The Names on the Plaque

Twenty years have passed since Sept. 11, but the lives of those lost will never be forgotten. In remembrance of those alumni, we share their stories.
Read time: 9 minutes

On Sept. 11, 2001, the fall term had just begun at U-M. Students were still settling into classes and residence halls, still acquainting themselves with professors and newfound friends. But the shock waves that reverberated around the nation on that day also reached the University.

Those on campus found many ways to mourn. An estimated 15,000 people turned out for a candlelight vigil on Sept. 11 on the Diag. Faculty, students, and community members performed to a capacity crowd at Hill Auditorium on Sept. 14 in a concert billed as “A Musical Meditation.” Donors waited in line for hours to give blood at the Michigan Union. And at The Rock, someone painted American flags and the words “God Bless.”

Among the larger University community, news spread of alumni who lost their lives that day. All told, a heartbreakingly high number of alumni were listed among the victims of the attacks: 18. On the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, the Alumni Association installed a memorial to them in the Alumni Center—a simple plaque bearing the name and graduation year of each person.

Twenty years have passed since Sept. 11, but the lives of those lost will never be forgotten. In remembrance of those alumni, we share the names from that plaque and their stories here.

David D. Alger, MBA’68

Ross School of Business

As executive vice president and chief financial officer of Fred Alger Management, David Alger operated from the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower.

He was the business school’s 1997 commencement speaker, chaired its annual fund, and was a member of its Visiting Committee. His service to the larger University included membership on the U-M Investment Advisory Committee. Before attending U-M, he earned his undergraduate degree in history at Harvard.

Mr. Alger often appeared on television shows to discuss Wall Street investments and was known for training analysts in rigorous research methods. He wrote “Raging Bull: How to Invest in the Growth Stocks of the 90s” and joined the firm of his brother, Frederick, in 1972.

In 2001, the business school recognized him with its Alumni Achievement Award, now named in his honor.

Yeneneh Betru, MD’95

Medical School

Yeneneh Betru, a native of Ethiopia who was raised in Saudi Arabia, was on American Airlines Flight 77. For him, it was a connecting flight to Los Angeles from Ethiopia, where he had just been married.

Dr. Betru immigrated to the United States in 1982 with dreams of becoming a physician. He studied at the Abbey School in Colorado before attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and then U-M. A resident of Burbank, Calif., he served as director of medical affairs for IPC-The Hospitalist Co.

In 1998, Dr. Betru flew to Ethiopia to aid his grandmother’s doctors when she became ill; she died due to a lack of equipment and supplies. Determined to change such conditions, he was in the process of creating a kidney dialysis clinic in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Brian P. Dale, JD’91

Law School

Brian P. Dale was a co-founder of Blue Capital Management, a New York City-based investment firm. He led the company’s legal and accounting-related activities and oversaw its internal accounting and investor reporting.

Valedictorian of his high school’s class of 1976, Mr. Dale graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts from Dartmouth College, where he also earned a master’s of business administration. He began his career as a certified public accountant and was a manager and senior consultant with Price Waterhouse before pursuing his law degree at the U-M.

Mr. Dale was traveling on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles on Sept. 11. He was supposed to have flown out on Sept. 10 for a business trip but instead took a flight the next morning.

Paul Friedman, MSE’83

College of Engineering

Paul Friedman, a senior management consultant for Emergence Consulting, was on board American Airlines Flight 11 on Sept. 11.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Friedman received a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1978 from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree in business administration from New York University in 1987. He began his career at Bell Labs in Whippany, New Jersey, and went on to work for American Management Systems, Cap Gemini, Ernst & Young, and Fleet Bank.

In May 2001, he and his wife adopted a little Korean boy, with whom he spent the day of Sept. 10 before flying out the next morning.

James M. Gartenberg, ’87

College of LSA

James M. Gartenberg was leaving his firm, Julien J. Studley, Inc., on the 86th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 to start his new job in midtown Manhattan the following day.

