AMC President Charlie Collier ’91 graduated cum laude from Bucknell and earned a master’s of business administration from Columbia University, but he traces the roots of his executive training back to fraternity row. “Some of the best preparation for broad and general business leadership was being the president Kappa Delta Rho at Bucknell,” he says. “It was very much like being the president of a business — from managing budgets, to handling the board, to the people-management challenges, to the surprise phone calls in the middle of the night.”
His role as fraternity president “provided a transformative management, learning and growth opportunity,” he says, and it has served him well. Under Collier’s leadership AMC has shed its classic-movie past and reinvented itself as a multi-platform network that boasts heavy-hitting original programming. Big box-office talent fronts AMC mini-series like Broken Trail and The Prisoner, and two of its scripted drama series — Mad Men and Breaking Bad — have garnered critical acclaim along with Emmy and Golden Globe awards.
“What brings any television program through the long and layered process from a creator’s vision to the time it finally hits the air can only be described in the context of the many people who nurture and shape the product at every level,” Collier explains. “I’ve had the privilege to work with and for some of the smartest, most creative people in the business.”
He started as a national sales rep at TeleRep brokering major market television stations selling inventory. He then moved to A&E because, as he explains, “I wanted to be on the network side, where I could touch the product. I left A&E as the vice president of ad sales and went over to Oxygen as the senior vice president, sponsorship sales. That brought me to serving as executive vice president and general manager of advertising sales for Court TV. Court was my last position prior to joining AMC.”
Collier credits Bucknell with providing more than a solid foundation for his professional success. “Bucknell was all about the people and the opportunities outside the classroom for me,” he says. “I met my wife, Kristin Hellstedt Collier ’91, and many of my dearest friends at Bucknell and continue to be inspired by professors, administrators and fellow students.” — Heather Peavey Johns
For her sixth birthday, Vanessa Hull’s ’04 parents gave her a stuffed panda, leading to a life-long fascination with the gentle giants. “What interested me most was their plight for survival as an endangered species and the challenges in protecting their habitat in a human-dominated landscape,” says Hull.
Hull is continuing her education at Michigan State University, where she travels to China to study giant pandas and their habitat at the Wolong Nature Reserve.
She and her colleagues are attempting to trap and collar endangered giant pandas using baited cages in an effort to better understand the animals’ environmental needs and preferences. The low density of pandas in the region makes it difficult to pursue the more successful method of arming scientists with dart guns to anesthetize them.
Graduate field studies are often challenging, as Hull’s experiences illustrate. The 500,000-acre reserve, located in the Sichuan province, was rocked by a powerful earthquake in May 2008. The quake killed an estimated 70,000 people, and even the reserve was affected.
“The earthquake has had a profound impact on the people living in Wolong Nature Reserve. Some people lost relatives and friends in the disaster, and most people’s homes and property were either completely destroyed or in need of significant repair work. The road into the reserve was cut off for months so an entire season’s worth of farming went to waste when crops could not be sold out,” Hull reports.
“The most challenging part of being a graduate student is stepping out of the classroom, where everything feels clear-cut and drawn out for you, and into the real world, where there is no prescribed blueprint to follow,” she says. But Hull believes her experiences at Bucknell have prepared her for any challenges.
When not traveling the globe, Hull and her husband, Masa, a fellow graduate student, live in East Lansing, Mich. — Julie Korbar
Kenneth Wernick ’70 can certainly be considered a product of the times, both of the world and Bucknell. He bore witness to the political and social unrest that occurred on college campuses across the country during the 1960s and ’70s. The former managing editor for The Bucknellian was a senior when some classes and finals were canceled in reaction to the Kent State shootings in May 1970 and also was on hand when Vice President Hubert Humphrey made a controversial visit to campus in 1968.
“I am very grateful for the education that I received at Bucknell, where I was nurtured by a caring and awesome faculty and surrounded by classmates who were never afraid to express their ideas and thoughts for social justice in a very turbulent time,” says Wernick.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in history, he went on to earn his juris doctorate at Washington and Lee University. His career spanned 30 years as a civilian attorney in the federal government in Washington, D.C. and 20 years in the Army Reserve in its Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Wernick’s career involved many exciting appointments including Army court-martial trial judge, Assistant General Counsel (Ethics) for the Department of the Navy, and most recently, Senior Counsel for Ethics at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from which he retired in 2006. There, Wernick managed the EPA’s ethics program and advised senior political appointees and career officials on ethics matters such as conflicts of interest, acceptance of gifts, preferential treatment and post-government employment.
In 2004, he was recognized for his years of service in executive branch ethics by being honored with the Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
Retirement hasn’t diminished his dedication to public service. Wernick and his wife, Sharyl, have moved to Lewisville, N.C., where he tutors a 5th grader at an inner city school, prepares tax returns for low income individuals and serves on the town’s Parks and Recreation Board.
“I have always tried to take that spirit of public service with me in my career in the federal government,” says Wernick. — Julie Korbar