By Mike O'Brien
Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
On Saturday, Jim Gately '62 will walk onto the field for the opening coin toss as an honorary captain, stepping onto Corwin Stadium at Andrus Field for the first time since he last played in 1960, excited to see the Cardinals continue the success they've achieved throughout the past five years.
Gately grew up in a small industrial town in Massachusetts called Leominister, located roughly 25 miles north of Worcester. He was accepted by several Ivy League schools, but choose Wesleyan for its great academics and reputation. He also figured that coming from a small high school, it would be a more comfortable transition for him at a smaller college.
It proved to be the right decision for Gately, who graduated in a class of roughly 200, which was not much larger than his high school class of around 150. His first year on campus, Gately competed on the freshman football and freshman baseball teams. Starting every game as a guard on the gridiron, he continued to play football as a sophomore and junior on the varsity team, seeing time on and off.
"When I say I played Wesleyan football and was a substitute guard, that would normally not go at the top of my resume," said Gately. "However, a few years ago I read the biography of a very famous Wesleyan alumnus who also played primarily as a substitute guard (Bill Belichick '75). Once I read that, I figured it was okay to say that was the position I played (he says with a laugh)."
Active on campus, Gately was a DKE member and rushing chairman, and also named president of the fraternity. At the time, fraternities dominated the social scene at the all-male Wesleyan. He was also a dorm counselor and selected for the Skull and Serpent Honor Society.
After graduating from Wesleyan in 1962 with a degree in psychology, Gately accepted a job at General Electric, where he worked for over a year. He then attended Harvard Business School and graduated in 1965.
The vast majority of Gately's career was spent in the financial services industry, primarily pension fund management, first in the pension division of the Prudential Asset Management Group, where he worked as a loan officer and securities analyst. Eventually, he was promoted to a senior management position in the pension area of Prudential.
In 1989, Gately was recruited by The Vanguard Group – an investment and mutual fund management company based in Malvern, Pa. – to head up their institutional business. A member of the senior leadership team, he spent 20 years as a managing director at Vanguard responsible for various aspects of the business. It turned out to be the most gratifying part of his career.
"When I went there, Vanguard was a relatively small company," he said. "We had about 1,200 employees, or crew members as we called ourselves, and when I left 20 years later we had over 12,000 (globally). I was part of the senior management team that provided leadership during that period."
Throughout his tenure at Vanguard, Gately's assignments included heading the company's institutional business from 1989-94; an individual investor group from 1995-2002; the investment programs and services areas from 2003-05; and Vanguard's international business from 2005-07. He would retire as a managing director in 2007, and at that point, the company was managing more than $1.2 trillion, up from the $50 billion when he first started.
Gately – who resides in Villanova, Pennsylvania with his wife Kay – has enjoyed his time in retirement. He has kept himself busy by reading widely, and doing a lot of traveling and non-profit work for various organizations in the greater Philadelphia area.
In 2012, Gately helped to organize his 50th Class Reunion at Wesleyan and was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Among the other recipients that year were Mark R. Kravitz '72, P'00, Dr. Joseph J. Fins '82, Emilie A. L. Marcus '82, Diana Farrell '87 and Lin-Manuel Miranda '02.
The Distinguished Alumni Awards are presented to alumni in recognition of achievement in their professions. The awards are traditionally presented at the Wesleyan Assembly and Annual Meeting during Reunion & Commencement to alumni who are celebrating their class Reunion. Gately called it one of the proudest moments of his life.
Five years later, he returned to campus to celebrate his 55th reunion, which occurred this past May. Though he hasn't attended a Wesleyan football game in quite some time, Gately reads his emails from Head Coach Dan DiCenzo to stay up to date on the team's progress and success, and has been helping out the athletic program financially since Mike Whalen '83 returned to campus in 2010.
"Mike's done a fabulous job bringing the whole sports program up to a premier level," said Gately. "He's also reached out to generate a lot more alumni support than I think they've ever had before. That's a great step forward for Wesleyan."
In addition to his highly successful 40-plus years of work in the financial services industry, Gately is also a past member of the board of directors of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, where he served as board chair from 2004-05. He has also served as a board member of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the William Penn Foundation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program.
When Gately was elected to the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program's Board of Trustees in 2008, it was among the largest charitable organizations in the nation with more than 6,000 donors, $1.9 billion in assets, and more than $1.4 billion in grants to other public charities since its inception in 1997. The mission of the program is to increase philanthropic giving by administering a donor-advised fund; a tax-effective way to consolidate, accrue, and grant assets to charity.
A chartered financial analyst, Gately has also spoken at conferences and seminars on a wide variety of investment and investment management issues.