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Alumni Spotlight: Dave Bagatelle '86

Alumni Spotlight: Dave Bagatelle '86

Once a Cardinal, Always a Cardinal; Bagatelle's Loyalty to Wesleyan Remains Strong

Dave Bagatelle grew up in upstate N.Y. and moved to Wayne, N.J. when he was 13 years old. The idea of playing small college football originated from his father, Warren, who played football and lacrosse at Union College. Bagatelle, who grew up a Buffalo Bills season ticket holder, was an all-league center and defensive tackle at Wayne Hills High School.

Looking to follow in his father's footsteps, Bagatelle eyed NESCAC and Ivy League schools, as well as Union. Narrowing it down to Wesleyan and Cornell, his choice became clear during his official visit in Middletown. After meeting the late Bill Macdermott – then Head Coach – Bagatelle fell in love with the school, the coach, and the idea of playing right away.

Despite excelling on both sides of the ball in high school, the undersized lineman played defense for the Cardinals and started three years at nose guard before moving to defensive tackle his senior year. Aside from his commitment to the gridiron, Bagatelle was very involved in other aspects of the University and "took advantage of everything the school had to offer." He was a member and president of DKE, a rush chairman, a teaching assistant for American politics, and an intern at the Connecticut State House, among others.

"I liked the school because it wasn't homogeneous like where I went to high school," he said. "There were a lot of different kind of people, which I enjoyed. I realized early on that the real world wasn't going to be like Wayne, N.J., so I sort of needed to familiarize myself with different kinds of people. That was a big reason why I chose Wesleyan."

Now a successful business man – Executive Vice President and President of New York Metro Markets –Bagatelle's original plan when he enrolled at Wesleyan was to become a lawyer. "I wanted to be a lawyer until my senior year," he said. "I took the law boards, I did very well and won an award for my scores. I applied to law school, and just started interviewing with different companies for practice."

After getting waitlisted at his first choice, New York University (NYU), Bagatelle was accepted at the University's business school in the public accounting program, which allowed him to work and get his Master's in Business Administration (MBA) at the same time. Despite getting into his second choice for law school, Notre Dame, Bagatelle deferred and pursued the business route. "As it turned out, I got a call from NYU law school that summer, after I had already started business school, and they had a spot for me but I had to turn it down. I was really enjoying business school."

After graduating from the NYU Stern School of Business with his MBA, Bagatelle passed the Certified Public Accountant exam and started his banking career in 1989. He has been in the banking business in New York City ever since.

In his first job following grad school, Bagatelle was named the Retail Area Manager and Business & Professional Banking Manager in New York City for M&T Bank. In 1993, he took a job as the Managing Director at Republic National Bank, and was a member of the Senior Management Committee of the Consumer Financial Services Division – the third largest consumer bank in the New York metropolitan area at the time.

Bagatelle served in that capacity until 2000, when he became one of three executives that founded Signature Bank. He served as the Executive Vice President, was a member of the Bank's executive committee, and President and CEO of Signature Securities. Signature is considered by many to be the most successful start-up bank in U.S. history. It currently has over $40 billion in assets.

His success only continued from there. In 2007, he founded the Herald National Bank (HNB) and served as Founder, Director, President and CEO. He grew the institution to $500 million in assets in just 13 months. Bagatelle's unique relationship-based business model enabled HNB to become profitable just 20 months after inception. HNB was the largest "stand alone" de novo bank capital raise ever in New York State, and was sold to Bank United in 2011 for a premium to book value.

Now, the Executive Vice President and President of New York Metro Markets for Sterling National Bank – a $14 billion commercial bank based in Yonkers, N.Y. – Bagatelle is responsible for all of the bank's business activities in New York City, Long Island and Fairfield County, and has actively increased the number of commercial teams in those regions.

With all his success in the banking and financial services industry, Bagatelle never forgets his roots and remains loyal to Wesleyan, and more specifically, the Athletic Department. "I try to support the program however I can, whether it be fundraising, getting involved with the parents (of student-athletes), mentoring kids, hiring kids as interns, or hiring kids as full-time employees."

Bagatelle has hired numerous Wesleyan alums, and currently has three full-time employees and three interns working at his bank. He also has a keen eye for talent, and serves as an unofficial recruiter for the University by scouting high school games in New York and New Jersey.

The 1986 alum also played a pivotal role in the acquisition of former Head Coach, now Director of Athletics, Mike Whalen '83. With the program faltering after several losing seasons, Bagatelle and a few alums figured it was time for a change, and that's when they approached then-Director of Athletics, John Biddiscombe, and Vice President of University Relations, Barbara-Jan Wilson, with the idea to bring Whalen back to Wesleyan. Included in the package was then-assistant, now Head Coach, Dan DiCenzo. The duo, which came over from Williams, have guided the Cardinals to four consecutive winning seasons, a 24-9 record since 2012, and a NESCAC and Little Three title in 2013.

Despite his work commitment and loyalty to Wesleyan, Bagatelle still finds time to coach his daughter's girls lacrosse team, serve as the Executive Director and Trustee of both the American Legion Jersey Boys State Program and its Charitable Foundation, a member of the Board of Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America, a member of the Board of Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, a Board Member of Sterling National Bank's Charitable Foundation, and many other philanthropic and civic activities. He currently resides in Mahway, N.J. with his two daughters.

Written by Mike O'Brien, Director of Athletic Communications

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