As president of the U-M Club of New York for 12 years, he provided leadership to 1,500 alumni in the New York area. He had recently resigned as club president to serve on the National Advisory Committee for the U-M Library and Task Force. Following his death, a scholarship fund was created in his name at U-M.

Mr. Gartenberg was survived by his wife and their 2-year-old daughter; their second child was born after he perished that day. The family appears in the documentary “Rebuilding Hope: The Children of 9/11,” beginning Sept. 7, 2021.

Steven Goldstein, ’88

College of LSA

Steven Goldstein had been working for Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center as a computer analyst for only two weeks on Sept. 11. Before starting there, he had worked from home developing an internet company that Cantor had recently purchased.

A New Jersey native, Mr. Goldstein enjoyed his opportunity to leave home to study at U-M. After college, he went on to a career in advertising, accounting, and trading, which eventually led to him creating his own company, which traded weather derivatives online.

Mr. Goldstein had known his wife since they were young children, and they often ran into each other throughout their lives before being set up on a blind date.

Darya Lin, ’91, MSE’97

College of Engineering

On the morning of Sept. 11, Darya Lin was working with her Aon clients on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center’s south tower. She was last seen helping a pregnant client on the 78th floor before the tower collapsed.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from U-M, she worked for the University of California at San Diego Hospital Quality Management Program. She then returned to U-M and obtained her master’s degree in industrial and operations engineering.

After graduation, Ms. Lin worked with the quality management group of Intel, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Then she joined the firm of Bricker and Associates (later Keane Consulting Group) of Chicago as a senior consultant in 1998; she was later promoted to manager and then to senior manager.

Todd Ouida, ’98

College of LSA

On Sept. 11, Todd Ouida was developing a career as a foreign currency options trader as an employee of Cantor Fitzgerald. He had accepted a job offer from the company after completing an internship there following his junior year at U-M.

He worked on the 105th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center. His father, who worked in the same building, escaped safely. To honor their son, who suffered from a panic disorder as a child, his parents established the Todd Ouida Children’s Foundation.

Through that foundation, they support research into childhood depression and anxiety disorders at U-M. In addition, the Eisenberg Family Depression Center at U-M holds the annual Todd Ouida Lecture.

Manish Patel, ’02

Manish Patel, a resident of Edison, New Jersey, was employed by Euro Brokers Inc. in the north tower of World Trade Center on Sept. 11. An economics major born in India, he left the University before graduation but was posthumously granted his bachelor’s degree in August 2002.

Laurence Polatsch, ’90

College of LSA

Laurence Polatsch worked as a partner in equities sales at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center.

He attended U-M along with his younger brother, who was also in the same fraternity, before training as an attorney at Syracuse Law School. He made the career change from attorney to equities trader, his father said, so he wouldn’t have to “fight with people the rest of his life.”

Two of his best friends and fellow U-M alums, Gregory Richards and Scott Weingard, also perished on Sept. 11. In their memory, friends established the GLS Memorial Fund, which awards scholarships to U-M students in need of financial assistance. In addition, the Laurence Polatsch Memorial Fund assists worthwhile organizations, including an animal therapy program fund at the University.

Stephen Poulos, ’77, MMUS’78

School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Stephen Poulos, a manager of Aon Corporation was working on the 103rd floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

He had trained for 20 years as a baritone, but he gave up music in 1996—quitting the church choir where he met his wife and ceasing to attend the opera—to pursue a career in information technology. He had received a promotion the week before Sept. 11.

More than a year before that, however, Mr. Poulos returned to the music he loved, expressing himself often in an online forum about opera music. In his honor, a member of the close-knit online community burned a CD containing many of his favorite arias. Another member, a violist, played at Mr. Poulos’ memorial service.

Gregory Richards, ’92

College of LSA

A big part of Mr. Richards’ life at U-M was Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity—the same fraternity of two of his best friends, Laurence Polatsch and Scott Weingard, both of whom also died on Sept. 11. A fund in their names, the GLS Memorial Fund, awards scholarships to U-M students in need of financial assistance.

