Dean Boyce announced that the keynote speech at the college’s class day will be given by Rocco Commisso, SEAS ‘71, in an email sent to Columbia Engineering students on Thursday afternoon.

Rocco Commisso, SEAS ’71 and the founder and CEO of Mediacom, will give the keynote speech at Columbia Engineering’s Class Day, according to an email sent by Dean Boyce on Thursday afternoon. 

Commisso is the founder of Mediacom Communications Corporation, which is currently the nation’s fifth largest cable provider. Mediacom was founded in 1995, after Commisso had already established himself as a successful businessman. Mediacom is focused on serving smaller towns and cities, with a good proportion of its customers being from the Midwest. 

Commisso has also worked for Pfizer, Chase Manhattan Bank, and the Royal Bank of Canada. Prior to founding Mediacom, Commisso was the CFO and executive vice president at Cablevision Industry, which was the nation’s eighth-largest cable company before it was sold to Time Warner. 

At SEAS, Commisso studied industrial engineering and operations research. He attended on a full scholarship and was co-captain of the 1970 soccer team. He later attended Columbia Business School and graduated in 1975.

Columbia Engineering’s class day will take place on Thursday, April 29.

Announcement from the Engineering College News Page:

Rocco B. Commisso ’71SEAS, ’75BUS, founder, chairman, and CEO of Mediacom Communications Corporation, will give the keynote address to Columbia Engineering students at Class Day on Thursday, April 29th. Commisso, who earned a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering and operations research from the engineering school, will deliver his message as part of a virtual Class Day graduation ceremony.

“It’s a great honor to be invited to speak to the Class of 2021 on the 50th anniversary of my own graduation from Columbia Engineering,” said Commisso. “These students have weathered the COVID pandemic and are now ready to start a new chapter. I admire their spirit and look forward to sharing with them some of my own lifetime experiences as they embark upon their career journeys.”

Born in Calabria, Italy, Commisso moved to the U.S. at age 12 and later attended Columbia Engineering on a full scholarship. While an undergraduate, he also played soccer for Columbia and was co-captain of the 1970 team. Commisso went on to obtain his MBA from Columbia Business School and has worked for Pfizer, Chase Manhattan Bank, and the Royal Bank of Canada after Columbia. From 1986 to 1995, Commisso was executive vice president, CFO, and director at Cablevision Industries, which he helped elevate to the nation’s eighth largest cable television company before being sold to Time Warner.

Building on his experience at Cablevision, Commisso started Mediacom in 1995 out of his basement to bring advanced communications services to underserved American communities in 22 states. Now privately held by the Commisso family, Mediacom has grown to become the nation’s fifth largest cable provider while delivering 96 consecutive quarters of year-over-year revenue gains.

“Rocco is a true American success story and we are delighted that he will be our keynote speaker,” said Mary C. Boyce, Dean of Columbia Engineering and Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor.

“His example of tenacity and perseverance over many years exemplifies the Columbia spirit and truly resonates with our students, who have shown great resilience and purpose while navigating a challenging year to reach this milestone.”

Commisso serves on the board of directors of C-Span and Cyndx LLC, and previously served on the boards of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and Cable Television Laboratories. He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the National Italian American Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, the cable industry’s Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. He has also been inducted into the SUNY New Paltz School of Business Hall of Fame, the Cable Center Hall of Fame, the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.

A lifelong soccer enthusiast, Rocco is the owner and chairman of the New York Cosmos as well as owner and president of Florence, Italy-based club ACF Fiorentina. He is a longtime supporter of the Columbia Lions soccer teams and was inducted into the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. Columbia’s Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium is named in his honor. In 2020, he delivered the annual Frank N. Magill lecture to Columbia Engineering students.

Image via email from Dean Boyce