Renewing relationships, building legacies

A conversation with Robert “Bob” Zatta '71 and Kathy Zatta, supporters of the Together for Good Campaign.


Why did you decide to attend Merrimack College?

Bob: No one in my family had gone to college, but I wanted to go away to school and I thought New England would be a great place to go. The fact that Merrimack was a Catholic college was a big plus. So, when you put it all together, it made perfectly good sense.

What have you been up to since graduating?

Bob: My colleagues and I sold our company, Rockwood Holdings, in January 2015. At the time, I was the acting Chief Executive Officer, and prior to that, I was the long-time Chief Financial Officer. After we sold the company, I became involved in many activities. I’m on the Board of Trustees of Merrimack College and on the board of two public companies, Innophos Holdings and Nexeo Solutions.

Kathy: We spend most of our time at our homes in Princeton and Bay Head, N.J., and frequently travel to our residence in Los Angeles.  Family is a focal point of our lives.  Time is frequently spent with our oldest son, Steven, and his 5-year-old daughter, Abbey, who spend summers with us in Bay Head; our son, Christopher, daughter-in-law, Caity, and 2-1/2-year-old granddaughter, Ellington, who live in Los Angeles; and our daughter, Alison, who also lives in Los Angeles.  

Bob: Over the years, my career took us from Toronto, Canada to Brussels, Belgium. They were great career-building moves and helped me achieve a lot of success. I couldn’t have done it without Kathy’s 100% support. We’ve been a team effort for all these years.

What makes Merrimack special?

Bob: The Augustinian tradition is very important on campus—the tradition of caring, respect, openness, honesty, and joy. You can feel it. When prospective students arrive on campus it makes them feel safe, comfortable, and very much at home. The administration, faculty, and staff also do an incredible job of engaging with the students.

Kathy: There’s good energy here between the College and the students.

After graduating from Merrimack, you lost touch with the institution for several years. How did you renew your connection?

Bob: 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.

About three years ago, Merrimack played in a hockey tournament in Newark, which is not far from our main home in Princeton, N.J. 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.  Soon after, we traveled to North Andover 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: Bob and I started dating in high school in New Jersey so I actually visited him at Merrimack a few times back then. The change from when Bob went there was just tremendous.

How are you involved with Merrimack now?

Bob: After our initial trip to Merrimack, we were inspired to continue visiting campus. I ended up in a classroom with some business students, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and from there, I became a member of the College Leadership Council and eventually joined the Board of Trustees.

I recently made the keynote address at Merrimack’s Professional Development Retreat, which we also help support financially. It’s a unique two-day program that helps students gain exposure to the professional and personal development side of business. It’s the tangible, natural outgrowth of what Merrimack is trying to do on campus—taking good kids and making them great.

Why did you decide to support the Together for Good campaign?

Bob: Kathy and I decided to support the Together for Good Campaign by making a financial gift to help build one of the classrooms in the new academic pavilion. As a business person, I think about the return on investment. It’s clear that this building is needed to support Merrimack’s growth and provide students with the latest approaches and technology.

Kathy: Every penny that’s contributed is important, and here, you can see the direct result of your gift. It’s very gratifying to see the end result and to know that your donation is being well utilized and appreciated.

Bob: Together for Good is the epitome of transformation, collaboration, and enthusiasm. It’s the idea of people working together and trying to become all that they can be. For me, it’s a great expression of what we’ve already accomplished and what we can do going forward.


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