Mark Roman attended Indiana State during the university’s golden age of athletics. It was during his junior year when the Sycamore basketball team was led by legend Larry Bird and made it to the finals of the NCAA Basketball Tournament in 1979.
“That was an amazing run by Indiana State, and a very exciting time for our university and the city of Terre Haute,” said Roman, who still is a big fan of Sycamore athletics and a current season ticket holder for men’s basketball.
Both Roman and his wife, Cyndi, graduated in 1980. He credits his experiences at State and the relationships he made there for his life’s successes. Roman’s major was secondary education /vocational education.
“Indiana State provided me with opportunities,” Roman said. “My education at ISU has opened doors for employment and without it, I wouldn’t have been able to have the job opportunities that I have had with my Indiana State education. In my opinion, I would never have been as successful as I was.”
As for friends, Roman cherishes the ones he made at Indiana State.
“When I went to ISU in fall of 1976, I was part of the ATO fraternity, and still have good friends from that part of my life at Indiana State,” he said. “Former ATO chapter adviser John Newton still works closely with ISU (as emeritus vice president for alumni affairs and constituent relations).
“Every Indiana State event I go to, Newton is there, along with Rex Kendall — he’s Mr. ISU. Rex does a fantastic job as executive director of the Alumni Association. Whatever is going on with ISU, Rex is there. He is so friendly and just a fantastic person. Through ISU and the Alumni Association, I’ve been able to meet people like that, and enjoy those friendships that last a lifetime,” Roman said.
Now, being a Sycamore is a family affair. His son Matt attended Indiana State, and his daughter-in-law, Amy, graduated from State and now works in the Office of the President and the Provost. Matt, Cyndi and, daughter Mandi Newlin work at the family business, SMC Inc., a sheet metal contracting company located in Terre Haute, started in 1974 by Cyndi’s father.
After graduating from State, Roman worked in the insurance business for 18 years, both with Hartford and State Farm. Then, in 1998, Roman left the insurance business and purchased Carosi’s Italian Restaurant, which he owned and operated for 15 years.
“I enjoyed it,” Roman said. “There were a lot of hours and a lot of work. I do miss seeing all of my clients, as we had regular clientele that you would expect to see each and every week. Also, I miss my employees, as many of them were ISU students, working part-time. I had a lot of wonderful students that worked for me over the years.
“But the hours and the other things that go into running a restaurant … I don’t miss a lot of that.”
Nowadays, Roman has more regular hours working at Coldwell Banker/Troy Helman Realtors in Terre Haute. With more personal time, Roman spends it giving back to the community.
He recently helped assemble bicycles for Chances and Services for Youth’s program called Bikes for Tykes. Roman had donated money to the program for years, but just this year he helped put together the bicycles with other volunteers, including students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology as well as the Alumni Association staff members from State.
“The Bikes for Tykes program results in bicycles being donated at Christmas time to needy children throughout the area, for the kids that might not get any gifts for Christmas,” Roman said.
Roman said the students at Rose-Hulman were able to assemble 400 bicycles in about two hours. “It was a very rewarding experience,” he said.
Roman is no stranger to community service. He was a member of the Terre Haute Children’s Museum board of directors. When it originally opened in 1988, the museum was located in the basement of the Central Christian Church.
About eight years ago, Roman was involved in the decision to build a new, $5 million facility for the museum located at 727 Wabash Ave. Over the years, the museum has helped to educate more than 230,000 adults and children from more than 22 counties in Indiana and Illinois.
“The museum’s move into their new building really helped to rejuvenate downtown Terre Haute,” Roman said. “There has been a lot of development that has really tied Indiana State to the downtown district. The transformation of the campus has been amazing. I am very proud of how Indiana State has grown over the years, and I am proud to be a Sycamore!”