For 55 years and counting, Jack Bierley (BA ’58, LLB ’63) has heralded the worth of his UF experience.
As 26-year-old Jack Bierley waited to receive his UF law degree during the 1963 commencement ceremony, he reflected on his college journey and gave a small donation – about $5 – to UF’s general fund.
His gift, which started small, turned into a tradition every year since, and now at age 82 he holds UF’s record for being the longest consecutive UF donor.
The adventurous and pioneering Bierley – who was one of the first prominent international attorneys in the Southeast – says all records and gifts aside, he remains truly grateful to UF.
“As I stood in line, I thought about how much I had matured from the time I entered UF as a 17-year-old adolescent,” he said. “My experience transformed me into a mature person by the time I graduated from law school.” (He served three years as a US Marine Corps infantry officer between his bachelor’s and law degrees.)
Bierley said during his college years he engaged in as many opportunities as he could to become involved in student life by serving, among other roles, as a student politician, Florida Blue Key member and, in 1962, homecoming general chairman.
“I learned how to become a leader and bring people together through my activities at the university,” he said. “Those skills translated into my career, which is why I’m able to give back today.”
Bierley has enjoyed a long, full career as a Florida Bar Board Certified international attorney. He has made a point to give back, serving as a director of Cayman National Bank, membership in the Council on Foreign Relations and the Explorer’s Club in New York.
Amid his hectic travel schedule, he found time to volunteer with the UF Foundation Board (he’s a lifetime member), and he continues to be a trustee emeritus of the UF Law Center Association.
“I received great things from the university,” he said. “I always support things where I feel I have an obligation – where I feel I benefitted from it.”
Bierley’s lifetime of UF donations, including a law school scholarship, an international visiting professor fund and even a Japanese art piece for the Harn Museum, have enhanced 11 UF programs.
“A lot of people don’t realize the status of UF in the context of the public universities in America,” he said. “It’s a leading and outstanding institution, and one we should support.”