Joseph R. Perella graduated from Lehigh University in 1964 with a degree in business administration. As a student, he was a member of the accounting society, class cabinet, and Phi Kappa Theta. He served as a crew chief on F-105 fighter-bombers in the United States Air Force and the New Jersey Air National Guard from 1964-1970, and earned his M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1972. Perella joined The First Boston Corporation in 1972, founded their M&A department, and then co-founded Wasserstein Perella and Co., Inc. in 1988. Perella then signed on as a managing director and member of the management committee at Morgan Stanley in 1993. He was worldwide head of Morgan Stanley’s Investment Banking Division, then chairman of the Institutional Securities and Investment Banking Group. In early 2006, Investment Dealer’s Digest named Perella Banker of the Year. In mid-2006, Perella formed Perella Weinberg Partners, with offices in New York and London.
A member of Lehigh’s Board of Trustees between 1989 and 1998, Perella rejoined the board in 2002. He is an honorary co-chair of Shine Forever: The Campaign for Lehigh. Perella serves on the executive, finance, and development committees of the board. He has also been an avid follower of Lehigh wrestling. In 2004, Perella was awarded the “L-in-Life” award by the Lehigh New York Alumni Club.
Perella and his wife Amy are strong believers in the importance of alumni support to Lehigh. They endowed the Perella Department of Finance in 2003. In addition, the Perellas have an endowed scholarship fund for Lehigh students from the Newark, N.J. area, where Perella grew up. They also supported the construction of Rauch Business Center, in which the largest auditorium is now named in their honor. The Perellas are members of the Asa Packer Society and Tower Society.