Paul B. Guenther, FCRH ’62
Chairman, New York Philharmonic
After working for three decades at PaineWebber and ascending to the presidency of its parent company, PaineWebber Group, Paul Guenther was ready to retire from the financial world.
“[I had] done everything I wanted to do on Wall Street,” he says. But a quiet retirement wasn’t his next stop. Guenther was just getting warmed up. For his second act, he poured his energies into some of New York’s most revered cultural, educational and charitable institutions.
The year after his retirement, in 1996, he became chairman of the New York Philharmonic, applying his managerial skills to guiding the orchestra through an administrative reorganization and a search for a new music director. Since then, the orchestra has reached a level of performance that is said to be unmatched in its history.
At Fordham University, he led the University’s most successful capital campaign to date and served from 1998 to 2004 as chairman of its Board of Trustees, a body on which he continues to serve.
He has made numerous gifts to the University, including one that established an endowed scholarship fund, mainly to support minority undergraduate students. He is universally admired throughout the Fordham community for his guidance, humanity and dedication to excellence.
He has shared his time, talent and resources with other institutions as well—the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Mary Flagler Charitable Trust, the Governor’s Committee on Scholastic Achievement, Lenox Hill Hospital, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, where he received an M.B.A. in finance.
He built his management and leadership skills in a variety of roles at PaineWebber. He served as chief administrative officer responsible for administrative services, operations and systems, and later assumed responsibility for the firm’s retail sales business and investment banking activities.
He was named president of PaineWebber, Inc., six years before assuming the presidency of the parent company in 1994. His retirement from the company followed PaineWebber’s $1.96 billion acquisition of Kidder Peabody.
He has been awarded a doctorate of humane letters from Fordham, complementing the bachelor’s degree in economics he received from the University in 1962.
During his undergraduate years, he gained more than a degree; he gained an outlook. Fordham, he says, conferred a “superb, well-rounded education, a sense of what is right in the world.”