Following graduation, Mr. Richards took a position with AVM Investment, where he learned to trade and sell derivatives, demonstrating mathematical talent. From there, he went to Cantor Fitzgerald, which had a long connection with his family, to take advantage of an opportunity to start his own structured fixed-income products group.

On Sept. 11, he was vice president of corporate development for e-Speed, a subsidiary of Cantor Fitzgerald with offices in the World Trade Center.

Joshua Rosenthal, ’79

College of LSA

Josh Rosenthal worked in the south tower of the World Trade Center for Fiduciary Trust Company International.

Following his graduation from U-M, he earned his master’s degree in public affairs in 1981 from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, where he was a Truman Fellow. His career took him to the New York Mercantile Exchange, Amarada Hess, JP Morgan, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art before he became a senior vice president at Fiduciary Trust.

He always remembered his U-M roots, serving on the University’s Investment Advisory Committee. After his death, his family and friends established the Josh Rosenthal Education Fund at the Ford School of Public Policy. The fund supports lectures, seminars, student research, and other programs.

Christina S. Ryook, ’98

College of LSA

Christina Ryook worked in the human resources division of Cantor Fitzgerald on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center.

While at U-M, she served as an officer in the Asian American Association and Korean Students Association (KSA). She organized a cultural day program with KSA for adopted Korean children that won recognition as best of its kind by the United Asian Associations Organization (UAAO). She was also a practitioner of traditional Korean dance, participating in the annual program of the Generation Asian Pacific Association, hosted by UAAO.

She was continuing her education at Eastern Michigan University, pursuing a double master’s degree in education and history. About one year before Sept. 11, she decided to take a break from school to work at Cantor Fitzgerald.

Meta Fuller (Higginbothan) Waller, ’73


Meta Waller, a special programs manager for the secretary of the Army, was working at her desk at the Pentagon on Sept. 11 when American Airlines Flight 77 flew into the building.

After attending U-M, Ms. Waller earned a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1982. On Sept. 11, she had just returned from a trip to Durban, South Africa, where she was part of a delegation attending the United Nations conference on racism.

Ms. Waller, a widow whose daughter disappeared several years before, was the granddaughter of Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller, the first black psychiatrist in the United States.

Scott Weingard, ’93

Ross School of Business

Following his graduation from U-M, Mr. Weingard headed to New York City, where he joined Hypnotic Hats, a company his brother and friends had created. He did well at the company, which made baseball caps, and quickly became operations manager for the firm. He left about one year before Sept. 11 for Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center, where he became involved in equities trading.

Although living in New York, he returned each year to Ann Arbor for football games, enjoyed two Rose Bowl games in California, and kept up many friendships from his U-M days.

Among those friends were Laurence Polatsch and Gregory Richards, both of whom also died on Sept. 11. A fund in their names, the GLS Memorial Fund, awards scholarships to U-M students in need of financial assistance.

Meredith L. Whalen, ’00

Ross School of Business

A research analyst for Fred Alger Management since June 2000, Meredith Whalen worked on the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center.

While studying at the business school, she served as a peer career counselor during her second year. She regularly counseled students interested in the investment field. Her boss and fellow U-M alum, David Alger, who also died on Sept. 11, had described her as a “rising star who rarely left work at five.”

The Meredith L. Whalen Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Meredith L. Whalen Memorial Endowment Fund, both at the University, were created in her memory.

Marc Scott Zeplin, ’90, MBA’93

College of LSA and Ross School of Business

Marc Zeplin worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, starting as an equities trader and rising to the position of vice president. On Sept. 11, he worked on the 104th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Mr. Zeplin majored in political science as an undergraduate and was in the Pilot Program at Alice Lloyd Hall. An enthusiastic sports fan, he enjoyed broadcasting games on the University’s radio station while a student.

He was survived by his wife, two young sons, his parents, and his sister. His family established the Marc S. Zeplin Foundation in 2002 to support children who lost a parent or loved one on Sept. 11.

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