Nearly 500 Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) faculty, alumni, friends, and family packed Memorial Church on June 5 for a two-part celebration of the life and legacy of John G. “Jack” McDonald, the Stanford Investors Professor of Finance.
McDonald, BS ’60, MBA ’62, PhD ’67, taught more than 10,000 MBA and Executive Education students over a remarkable 50-year career at the school. He died January 26.
Stanford GSB professors George Parker, MBA ’62, PhD ’67, and Jim Van Horne, along with McDonald’s teaching team, John Hurley, MBA ’93, and Stuart Klein, JD/MBA ’83, were joined by former students Bill Oberndorf, MBA ’78, Tim Bliss, MBA ’78, and Carter McClelland, BS ’67, MBA ’73, to share remembrances about McDonald and the time they spent with him as a teacher, colleague, and most important, friend. McDonald’s son, Tom McDonald, MS ’00, and wife of 45 years, Melody McDonald, DMA ’75, also provided a tribute to McDonald by sharing experiences about their family.
Oberndorf spoke about McDonald’s influence on students and said he played a role in creating investors who had profound implications for the country and on the world of investing. McDonald’s teaching style, he said, was unlike any other.
“Jack was simply a teacher’s teacher, and for him, his students mattered most,” Oberndorf said.
Jonathan Levin, Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean of Stanford GSB, evoked McDonald as having “an extraordinary positive nature and an unwavering respect for students,” sentiments that were also shared by McDonald's colleagues and former students.
Following the memorial service, attendees gathered under domed tents to commemorate McDonald with a tribute: the renaming of Highland Hall to Jack McDonald Hall and The GSB Common to The Stanford Investors Common.
“Today is a reminder of what a powerful role faculty play in the lives of our students – both while they are on campus, and for the rest of their lives,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “Jack exemplified that influence and impact, across generations. It is truly remarkable that Jack inspired so many individuals to come together to support the construction of this residence, Jack McDonald Hall – which, along with the Schwab Residential Center, now enables all first-year MBA students to live on campus.”
Melody McDonald expressed heartfelt gratitude to the many alumni, friends, and individuals from the university administration for making the tribute possible. She shared that Jack’s sole goal was to teach and inspire students.
“He was dedicated to you, and it’s so nice to see how that all came back with your dedication and appreciation of him,” she said.
The newly dedicated spaces will live as a tribute to his legacy and student involvement, as the residential facilities and experience create an opportunity for students to build meaningful relationships.
Highland Hall opened in 2016 and features 3- and 4-story buildings with 202 living units placed around open courtyards. With nearly all first-year MBAs living on campus, living and learning spaces like Jack McDonald Hall give students an opportunity to benefit from the diverse community and build lasting relationships with classmates and faculty outside the classroom. It was always the intention of lead donors Mary and R. Michael Shanahan, AB ’60, MBA ’65, for the residence to be renamed Jack McDonald Hall following his retirement from the school.
The multi-use event space known as The GSB Common was also renamed as The Stanford Investors Common at the request of an anonymous donor to the space. It reflects the endowed professorship that McDonald held for many years, which had been established in 2004 by a group of former students, friends, and colleagues.
McDonald’s legacy at Stanford GSB lives on through the buildings named for him as well as the renamed John G. McDonald Professorship as a testament to his five decades of teaching at the business school. McDonald was beloved and highly regarded among Stanford GSB students, faculty, and alumni. His impact on the community is far-reaching, but the influence he had on students’ lives is what made McDonald so remarkable.
Explore an archive of video tributes from alumni, friends, and colleagues.