peter Riccardo ’67 and John Bland ’66. In his remarks, Basso said they “have remained as close as any set of real brothers could possibly be for almost 55 years.”
They were joined by Robert Cianciulli, a 1967 graduate of Glassboro State College in NJ. Cianciulli, whom the guys refer to as “Chinch,” was not a Phi Kap back then but hung out with his Phi Kappa Theta buddies so often that they considered him an “honorary” member. The guys remained in touch long after graduation.
Basso thought the perfect time to initiate Cianciulli into Phi Kappa Theta was while they all were in Orlando but he didn’t tell Chinch of his plans. Instead, Bob secretly worked with the Phi Kappa Theta National Office to plan Cianciulli’s induction ceremony, which took place after the Man of Achievement event.
Cianciulli only learned of the honor when Basso disclosed it during his MoA acceptance remarks. Chinch was startled and deeply grateful. The ritual was conducted by Phi Kap trustees, national office staff and several alumni brothers.
Brother Basso said he always “held sacred” the Fraternity’s motto, Give, Expecting Nothing Thereof. “But in reality, by expecting nothing, I’ve received so much more than I could have ever imagined – let alone expected – from lifelong friendships to opportunities and experiences I could never have possibly envisioned.”
Basso served as Associate Member President and Associate Member Director, as a member of the Student Council for three years and as host of a business talk-show for the student radio station. He then ran for Student Council President but lost.
Bob described the loss as “an ironic twist of life that really set the stage for what was to become my future! Two invaluable life lessons: 1. sometimes a loss can be a huge win; and 2. service can actually have multiple meanings.”
After losing the Student Council race, Bob was appointed as the Seton Hall student representative to the United Nations – a program that included students from universities throughout the world. He said the UN position “provided insights into a global environment that I could never have imagined. And little did I know that that seminal event would be a precursor to my life’s work in NYC.”
Bob and I were not at Seton Hall at the same time. But we got to know each other when he was a collegiate and I was an officer of the alumni chapter, now known as The Phi Kappa Theta Alumni Association at Seton Hall.
Brother Basso is a long-time member of the Seton Hall Board of Regents. He’s also a generous donor to SHU, New Jersey Phi Beta Chapter at Seton Hall, Phi Kappa Theta National Foundation and numerous charitable organizations.
Bob has been a trustee of several California-based academic institutions, including St. Raphael School in San Rafael and Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield.
In 2000, Bob and Mary created the Basso/Healy Foundation, a nonprofit that helps youth-based education and social service agencies provide scholarships to needy students. In 2010, they created the Basso-Healy Endowed Scholarship to help Marin Catholic High School students attend Seton Hall.
Upon retiring in 2007, Bob founded Best Partners, an independent financial services consulting company. Later, he was a director of Poniard Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded firm.
In his Man of Achievement remarks, brother Basso said he considers Phi Kappa Theta “the single most important part of my college experience and the reservoir of my fondest memories.” He remains a loyal Phi Kap, an icon in the field of finance, a devoted husband and father, a generous philanthropist and a dedicated and humble servant leader.
Watch Brother Basso’s speech from IMPACT18 in Orlando, FL: