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The Halls of Power

Rutgers alumni are a source of, and conduit to, power in the nation.

Leave it to Rutgers, and its illustrious alumni, to lead me, literally, through the corridors of power in the United States. Recently, I was in Washington, D.C., along with magazine art director John VanCleaf and staff photographer Nick Romanenko, to interview and photograph Bill Yosses, the executive pastry chef at the White House (“Executive Sweets”). On the day that we arrived, Yosses GSNB’78, who is responsible for preparing desserts for White House functions as well as for the First Family, bore the mark of a man who was greatly relieved and very satisfied. The night before, on an unusually balmy evening in the nation’s capital, he had prepared more than 350 desserts for the state dinner to honor England. The spectacular event, attended by George Clooney and other luminaries, had been an unqualified success. Feeling expansive, Yosses, whose experience studying French literature at Rutgers guided him into the culinary world, led us past the Oval Office and onto the South Lawn, where we photographed him. Out of nowhere, Bo Obama, the First Dog, came bounding across the lawn to greet us. We were, it occurred to me, One Degree of Separation from the commander in chief himself! Later, Yosses, our gracious and amusing host who knows his history, showed us the White House. It was impossible not to imagine the powerful people who had occupied those rooms.

Our next stop took us to Fort Belvoir in Virginia, home base for the U.S. Army Legal Services Agency. Here, amid crisply dressed officers and an atmosphere of order and purpose, Flora D. Darpino serves as the agency’s commander (“Legal Eagle”). Darpino CLAW’86 is also in the powerful position of serving as the chief judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the appellate court in the military that would hear the appeal, if convicted, of Bradley Manning, the Army private scheduled to be tried in the fall for passing classified documents to WikiLeaks. Darpino is one of the new members of the Hall of Distinguished Alumni, which includes George C. Hill CCAS’61, Kathryn L. Holloway CCAS’80, Dennis M. Bone RBS’84, and David E. Schuller RC’66 for its Class of 2012 (“5 Star Alumni”). They were feted during the 25th anniversary gala of the Hall of Distinguished Alumni on May 5 for their professional achievement, service to society, and for representing Rutgers in a distinguished manner. And that’s powerful stuff.

                                                                                                                                                — David W. Major