A passionate dedication to lifelong learning, career progression while also giving back to the community is a common trait of alumni from the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.
Donald R. Gallagher, Jr. graduated from the Lerner College in 1988 with a bachelor of science degree in accounting with a minor in MIS/DSS. After graduating from UD, Gallagher began his career in public accounting at Arthur Andersen, earned his CPA and later moved to the trust industry where he has worked for over 30 years taking on roles including chief compliance officer and CFO. Today he is managing director at Bank of America and based in Auburndale, Florida.
A little over 30 years after graduating from UD, in the fall of 2021, Gallagher and his wife, Kelly, established the Gallagher Family Scholarship to support a student in Lerner College with financial need.
“My wife Kelly and I made this decision together,” Gallagher shared. “We are both passionate about the importance of education to prepare young adults for what lies ahead in their lives and careers and to prepare them to make a difference in others’ lives. Providing opportunities to students that might not otherwise be able to attend University of Delaware was important to both of us.
“We hope that we are able to help others have a positive impact on society through the power of education,” he continued.
As part of the Outstanding Lifelong Lerner series, Gallagher shared his professional experiences and insights on improving the world of business for future generations of Blue Hens.
Lerner: Why did you decide to pursue your program at the Lerner College?
Gallagher: Highly ranked accounting program along with MIS/DSS minor which was not a minor widely offered at the time. Then, after my first visit to campus I fell in love with University of Delaware and knew this was where I wanted to be.
Lerner: Fill in this sentence: “My program helped me become…”
Gallagher: well prepared to make a difference in others’ lives; helping clients and helping colleagues have long and successful careers.
Lerner: Describe an important connection you made during your time at UD.
Gallagher: Some of my most memorable connections were with my professors (specifically Drs. Debessay, Chadwick and Paretta). Dr. Debessay went out of his way to find out from the industry the skills that students needed to prepare them for successful careers. He then tirelessly worked with his students to prepare them for success. Many of the skills that I use today, 34 years later, were learned in Dr. Debessay’s class.
Lerner: What advice would you give to current UD students?
Gallagher: First and foremost, follow your passion. When you love what you do, your career is much more fulfilling. Second, I would encourage students to build their network, seek out mentors and when the opportunity presents itself be a mentor to others. Lastly, seek opportunities to give back. University of Delaware will prepare you to make a difference; take every opportunity to help others.
Lerner: What advice do you have for fellow alumni?
Gallagher: Give back. Remember the many benefits that you have received from your education and make a difference in the lives of others.
Lerner: What does it mean to you to be a Lifelong Lerner?
Gallagher: It provides me a sense of connection to something greater. I always enjoy catching up with fellow alumni and students who have shared similar experiences.
Lerner: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Gallagher: The foundation of education begins your journey from there your career may take many different paths. Be open to where the journey may take you.