An alum’s unusual path to the pinnacle of the mortgage market.
By Darrach Dolan
David Lucchino ’89 is pretty good with numbers. No, he’s great with numbers. He met his wife, Jane, on Friday, Oct. 27, 1989. He started his first job in finance at Prudential Home Mortgage Company on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 1989. He even remembers the exit numbers for Carlisle on Interstate 81, although he hasn’t taken those exits in decades. It is just as well he’s a numbers man when you consider his team at Freddie Mac will handle $1 trillion in cash in 2022 in support of 1,800 mortgage companies and 13 million homeowners.
However, there is one date he doesn’t remember — the date he came to Wilson to complete his college application. Yet it’s a day burned into his memory.
He remembers sitting in a wingback chair in a high-ceiling room opposite the woman in charge of admissions (he forgets her name). After some small talk, she told him that his energy and background would make him a great addition to the College. She rearranged some papers then looked him in the eye. There was one question she needed to ask, a question everyone he’d dealt with during the application process was asking, why had he applied to a women’s college?
“My reaction was a mixture of horror and humiliation,” Lucchino said. “I did not know I was applying to a women’s college.”
At the time women were demanding equality in the workplace and trying to get into West Point and other institutions that had been exclusively male. The speculation on campus was that Lucchino was trying to do the inverse: break down a barrier and let men into women’s colleges. “But no, I didn’t know [it was a women’s college], and she saw it on my face,” he said. “With grace and poise, she said, ‘Well Dave, we’re considering this new program…’”
She told him about the Adult Degree Program, and he jumped at the chance to be one of the first ADP students. He entered the College as a full-time day student with a schedule no different from traditional undergraduates. “It was weird. I’m a 22 year old guy in classes entirely of women.”
Lucchino’s journey has been anything but a straight line. “Even my path from a high school degree to a college degree, took seven years and five colleges before I got there.” He went from high school to pre-med at college, before realizing medicine was not for him. He left the college and moved to Fayetteville, Pa., to help his father run a dress factory. While there, he took courses at several local colleges and considered becoming a classics major. It wasn’t until he arrived at Wilson that he found his true path.
“I loved the idea of finishing a liberal arts degree. And the experience itself was really great but what I really got at Wilson was a little bit of the direction my life was going to take.” There was one person, in particular, responsible for helping him find his passion. “[My economics professor Calvin Blair] was phenomenal. I grew to love economics … Which is, of course, the direction I would go in for the next 30 years.”
At Wilson, most students were fine with him being the only man. However, there were a few who didn’t appreciate his presence and asked him not to “desecrate” their graduation by receiving his diploma in person. “I was polite,” he said but told them, “If I have to put on pumps and a sundress, I’m walking up there. It’s been a long time for me.”
After graduation, he worked for a mortgage company in Frederick, Md., and has stayed more-or-less within the home mortgage sphere. “I found that I had a love for working with people and process,” he said. “The levels of complexity of the roles that I took grew and grew over the decades. I worked with some of the largest banks in the country or on the planet, Wells Fargo, Citi Group, and Chase.”
Now at Freddie Mac, as senior vice president, Single Family Operations, he is proud of playing his part in supporting the company’s mission to “serve America’s homebuyers, homeowners, and renters by providing liquidity, stability, and affordability to the housing market.”
Lucchino may be a senior officer in a large and influential company. However, when asked to describe himself to the Wilson community, he says, “I am first and foremost the father of twins. My life revolves around them.” At 21, they are both in college. He says he would give Wilson students the same advice he gives his children: “Yeah, you want to focus on your grades but have fun too. Enjoy the experience. Find out what it is that you’re curious about what it is you enjoy learning. It’s what you enjoy learning and doing that will hopefully drive your career path.”