In the early 1960s, local residents in the seaside resort towns of the Hamptons established a committee to build a university that would serve the Eastern Long Island communities. In partnership with Long Island University, they purchased the Tucker Mill Inn, a 60-acre estate with a historic windmill in the Shinnecock Hills. In fall 1963, Southampton College of Long Island University welcomed its first class of 250 students—43 women and 207 men.
Among that first class was Sands Point native Caroline Monti, who graduated from an all-girls Catholic high school and wanted to stay close to home for college. She applied to only one school, the recently founded Southampton College.
On the other side of campus was Arthur Saladino, a recent graduate of Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx. After hearing about the new school on Long Island’s East End, Arthur visited the college and met Southampton’s director of admissions, who accepted him on the spot.
Two weeks into the semester, fate took over. As Caroline was riding her bike beneath the verdant late summer boughs of the tree-lined main lane of campus to Southampton Hall, her chain broke. A handsome fellow approached and offered to fix her bicycle.
“It was love at first sight,” said Arthur. “Fifty-two years later we are still grateful to Southampton College for bringing us together,” added Caroline.
Fifty-two years, four children, 11 grandchildren, and a monumental family legacy of philanthropy and advocacy that has saved innumerable lives and revolutionized cancer care in Long Island, that is.
Engaged while still in school, and following their parents’ demands, they agreed to postpone their wedding until after graduation. As the College’s first class, Caroline and Arthur were “seniors” for four years, building camaraderie with fellow classmates and experiencing a rapid pace of growth as the campus and student body expanded, academic course offerings increased, and the faculty nearly tripled in size. “We were very much a family, even with the professors. It was an exciting time to be there,” Caroline said.
In June 1967, 131 seniors celebrated Southampton College’s first commencement. The Saladinos were married mere days after graduation at Monti’s Town and Country, a regal catering hall in Hempstead, New York, owned by Caroline’s parents, Tita and Joseph Monti H’98. The young couple moved to Madrid, Spain, where Arthur attended medical school, and they welcomed their first child, Danielle. They returned to New York when Caroline’s younger brother, Don, was diagnosed with myeloblastic leukemia.
After a 15-month battle against the cancer, 16-year-old Don Monti passed away in June 1972. The Monti family, already pillars of the community, committed themselves to improving cancer care and research. They founded the Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation in their son’s memory and, shortly thereafter, established the Don Monti Division of Oncology and Hematology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, where no such specialized care was offered before.
Caroline Monti Saladino took an active role in the foundation and worked alongside her mother to expand its reach, while Arthur joined the Monti’s upscale hospitality and catering business, which by then included the Crest Hollow Country Club. Following the passing of Tita (2006) and Joseph Monti (2007)—who were jointly recognized by LIU with honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees in 1998 for their contributions to cancer care, research, and philanthropy—Caroline became president of the foundation and Arthur its co-chairman, alongside his brother-in-law, Richard Monti.
“In the beginning, the foundation was strictly focused on patient care and advocacy,” said Caroline, reflecting that her brother’s experience led the family to pay close attention to the comfort of patients as they underwent treatment. That focus has impacted countless lives. The Don Monti Division of Oncology and Hematology treats more cancer patients than any other facility in the region and has now includes the Don Monti Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit, the first medical facility of its kind on Long Island. The foundation also expanded care across the island through cancer treatment centers at hospitals in Huntington, Glen Cove, and Plainview. A recent partnership was established with Boca Raton Regional Hospital that allows patients treated at centers on Long Island to easily continue chemotherapy treatment in Boca Raton, Florida.
Patient care and comfort remain the foundation’s main focus; particularly ensuring medical care is provided by superior professionals in a physical environment that is welcoming and comfortable. But Arthur explained that research and education are also integral to the fight against cancer. In 2009, the foundation opened the Joseph and Tita Monti Research Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, increasing research capacity at the laboratory by 40 percent. Support from the foundation also made it possible to expand the Cord Blood Program at North Shore University Hospital in 2010, which significantly increased the number of life-saving stem-cell transplants that can be offered to patients each year.
“Education is a major component in preventing all types of cancer through genetic testing and counseling,” Caroline said. In recent years, the foundation launched the Joseph, Tita, and Don Monti Genetics and Human Development Laboratory at LIU Post, a facility that supports the Master of Science in Genetic Counseling, the only program of its kind on Long Island. The facility is especially near and dear to Caroline and Arthur’s hearts because it is the first time Joseph, Tita, and Don Monti’s names are joined together in a shared legacy.
Since its inception, the Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation has invested more than $42 million into improving cancer treatment in Long Island. “It is truly a blessing to be able to see firsthand the positive impact that we are making in our fight against cancer,” said Caroline.
More than five decades after a fateful September day on a beautiful college campus, the Saladinos continue to nourish a family legacy of generosity and determination to revolutionize cancer treatment that began over forty years ago and that will thrive for generations to come. Many of Caroline and Arthur's children and grandchildren are already deeply involved in the family mission to provide treatment, solace, and hope to patients and families from the East End to the North Shore.