Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Veterans Affairs nominee has University of Utah ties
First Published Jun 30 2014 02:06 pm • Last Updated Jun 30 2014 08:36 pm

President Barack Obama picked a former corporate CEO to lead the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs. But Robert McDonald may have never received this nomination if it wasn’t for a partnership between the military and the University of Utah in the 1970s.

After studying engineering at West Point, McDonald thought he would continue his studies while in the Army. The only program that fit with his schedule was a business degree offered through the U., which relied on the Air Force flying in professors for weekend classes.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

He recalls taking his books into the jungles of Panama, studying business theory at night huddled under a poncho with a flashlight in one hand. His wife, Diane, would type up his handwritten work.

In 1978, he earned his master of business administration (MBA). Two years later he retired as a captain in the Army. He immediately joined Procter & Gamble, launching a long and successful career that culminated in his ascension to president and CEO in 2009.

The V.A. is mired in a scandal over the medical care given to veterans and untenable wait times for appointments, which in some cases have resulted in deaths. Secretary Eric Shinseki, a former Army general, resigned his position.

McDonald’s nomination may signal a desire to place a person with major managerial experience in the top job.

While McDonald didn’t attend classes in Utah, he has maintained a relationship with the university. He has served as an adviser to the David Eccles School of Business and in 2010 was honored as a distinguished alumni. During a 2012 speech at the university, he credited marketing professor Gary Grikscheit for helping him become a successful business leader.

The admiration is mutual. In an email sent to The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday, Grikscheit said of McDonald’s nomination: "He is an inspired choice."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.