John (Jack) W. Lavery, who earned a master’s degree in economics from the University of Maine in 1970 before embarking on a successful career as a leading economist, has provided $300,000 over 10 years to establish a scholarship fund for students in UMaine’s College of Business, Public Policy and Health.
Chairman and CEO of Lavery Consulting Group, L.L.C., a New Jersey-based economic and public policy research firm specializing in client presentations, Jack created the Jack W. Lavery Scholarship Fund for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students majoring in economics at UMaine.
“I liked the economics program at the University of Maine,” said Jack. “I learned a great deal. I had good teachers who not only took a pragmatic approach to the subject but also made it analytically rigorous. My education at UMaine made a real positive difference in my career.”
“We are honored by Jack’s gift,” said John Mahon, dean of the College. “It is yet another way in which Jack contributes to both the field of economics and to the College. His generosity to the College and to the next generation of students reflects his commitment to his profession and to the College.”
During his nearly 40 years as an economist, Jack worked at corporations including Provident National Bank, Aetna Life & Casualty, and Western Electric Company. He also had an extraordinary 20-year career with Merrill Lynch & Co.
He joined the financial services company in 1981 as chief economist and director of economic research. In each of his four years as chief economist, Jack made the Institutional Investor All-Star team. Prior to Jack, no economist at Merrill Lynch had ever made the I.I. All-Star team in economics. He then went on to build and orchestrate Merrill’s global securities research and economics complex for eleven years, run its worldwide global equities business for three years, and serve as director of corporate strategy for one year. He also created and ran the firm’s corporate and public policy research group. He retired from Merrill Lynch in 2000 to accept the position of Visiting Professor of Economics and Executive-in-Residence at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, his undergraduate alma mater from which he earned top honors while majoring in economics. He established Lavery Consulting Group in 2001.
In addition to gaining a strong foundation in economics from UMaine, Jack acquired something else: a love of teaching. Shortly after beginning his first semester in 1968, he was entrusted with teaching the large lecture hall session in Principles of Economics after Professor Samuel “Bud” Talley was injured in an accident. These new duties were in addition to his ongoing responsibilities for the recitation sections that were part of his teaching assistantship. In the five weeks or so that Professor Talley was recuperating, Jack handled the entire Principles course. It was a whole new ballgame.
“It worked out very well,” said Jack, who discovered that he enjoyed producing clear, straightforward yet challenging and thought provoking lectures as well as synthesizing a large amount of material so students could focus on the most important aspects of the subject.
“I learned a great deal teaching that 80-minute economic principles course three times a week,” he said. “I had to make sure that I was comfortable with the subject and that I understood it thoroughly so I could express myself extemporaneously without reference to notes.”
Jack never lost the passion for teaching and scholarship that he developed at UMaine. He would intersperse his long and varied career as an economist with stints as an educator – sometimes full-time, sometimes as an adjunct professor.
“My desire to teach was always there,” said Jack, who taught economics at the University of Hartford, Niagara University, Seton Hall University, and LaSalle University. He also taught while he was a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire. In keeping with his love of teaching, he traveled the country, giving presentations to corporations, financial institutions and money management entities.
Jack’s former economics professors often made it a point to be in the audience when their protege gave presentations in Maine. “It meant a lot to me to have people like John Coupe, Tom Duchesneau, and David Wihry there. I think they were proud of me and I was proud to have the opportunity to do something in front of them.”
Nowadays, as head of the Lavery Consulting Group, Jack is busy researching and writing articles on the economy and the financial markets, domestic and global. He continues to travel the country, providing dynamic, insightful and understandable forums on the U.S. and global economies, financial markets, politics, and public policy. He always takes questions from the audience and enjoys the lively exchange that inevitably follows.
“It’s an exciting time to be involved in economics and the demand for what I do is high,” he said. “Economics can be theoretical and mathematical, but I focus on delivering important, pragmatic real world economic and financial market implications.”
The University of Maine has remained a big part of Jack’s life. For the past five years he has chaired the advisory board for the Maine Business School in the College of Business, Public Policy, and Health, which meets several times a year to determine the overall direction for the MBS; provide input from the perspective of major employers; identify trends in business; and advocate for the College and the University.
He and his wife, Charlotte, who had their first two children at St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor while Jack was a graduate student at UMaine, enjoy visiting the campus and often extend their trip so they can spend time in Bar Harbor. For her part, Charlotte is delighted about Jack’s allegiance to his alma mater and fully concurs with his gift to the university.
Jack plans to continue his commitment to UMaine. “I’m doing everything I can to help the university. My role may change, but I hope to always have an important connection.”
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