Bank founder, author discusses place of religion in #MeToo era



hay founded Signature Bank with Iona alumnus Joseph DePaolo. Shay dedicated an award to DePaolo at the annual Iona Scholarship Gala in Manhattan on April 12.

Stacey Franciamore, Assistant News Editor

Iona College welcomed Scott A. Shay, an author and business leader, to discuss themes focusing on religion and atheism in a lecture titled “Moses, Monotheism and the #MeToo Movement” on April 10.


Shay also discussed his book “In Good Faith: Questioning Religion and Atheism,” which his lecture was based on.


Shay examined common criticism of the Bible and religion by referencing various Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives, including Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, Iman Shasmi Ali and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who are religious scholars and clergy.

Shay also connected his ideas to contemporary movements and issues.

“I was intrigued by the new perspective he offered regarding the #MeToo movement,” senior Kade Lamontagne said in an email interview. “Connecting the idea of idolatry to modern individuals, many of whom have celebrity status, was not something I had ever considered. His words made sense though, and definitely gave me something to consider exploring further.”

In his book, Shay offers an analysis of the relationship between faith, reason and ethics while making connections to religion, psychology, history and philosophy. During the lecture, he shared his findings and explained why the Bible is still a relevant text.

“I believe that Mr. Shay offered a unique set of (what could be interpreted as controversial) beliefs regarding faith, religion, and scientific rationality,” Lamontagne said.

According to Shay, he has always been interested in religion and its greater significance in the world.


Before publishing his book, Shay worked on Wall Street and explored different aspects of the business world before co-founding a commercial bank.


“He co-founded Signature Bank, along with Iona alumnus, Joseph DePaolo, and transformed it into one of America’s fastest growing banks,” Paul Sutera, senior vice president for advancement and external affairs at Iona College, said.


Shay has served as the chairman of the board of directors of Signature Bank of New York since its formation in 2001. Additionally, he has served as a director of Signature Securities Group since its establishment and as chairman of the board since December 2006.


Shay has not only played a vital role in the business industry, but has built a relationship with the Iona community.


“Specific to Iona, Scott has been very generous with his time, talent and treasure,” Sutera said.


One of Shay’s contributions to Iona includes his establishment of the Joseph DePaolo Endowed Leadership Scholarship in honor of his co-founder.


“When Joe was honored at the Trustees Scholarship Award Gala, Scott honored his co-founder by establishing the Joseph DePaolo Endowed Leadership Scholarship, which was announced at the Gala, as a surprise to Mr. DePaolo,” Sutera said. “The annual scholarship is awarded to a student-athlete who embodies the character and achievements of the person it is named after.”


Shay has also founded a Hebrew school, spoke at a TEDx talk at the New York Stock Exchange in 2012 and published another the book “Getting Our Groove Back: How to Energize American Jewry” in 2007.