As the honorary chair of the Drew Society, which recognizes leadership annual gifts, Douglas J. Schneller C’84 says his involvement was motivated by his experience as an undergraduate. “I loved Drew,” Doug recalls, “and thought the academics were outstanding. I also formed some of the most important friendships of my life.”
Currently a transactional attorney, Doug represents commercial banks, investment banks, and hedge funds that invest in distressed situations, such as companies in bankruptcy. Since June 2010 he has led the Distressed Investing team of the New York firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. Previous to this he was a partner at Nixon Peabody LLP.
Doug says his liberal arts education at Drew fostered his intellectual curiosity, but also helped him hone the skills of thinking creatively and piecing together disparate information, which are essential to the work he does now. He credits his advisor, Edye Lawler, professor of German and (more recently) Dean of Educational Services, with challenging him in a kind and supportive but also intellectually rigorous way. “She made me work,” he recalls, “and she made me want to be better.”
“I know that there are others like me—alumni who have good feelings about what their experience at Drew meant to them, what they got out of it, in terms of relationships and opportunities,” Doug says. But he is concerned that the rate for alumni giving at Drew is fairly low relative to peer schools. “Showing our appreciation for Drew through gifts is vitally important,” he says, emphasizing how increased levels of participation expands the school’s eligibility for grants and government funding.
In addition to his involvement with The Drew Society, Doug takes advantage of other opportunities to remain connected to and participate with Drew. He balances a demanding career and dedication to his family, which includes two young children, and also makes time to participate in events for Drew undergraduates. He recently moderated a panel discussion for pre-law students, and is pleased to see how Drew has expanded its business offerings for undergraduates. “I used to be a big proponent of keeping the Academy pure,” he says. “But I’m impressed with the Wall Street semester and other ways in which Drew is making the liberal arts degree even more relevant.”
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