Alumni Service Award

Gerard Lian is grateful that he arrived at Drew in the aftermath of the Vietnam War:  it was a time, he says, when young people were taking study seriously again, trying to create change not by protest, but by working through the system.

Gerry chose Drew because it was far enough, both in distance and atmosphere, from his native Brooklyn, New York.  Here he made lifelong friends, and took his first steps toward his career by participating in Drew’s highly stimulating academic environment.  He is grateful for the profound influence of Perry Leavell in history, and “Prof.” Robert Smith in political science, that made his double major in History and American Studies memorable, gave him direction, and helped mold his personal identity.

After his Drew graduation cum laude, Gerry earned his J.D. degree at Rutgers Law School in 1981, and then a Masters of Public Administration from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service in 1987.  He began his career in the municipal bond profession as an attorney with Wood & Dawson in New York City in 1982, and then moved to the financial side as a senior municipal bond analyst with American Express in 1987.  Four years later he joined Dean Witter as a senior analyst, then to Morgan Stanley after a company merger.  He is now a senior analyst with Invesco, which has taken on Morgan Stanley’s municipal bond business.  In addition, he has taught advanced topics in municipal finance at the Wagner School of Public Service for the past four years and continues to serve as an Adjunct Faculty member.

Work has not prevented Gerry from being becoming an active alumnus, and his residence in nearby Union, New Jersey makes it easier to be involved.  He launched the Leavell-Oberg Summer Fellowships in History, to celebrate the work of Perry Leavell and his wife, historian Barbara Oberg, on the occasion of Perry’s retirement in 2008.  The Leavell-Oberg fund, now fully endowed as a result of Gerry’s fund raising efforts, has provided opportunities in history to six Drew students and will continue to fund up to three history majors annually.  Gerry has also been involved in admissions, in the College Alumni Association Committee, and in organizing Alumni College.  He participates in Drew’s Wall Street Semester, including the 2012 summer class.  His involvement in Drew’s golf outings is an apt activity for someone who is not only a passionate golfer, but has created a scoring system designed to evaluate and improve performance:  the “Strokemaster,” which he hopes to turn into a smartphone application.

Gerry has found great satisfaction in his career, but he speaks even more warmly when he describes his feelings when he and his wife, Beverly, adopted their daughter, Kristen, from China.  He has been very moved by the experience of sharing their lives with another person and seeing her flourish in another culture.  Kristen, now 15, is considering Drew, and her father will be delighted if it is her choice.