When George D. Gates ’74 goes into something, he’s in it whole-heartedly and for the long haul.
After Gates graduated from high school in 1964, he started working full time as a banker and internal auditor with Irving Trust Company. At the same time, he started college at Wagner, studying management, economics, and finance under Wagner professors like the incomparable Charlie Kraemer.
Gates liked Kraemer’s “no-nonsense attitude about learning. He gave you an assignment, and he expected you to do it.” Gates expected no less of himself. “Those of us who commuted took our education seriously,” he says. “We were there to work and to get the most out of it.”
His committed attitude helped him to persist through the nine years that it took to finish his degree. “I was able to learn the theoretical concepts and points of view and be able to apply them in a work environment,” he says. “I felt that without a college degree, you didn’t have the knowledge base you needed to get ahead and progress in private industry.”
This feeling proved correct. Gates went on to hold many positions of leadership in the banking industry, especially in the area of credit policy, and retired as the international credit risk auditor for J.P. Morgan Chase.
At the same time, Gates stayed closely connected to Wagner College. He started giving back to the College immediately after graduating, starting with very small gifts that grew larger as his own resources increased. He even became an adjunct finance professor in the graduate program and helped to establish the international business concentration.
Golf also kept him connected. Both George and his wife, Nancy Gates M’88, a special education teacher, love the sport. Throughout the four decades since his graduation, Gates has attended Wagner golfing events; he has participated in every Sal Alberti Golf Outing, helping to raise money for the athletic program. (Sal Alberti marks its 25th anniversary in 2014.)
Gates has become a significant benefactor of Wagner’s men’s and women’s golf teams, most recently contributing to their purchase last fall of a high-tech FlightScope system, a 3-D Doppler ball tracking golf radar and simulator.
“Without this machine, it is incredibly difficult to practice in the winter months because of the harsh New York weather,” says golf coach Christopher Fourman ’09 M’11. “In years past, we have essentially just hung up the clubs at the conclusion of the fall season in October and didn’t touch them again until late March. This year, the only weeks that we have had to take off are during examinations.”
George and Nancy even made a commitment in their estate plans to benefit student athletes on the golf teams. But mainly, Gates directs his gifts toward the College’s greatest needs.
“No matter how small, every little bit helps and could be put to great use,” Gates says to encourage his fellow alumni to join him in supporting the College. “You need to remember that you want to leave the world a little better place than it was when you came into it.”