Malcolm McDonald

The Career Centers’ Namesake

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

When Malcolm “Mac” McDonald, ’60 BSB, was a student many years ago, business classes took place in Vincent Hall. The career center—called the placement office—was relatively nondescript. A wooden table and a couple of chairs amidst filing cabinets were its major furnishings.

Before his senior year, he interviewed for jobs in the credit training program at First National Bank of Minneapolis, now U.S. Bank. “I was going to get married and I was pretty certain I was going to take the job and start my career in downtown Minneapolis,” he says.

However, at the urging of Kathleen Anderson—the placement director at that time—McDonald also interviewed with Irving Trust Co., a Wall Street bank then recruiting at the school. “During the interview, I was invited to New York. It was 1960. I’d never been on an airplane,” he says. “At the interview, they offered me a job. I came back and talked to Sonia [his fiancé] about that and we got married and went out there.”

After a decade in New York, McDonald took a position at the Bank of Virginia, which later became Signet Bank. He rose through the ranks, serving as president when Signet’s credit card division was christened Capital One in 1994, and as chairman and CEO when Signet was acquired by First Union in 1997. He retired in 1998 and received the University of Minnesota Outstanding Achievement Award in 2000.

McDonald kept close contact with the Carlson School and served on its Board of Advisors. When Hanson Hall was being developed, he knew how he wanted to contribute. He and Sonia have given back in many ways since retirement, but this was going to be particularly special.

“It made an awful lot of sense to give back to something that was a career changer for us. A life changer,” he says. “For my success in my career I had to work hard, but I wouldn’t have had the opportunity if I didn’t go to the University of Minnesota. So that’s how we chose the career center. Every time I walk in the building and see our names up there, it brings up those memories.”

Thinking back to the wooden table and filing cabinets from his day, McDonald wanted something that better reflected the school he knows. “That wasn’t fit for a school as contemporary as the Carlson School,” he says. “I knew we needed a really classy place.”

This article appeared in the Spring 2018 alumni magazine

In this issue, we explore how the Carlson School's Career Center is helping point the way from education to career.

Spring 2018 table of contents