Following a 35-year career with McDonnell Douglas Corp., John McDonnell retired as chairman of the board after overseeing a merger with Boeing Co. to create the world’s largest aerospace company.
McDonnell joined the Washington University Board of Trustees in 1976. He served as chair of the board from 1999 to 2004 and was named a Life Trustee in 1999. He led the leadership phase of the successful $1.55 billion Campaign for Washington University and co-chaired the leadership phase of the current Leading Together campaign, and he currently chairs the campaign executive committee. He served as founding chair of the Arts & Sciences National Council from 1986 to 1991 and remained a member until 2006, when he joined the School of Engineering & Applied Science National Council.
Over the past six decades, gifts from John McDonnell, his family and associated foundations, including the JSM Charitable Trust, have made some of the most significant contributions to advance Washington University’s stature as a world leader in research, education and service to society. These gifts include numerous endowed professorships, scholarships, buildings and academic programs. In 2005, McDonnell provided the leadership gift to establish the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, a global research and education partnership comprising the university and more than 30 leading institutions around the world.
The McDonnell Academy has established itself as a unique model for international cooperation and collaboration among leading research institutions of higher learning and scholarship.John McDonnell
John McDonnell earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical engineering from Princeton University. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from Olin Business School at Washington University, and the university awarded him an honorary doctorate of science in 2006. He received the Arts & Sciences Dean’s Medal in 1999; the William Greenleaf Eliot Society’s highest honor, the “Search” Award, in 2005; and the Robert S. Brookings Award in 2013.
John McDonnell and his wife, Anne, also a graduate of Washington University, are Life Members and Sustaining Charter Members of the Danforth Circle Chancellor’s Level in the William Greenleaf Eliot Society. Their daughter Alicia, JD ’95, serves as vice chair for scholarships and fellowships for the Leading Together campaign.