Accomplished Alumni

Steven L. Antonakes ’94G

Obama administration taps alumnus for U.S. Treasury post

Steven L. Antonakes ’94G, a Salem State University alumnus and commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Banks since 2004, has been named to the U.S. Treasury. He will join the agency's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, charged with building a consumer supervision program for the nation's largest depository institutions. Antonakes is the son of retired Salem State professor emeritus Michael Antonakes and Salem State Explorers Club executive Elaine Antonakes. He received his master’s degree in business administration from the university in 1994. In his new position, he will oversee the nation's largest banks and credit unions to ensure compliance with federal consumer protection laws.

Named commissioner of banks for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by Governor Mitt Romney on January 1, 2004, he monitored the Commonwealth's nearly 300 state-chartered trust companies, savings banks, cooperative banks, and credit unions, overseeing total combined assets of approximately $200 billion. Prior to his appointment, Antonakes had served since July 2002 as the first deputy commissioner of banks. He held senior policymaking positions with the division since 1995.

In addition to an MBA from Salem State University, Antonakes holds a bachelor of arts degree from Penn State University and a PhD in law, policy and society from Northeastern University.

Michael Vella

Alumnus found path to Brandeis at Salem State

By Nick Porter ’07

Following a “disappointing” freshman year at another institution, Michael Vella ’05, ’08G turned to Salem State University in 2002.

He knew right away that he had made the right decision. “I immediately recognized a strong sense of community,” he recalls, “and I actually got to know the faculty. I would say (education professors) Leila Moore and Deborah Hamilton had the biggest impact. I also related better to the students.”

Taking advantage of his new surroundings, Vella juggled senatorial duties with the student government association while earning a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in secondary education. He soon set his sights on a career in higher education–a path he knew would require more schooling and a special kind of academic environment. Once again, he chose Salem State.

“When it came time to pursue a graduate degree [in higher education], I had a short list of schools to choose from,” he explains. “Salem State was about half the cost of the others. It was an easy choice.”

Salem State’s School of Graduate Studies offers a master’s degree in higher education in student affairs and provides extensive training in college-level student development. Vella appreciated the knowledgeable faculty “with years of experience” and spent two years earning the degree while teaching history full-time at Revere High School.

“The classes were very progressive and I was completely prepared for my practicum–and eventually my job,” he says.

The practicum, which gives students the opportunity to apply their knowledge in the field, is a crucial element of the program. Vella completed his at Brandeis University, where he was eventually hired as a full-time employee. As a community development coordinator, he is responsible for managing a 300-person residence hall and supervising a staff of five community assistants.

Vella attributes his success to the education he received in Salem State’s graduate program.

“I would recommend the [graduate] program to anyone who is currently working, can only take night classes or is looking for a solid program for a great price,” he says. “The resources are there if you want to take advantage of them.”