Long one of Towson University’s most loyal and respected supporters, alumnus Francis “Fran” Soistman ’79 received an honorary doctor of human letters degree during the College of Business and Economics‘ winter commencement ceremony on Dec. 17.
Soistman earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Towson and later graduated from The Stanford University Executive Program. He credits both programs as the foundation for his success.
As executive vice president of Aetna and president of the Government Services segment, Soistman is responsible for driving growth in the company’s Medicare, Medicaid and public and labor businesses, including the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program business. He was previously executive vice president, chief operating officer and co-founder of Jessamine Healthcare, a firm focused on strategic investment opportunities in the health care industry. He also held several leadership positions with Coventry Health Care, including executive vice president for the Individual Consumer and Government Business Division.
In 2004 he received the Ernst & Young Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Health Care Technology/Services category.
His relationship with Towson University has included a variety of volunteer roles: a place on the Board of Visitors, vice presidency of the Towson University Foundation Board, and membership in the Athletics Advisory Board and the Athletics Solutions Committee. He also serves as a member of the University System of Maryland Chancellor’s Advisory Council, as well as the University System of Maryland Foundation Board of Directors.
“He approaches complex issues with the university’s best interests at heart—unfailingly thoughtful, inclusive and focused on the ultimate goal,” the honorary degree language states.
His philanthropic support for Towson University is notable for its scope as well as its beneficence. He established the Francis S. Soistman Endowment for Top Ten Scholars, which defrays the educational expenses of economically disadvantaged students from Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The Endowment Fund for Faculty Excellence and the The Fran Soistman and Family Endowment provide scholarship support to students in the College of Business and Economics.
In addition, when the university was fundraising to name its new stadium, Soistman offered the idea of soliciting donors to make a $19,000 contribution to honor the Baltimore Colts’ No. 19, Johnny Unitas, and he became the first to pledge and pay. Soistman also provided the lead gift to establish the Center Court Club for men’s basketball and took the lead in helping Athletics raise more than $150,000 in a few days to support the Tiger football team as it traveled on the road to the Football Championship Series (FCS) playoffs.
The Towson University Alumni Association recognized Soistman’s professional and philanthropic achievements with its 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award.