Dr. Al Gourrier, assistant professor at the University of Baltimore – School of Public and International Affairs, has the unique distinction of being a member of the inaugural UNLV Executive MBA class.
Reminiscing, he recalls Cohort 1 meeting in the elementary school across the street from the UNLV campus. “There weren’t yet designated classrooms on campus for the program,” said Gourrier.
“I was working full time building a career in banking and enrolled in the MBA program taking classes at night. It was a grueling schedule. So, when the university launched its Executive MBA program 2002, I jumped at the opportunity,” said Gourrier. “Being with and learning from fellow executives was the ideal learning environment.”
Gourrier, along with his fellow Cohort 1 members, were the pioneering students who would help shape what has become one of the top EMBA programs in the country for working professionals. “It’s no surprise the program has made leaps and bounds in the quality of students and national rankings,” Gourrier said.
“For more than 20 years, UNLV was with me through every stage of my career – from my Bachelor’s Degree in Finance in 1996 to an MBA in 2003 and a Ph.D. in 2015,” said Gourrier. “I’m proud of my life-long association with UNLV and honored to be an alumnus.”
Meeting challenges with determination and commitment has been a hallmark of Gourrier’s life. In 2012, following a highly successful 19-year career in banking, “I followed a passion for teaching that had eluded me while I aggressively pursued a life in the business arena,” Gourrier said. And, it comes as no surprise that he officially began his teaching profession as a graduate teaching instructor at UNLV while a Ph.D. candidate.
In 2015, Gourrier met another life changing opportunity head on and left Las Vegas for Baltimore where he is currently an assistant professor with Baltimore University in the Master of Public Administration program with a research focus on community development and financing.
“While it was difficult leaving Las Vegas, life is about seeking new challenges. When windows of opportunity open, it’s exciting and new. You jump in 110 percent,” exclaims Gourrier.
Anyone who has been in Las Vegas for more than a few years, knows Gourrier’s name and reputation for being an accomplished business leader and an outstanding civic steward.
In November of 2005, Gourrier used his banking experience to organize a new bank, 1st Commerce Bank, which opened in October 2006. He considers the development, organization and regulatory approval of 1st Commerce Bank one of his greatest professional achievements. “There’s no doubt that during this time, my EMBA from UNLV added to my credibility and played a part in receiving regulatory approval for the bank,” Gourrier commented.
In 2009 1st Commerce Bank was recognized as Best of North Las Vegas State Commercial Banks by the US Commerce Association.
Gourrier was the first and only African American bank president in the state of Nevada and was one of the youngest bank presidents in the country.
He began his banking career in 1993 with PriMerit Bank, which was purchased by Norwest Bank in 1996 and merged with Wells Fargo Bank in 2000. In 2000, Gourrier served as vice president of commercial lending for Desert Community Bank and in 2001 he was promoted to chief credit officer/executive vice president.
Throughout his life, Gourrier has been committed to actively participating in community, civic and business organizations. He served on the national board of the Urban Financial Services Coalition and is considered an authority in community and small business lending. As such, he is highly respected for his work in improving the financial landscape in the minority and small business community. In 1995, the National Association of Urban Bankers named Gourrier, National Orator of the Year. In 2007, he was recognized by In Business Las Vegas as one of the Top 40 Executives Under 40 in Las Vegas and was the recipient of the Las Vegas Young Professionals 2007 Movers and Shakers Award. He is the recipient of the 2007 Clark County African American Hero Award and the 2008 SBA Community Service Award.
Gourrier served as an executive board member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Nevada, and as an executive board member of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Phi Fraternity Incorporated (’98).
Gourrier may be sporting the blue and green of the University of Baltimore’s official mascot Eubie the Bee, but Gourrier exclaims, “I’ll always be a UNLV Rebel at heart!”