“I entered Washington University hoping to prepare myself to be a lawyer. I left with that and much more — a habit of critical thinking, a love of history, lifelong friendships and an enduring commitment to the university,” says Andrea Grant, AB ’71, JD ’74. The academics were challenging, the environment was inspiring, and the people — professors, advisers and her fellow classmates — were all supportive, she recalls. “The exceptional education I received has helped me throughout my life.”
An attorney in Washington, D.C., Grant is a partner at DLA Piper, a global law firm. She concentrates in the fields of energy and environment, practicing before numerous federal agencies and Congress. Throughout her career, she also has addressed several significant trade and transportation issues.
In addition to the strong academics that helped prepare her for remarkable career success, Grant has fond memories of WashU’s inspiring environment. Looking back, she cherishes her experiences participating in Bearskin Follies. A comedic theater production, Bearskin Follies fostered lively competition among fraternities and sororities to write and perform the best skits.
“It was a significant element of what made WashU so special for me,” Grant says. “Bearskin Follies prompted a community of students from across the university to create, direct, perform and just have fun together.”
Decades later, Grant’s daughter, Erica Merber Murphy, AB ’07, also participated in this treasured university tradition. She wrote and directed sketches for Thurtene Carnival, which eventually absorbed Bearskin Follies. Grant and her husband, Sandy Merber, made the trip to St. Louis for the occasion. Since then, she has returned to campus for more recent performances — as a judge instead of an audience member.
Grant remains actively engaged with her alma mater. Among the university’s most dedicated volunteer leaders, she currently serves on the Board of Trustees, Arts & Sciences National Council, Law National Council and the Washington-Baltimore Regional Cabinet. In addition, she has assisted several fundraising efforts, rallying support for the university in the Washington, D.C., area.
Grant’s engagement with her alma mater began with salons in the mid-1990s. Hosted by the university in cities throughout the country, these intimate gatherings feature a presentation by a professor as well as a networking reception.
“Salons are fabulous,” Grant says. “You learn about fascinating topics from experts in their fields, get the latest university news and meet members of the WashU community in your area.”
As she became more active in this community, volunteer leadership was a natural progression. Today, Grant says, the most enjoyable aspect of her service is connecting with others who share her appreciation for the university and passion for helping it continue to excel.
Washington University recognized Grant’s significant professional accomplishments and remarkable dedication to her alma mater with a 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award from the law school, the Dean’s Medal from Arts & Sciences in 2016 and the Washington-Baltimore Regional Award in 2018.
“Andrea is an exemplary and thoughtful leader of the WashU community who cares deeply about this institution and, in particular, our students,” Chancellor Andrew Martin says.
“I am extremely grateful for her advocacy, guidance and support.”
Loyal donors, Grant and her husband have given generously to the university, primarily investing in scholarships in Arts & Sciences and the School of Law. The couple believes all students, regardless of financial circumstances, should have access to the same opportunities that Grant had.
Grant has enjoyed meeting a number of students who have benefited from her generosity at the university’s annual scholarship dinners. On these special occasions, she says she always strives to instill in students an appreciation for the institution.
“I want them to feel gratitude for Washington University so that one day, 20 or 30 years from now, they’re filling my seat and helping others have the same opportunity,” Grant explains. “I hope to keep building the strong and generous alumni community that I have been privileged to be a part of and that helps make WashU so special.”