Hans J. Baer graduated from Lehigh in 1947 with a B.S. in industrial engineering. In 1950, he received his M.A. in economics from New York University. Baer was a Christ Church Visiting Fellow at Oxford University and a Visiting Fellow for the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard. On June 1, 1997, he received an honorary degree from Lehigh.
Hans Baer was born in Zurich Switzerland and grew up in a villa in nearby Bergstrasse. His father, Richard Baer, studied mathematics and physics before becoming a university lecturer. His thesis proved the atomic structure of electricity and continued to research electric charges in gases. His mother, Ellen, the daughter of Ludwig Lohnstein, the owner of a porcelain business in Worms/Rhine, Germany, was a chemistry major at the University of Heidelberg when his parents met.
When he was a child, his home was always open to visiting scientists and other important figures including Nobel Prize winners Irene Joliot-Curie and Chandrasekhara Raman, head of the Swiss Bank Corporation, Armand Dreyfus, and mathematician, David Hilbert.
Baer was the second of four children. He had an older sister, Marianne, a younger sister, Ruth, and a younger brother, Thomas. He moved with his mother and siblings to the Bronx in New York City in May 1941 after the death of his father in December, 1940. In New York, he attended the Horace Mann School before going to Lehigh for his undergraduate degree.
At Lehigh, Baer was treasurer, secretary, and eventually president of his fraternity, Pi Lambda Phi, editor-in-chief of the Brown & White, president of Cyanide, president of Pi Delta Epsilon (national journalism honor fraternity), treasurer of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and a member of Who's Who among Students in American Colleges and Universities. He was also a letter winner on the swim team, played cello in the orchestra, and debated in a number of clubs.
Although he studied mechanical engineering for his first four semesters at Lehigh, Baer eventually chose industrial engineering as his major.
Baer returned to Switzerland from New York City in 1947. He became partner in his grandfather's private Zurich bank in 1958, rising to Managing Director, President of the Management Committee, Chairman of Baer Holding Ltd. and Chairman of Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd., Zurich, which went public in 1974.
In April 2008, he published his book, "It's Not All About Money – Memoirs of a Private Banker." The book is a personal account of his travels from Switzerland to New York and back and includes photographs of his life.
Baer returned to his Lehigh roots when he was asked to lecture on the Swiss financial system in April 1977. He was an honorary trustee and a member of the Asa Packer Society. He was founding chair of the Global Council and on the National Leadership Committee. In 1997, Baer established the Hans J. Baer International Scholarship Fund for an international undergraduate, with a preference for students from Europe. In 2000, Baer established the Hans J. Baer '47 Endowed Chair in International Finance, now held by Professor Nandkumar (Nandu) Nayar. In 2004, Baer was the lead donor for the Baer International Centre, located in Coxe Hall. Named in his honor, the Baer International Centre brings services to students from around the world under one roof.
Baer was preceded in death by his wife, Ilse Baer. They had a son, Raymond, and a daughter, Monique. He is also survived by his wife, Gabriele, and four grandchildren.
Baer, Hans J. "It's Not All About Money: Memoirs of a Private Banker." Beaufort Books: New York. 2008.