In Memoriam: Jerry Leer

Legendary accounting professor Jerry Leer has passed away at age 99. Leer founded UWM’s accounting program and established a tradition of excellence that continues to this day.

He taught introductory accounting, intermediate accounting, and other advanced accounting courses, but he is often remembered for the introductory accounting course he taught on closed circuit television in the 1970s, reaching a thousand students every semester. Leer also co-authored one of the leading textbooks in advanced accounting with colleagues Paul Fischer and Bill Taylor, and led the launch of the Lubar School’s MS in Taxation program in 1979. He retired in 1983 after teaching accounting at UWM for 37 years.

While Leer was known as a demanding professor who expected high standards of academic performance, professionalism, and integrity, he also was compassionate and took great interest in his students, according to Dean V. Kanti Prasad.

“He provided valuable guidance and assistance that made an important difference in professional lives of his students, many of whom went on to be corporate leaders, comptrollers, and partners in top accounting firms,” said Prasad. Some even became highly successful accounting professors, including Paul Fischer, who marked his 50th anniversary on the Lubar accounting faculty this year and holds the title of Jerry A. Leer Professor of Accounting.

After his retirement, Leer continued his involvement with the Lubar School and his support of its accounting students by funding the Leer Advanced Accounting Scholarship program. In 1983, some of Leer’s former students, led by Peter Tellier, also established the Leer/Tellier Scholarship Fund, which has subsequently provided more than $1 million in scholarship awards in Leer’s honor to nearly 200 top accounting students. In true form, Leer never missed the annual scholarship event so that he could personally congratulate the student awardees.

“With the impact he made on thousands and thousands of accounting and business students, Jerry Leer will always be an inspiration,” said Prasad.