Robert Neary, BBA '55: Winner of the 2017 Bert F. Wertman Alumni Service Award

Mr. Neary graduated from the University of Michigan’s Business School with his BBA in 1955. While attending school he met future his wife, Janet, and together, they have been outstanding - both in actions and financial commitment - through the creation of scholarships for the school.

As a partner with Ernst & Young (and predecessor firms) from 1966-1993, Mr. Neary served as the firm’s Vice Chairman, for the Accounting and Auditing Division from 1975 to 1984 and as the firm’s Co-Chairman from 1984 until his retirement in 1993. Mr. Neary was instrumental in the 1979 merger that formed Ernst & Whinney and the 1989 merger that formed Ernst & Young LLP. Ray Groves, E&Y’s former chairman said, “Mr. Neary’s been involved in our firm’s most important professional matters - liability insurance, professional standards, and firm governance. He’s been involved with so many pivotal projects that his judgment and knowledge are just second to none.”

Mr. Neary’s foundation of leadership through education was shaped during this coursework at Michigan and with his Professor, Bill Paton. Mr. Neary believed in proactive leadership and training our professionals. His leadership was instrumental in implementing a global audit methodology that would be used by all of our member firms around the world. Truly a progressive idea in the 1980s. Mr. Neary’s leadership also helped other professional become leaders in the profession. He learned from Bill Paton and taught others like Robert Herdman, who served as the Chief Accountant of the SEC, Dennis Beresford, who became Chairman of the FASB and many of the E&Y’s future leaders.

Professionally, Mr. Neary served as a member of the AICPA’s Quality Control Inquiry Committee and a member of the AICPA’s Professional Issues Task Force. Mr. Neary also served on the Board of Directors of numerous public and private companies and many civic and community organizations.

Based upon discussions with Mrs. Neary and other retired EY partners, Mr. Neary had an internship at Ernst and Young and decided to take a fifth year of all accounting course to be fully educated to become an accountant. Passing the CPA didn’t come into play until later, after he decided to fully prepare himself for a profession he really loved. In addition, based upon the University of Michigan’s President’s report from 1979-1980, Mr. Neary was a member of the Paton Center Advisory Board (page 14 of President’s Report). At EY, Mr. Neary was instrumental in establishing the EY Fund for Excellence in Accounting Education Fund which has raised millions for scholarships at U of M. In 1990, he was instrumental in the new scholarship-internship program for Business School students who wanted to pursue a professional career in public accounting or taxation that was established at EY, one of the first of its kind. In addition, Mr. and Mrs. Neary have donated significant amount to the University of Michigan to fund scholarships and other necessary programs.

About the Award

Established in 1989, this award recognizes an alumnus or alumna of the business school for outstanding service to the school and/or to the university. The award was established in honor of Bert F. Wertman, who served for more than 60 years as president of the Class of 1928. Through his leadership and caring, the class remained a cohesive and vital group and held a record number of continuous reunions.

Previous Award Winners

2016 David Carson, BBA 1955

2015 David Parent MBA 1995

2014 Michael & Nancy McLelland MBA 1979, BS 1975 & MBA 1979

2013 Jeffrey Gelfand BBA 1988

2012 Yehuda Cohen MBA 1983 

2011 Ralph Johnson MBA 1992

2010 Elizabeth D. Black MBA 1987

2009 Philippe Prufer MBA 1988

2008 John C. Morley MBA 1958

2007 Daniel Hennessey MBA 1981

2006 William Hall MBA 1967, PhD 1969

2005 Tom Jones BBA 1968, MBA 1971

2004 Cecil Shepherd MBA 2000

2003 Roslyn Braeman Payne BBA 1968

2002 Michael R. Hallman BBA 1966, MBA 1967

2001 Thomas Porter MBA 1967

2001 Mary Campbell MBA 1979

2000 Richard H. Rogel BBA 1970

1999 Eva Chang MBA 1993

1998 Bonnie R. Proctor AB 1970, MBA 1974

1997 Bruce L. Cook BBA 1950, MBA 1951

1996 John F. McCarthy ABED 1949, MBA 1951

1995 Frank T. Westover BBA 1961, MBA 1962

1994 No Award Given

1993 Sharon Reed Walker BBA 1974, MBA 1981

1992 William T. Dobson AB 1942, MBA 1948

1991 Gary T. Walther BSE 1960, MBA 1963

1990 Wilbur K. Pierpont MBA 1938, PhD 1942

1989 John R. Edman BBA 1950, MBA 1951