Remembering Alonzo McDonald, Dean's Council Member

November 26, 2019
Dean David Hempton with Al McDonald
Dean David Hempton with Al McDonald at the HDS Bicentennial celebration in 2017. Photo: Justin Knight

It is with great sadness that HDS mourns the passing of Alonzo L. McDonald, a longtime member of the Dean’s Council and a devoted friend of the School.

Although not an alumnus of HDS, Mr. McDonald was a gracious partner of the School who was a member of the Dean’s Council for 20 years, established the Alonzo L. McDonald Family Scholarship for HDS students in 1989, and endowed the Alonzo L. McDonald Family Professorship of Evangelical Theological Studies as a visiting professorship in 1996 and later as a full professorship in 2004. The professorship is currently filled by Dean David N. Hempton.

“I first met Al McDonald soon after I was appointed to the chair named in his honor in 2007,” said Dean Hempton. “He remained an irrepressible encourager, supporter, and friend of me and of HDS through his service on the Dean’s Council. He brought to our School remarkable organizational acumen, a serious and thoughtful commitment to his faith, a winning smile and sense of humor, and remarkable energy and wisdom. He was part of a generation of leaders, that also included John Whitehead, whose service to HDS was deep, sustained, and transformative. HDS is immeasurably better for his service and generosity of spirit; we will miss him dearly.”

A businessman and philanthropist with extensive service in government and academia, Mr. McDonald graduated from Emory University in 1948 and went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps from 1950 to 1952. He graduated from Harvard Business School in 1956, going on to work for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation and the management consulting firm McKinsey and Company. In 1979 he was appointed Assistant to the President of the United States and White House Staff Director under President Jimmy Carter. In 1981 he joined the HBS faculty and from 1983 until 1987 he served as a senior counselor to the dean at HBS.

In 1989, Mr. McDonald, along with his wife Suzie, established the McDonald Agape Foundation, a family-run philanthropy. The foundation supports distinguished scholars, lectures, centers, and conferences at several schools beyond Harvard, including Yale University, Emory University, and Oxford University.

Mr. McDonald and his family’s extraordinary philanthropy will strengthen HDS’s teaching and learning mission for many years to come.