Setting Examples

Robert S. Basso Recognized As Phi Kappa Theta’s2018 Man of Achievement

by Nicholas R. Scalera
Seton Hall University, ‘63

(left to right): Seton Hall University Alumni Brothers Nicholas R. Scalera (‘63), Robert S. Basso (‘67), Peter Riccardo (‘67), Raymond De Carlo (‘67) and John Bland (‘66).

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:

ONR-RC CoS Selection - CAPT (and Brother) Michael Van Poots


Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity Trustee, Michael Van Poots (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, ‘95) has been elected to be the next Chief of Staff for Office of Naval Research (ONR) Reserve Component & the next Commanding Officer of the ONR Headquarters Reserve Unit in Washington D.C.

Van Poots has nearly 25 years of Navy experience including 7 board selected command tours, a tour as the ONR-RC Assistant Chief of Staff, Communication & Policy and has served in numerous ONR-RC project/mission leadership roles. He brings to his new position a strong passion for innovation and an un-ending level of positive energy. He has a BS in Engineering Physics, a Masters in Business Administration and a PhD in Applied Management and Decision Sciences.

The CoS serves as an advisor to ONR-RC Leadership on the workforce, runs the ONR-RC staff, and is the steward of our workforce's innovation culture.

Please join us in congratulating CAPT Van Poots in his new leadership role!

About Brother Van Poots:

Captain Michael R. Van Poots hails from Sparta, New Jersey and is a 1995 graduate of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Course earning a BS degree in Engineering Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY. Following nuclear power and basic submarine training, he reported to USS BALTIMORE (SSN 704) while preparing for deactivation at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Prior to completion of final operations, Captain Van Poots made several missions from Norfolk VA, serving as Electrical Assistant. He qualified as Diving Officer and Engineering Officer of the Watch, earning the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.In October 1997 Captain Van Poots reported to USS MONTPELIER (SSN 765) in Norfolk VA serving as Reactor Controls Assistant, Chemical and Radiological Controls Assistant, Diving Officer,Quality Assurance Officer, and Damage Control Assistant. He qualified in Submarine Warfare and as a Prospective Nuclear Engineer Officer, earning the Battle “E” Award, Navy Expeditionary Medal, Navy Sea Service Medal, and Navy Arctic Service Medal.In August 2000, Captain Van Poots transferred to the Navy Reserve. He served three years in various department head roles with NR COMSUBRON SIX Detachment 504 in Reading, PA. In October 2003, he reported to NR COMSUBGRU TEN FORCE PROTECTION Detachment 2, serving as the Administrative and Training department head and Officer In Charge of force protection details in Port Canaveral FL. In October 2004 he assumed command of NR RECRUITSUPUNIT Detachment 428 in Amityville, New York. In December 2006 he assumed command of NR NSF NSA NAPLES Detachment C in Capodichino Italy, earning the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation. In December 2008 he assumed command of NR NSF SUGAR GROVE in Sugar Grove, WV. In 2009 he was recalled to active duty as Inspector General JTF-GTMO in Guantanamo Bay Cuba earning the Joint Meritorious Unit Award (2). In December 2010, he served as Operations Department head NR USFF MOC GRBO in Greensboro NC. In December 2012, he assumed command of NR USW OPERATIONS Detachment N in Charlotte, NC. In December 2014, he assumed command of NR NRL S&T 104 in Washington DC. In December 2016, he assumed command of NR NRL S&T 105 in Norfolk,VA. In December 2018, he assumed command of NR HQ NRL S&T 100 in Washington DC and is the Chief of Staff for the Office of Naval Research Reserve Component.His personal awards include Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Navy Commendation Medal (3), Navy Achievement Medal (5), National Defense Medal (2),Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal,Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (3), Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Navy Recruiting Service Award (4), Expert Rifle Marksmanship Medal, Expert Pistol Marksmanship Medal, Commander Submarine Group Two and Commander Navy Region North East Letters of Commendation. He received instruction at the U.S. Navy Anti terrorism Warfare Development Center, is a graduate of the Joint Professional Military Education program at the Naval War College, U.S.Army Inspector General School, and is designated a US Naval Academy Blue and Gold Officer.In his civilian career Captain Van Poots is the Technical Services Manager for Miller Coors at the Shenandoah VA Brewery. He earned a Masters of Business Administration degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY. He earned a PhD in Applied Management and Decision Sciences from Walden University. Captain Van Poots is married to Holly Anne (Hurt) Van Poots of Roanoke, Virginia.They have two sons and reside in Harrisonburg, Virginia.