TopVet: Bill Donaldson, Wall Streeter

William Donaldson

William H. Donaldson is a veteran - of the Marine Corps, where he served as an officer in the Far Eastern Theatre from 1953-55; and of Wall Street, where he cut his spurs as a principal and founder of the brokerage house Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette. Now, at age 71, Bill Donaldson, whom President Bush called "one of the most respected business leaders in our nation," is about to take on another challenge as the Bush administration's choice as the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. His appointment as the 27th chairman of the commission requires Senate approval.

"Bill Donaldson will be a strong leader with a clear mission - to vigorously enforce the nation's laws against corporate corruption and uphold highest standards of integrity in the securities markets," the President said in introducing his nominee at a news conference on December 10.

This is a challenge that Donaldson, acknowledged as a masterful communicator, is eminently well-qualified to meet. "Confidence in U.S. corporate and financial industries has been seriously eroded during the past few years," he said, describing the current environment as "this most important and challenging time."

Bill Donaldson co-founded the investment-banking firm DLJ with Dan Lufkin and Richard Jenrette in 1959 and was the firm's chairman and CEO. Ten years later, DLJ became the first firm on Wall Street to go public. When Donaldson left in 1973, it had grown from a modest firm into the tenth largest brokerage house on Wall Street.

Donaldson also was chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange from 1991 to 1995, when he was succeeded by another veteran of military service, Dick Grasso. After DLJ was sold to Credit Suisse First Boston in 2000, he became chairman and CEO of the insurance titan Aetna, which he ran for a year, from 2000 to 2001, helping reshape the firm through a spinoff and sale of its financial services division. After leaving Aetna, he rejoined his own firm, Donaldson Enterprises, the private investment company he founded in 1981.

William Henry Donaldson, who was born in Buffalo, New York, earned his BA from Yale in 1953. After completing his military service, he earned his MBA from Harvard, graduating with distinction. During the course of his career, he has been awarded a number of honorary degrees.

He also was a founding dean of the Yale School of Management and held a tenured chair as the William S. Beinecke Professor of Management from 1975-80. He served as Undersecretary of State under Henry Kissinger from 1973-75 in the Nixon and Ford administrations, and as an advisor to Nelson Rockefeller during his brief tenure as vice president.

Donaldson is director of many public organizations, as well as several privately held corporations and public philanthropic organizations. In addition to being director of these organizations he is chairman of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a trustee of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Aspen Institute, the New York Police Foundation, the Marine Corps University Foundation, and the Foreign Policy Association. He is also chairman of the Yale School of Management Advisory Board.

This year, he was honored by the Eye-Bank as its 18th "Man of Vision" award, which was established to acknowledge men and women who have exemplified leadership and contributions beyond the workplace.

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