News Center

Alonzo McDonald Passes Away at 91
By CSLR | Emory Law | Dec 9, 2019 10:12:00 AM

Alonzo McDonald 48C, a longtime friend and generous benefactor of Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) has passed away, on Nov. 21, 2019. He was 91.

McDonald was a Marine Corps veteran, a distinguished businessman, and a generous philanthropist. His career included service as CEO of McKinsey & Company; president and vice-chairman of the Bendix Corporation; White House Staff Director under President Jimmy Carter; and deputy special trade representative and U.S. ambassador to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.  He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Club of New York, the Center for Inter-American Relations, and the French-American Foundation.  He taught at Harvard Business School before founding Avenir, a private investment company.  He was also co-founder of the Trinity Forum and served as trustee of Emory University.

In 1989, Mr. McDonald and his wife Suzie founded the McDonald Agape Foundation which works with a select group of universities and scholars who represent models of spiritual knowledge and deep faith.  The foundation’s support of religious scholarship at Emory has included sustained funding for projects and scholarship at both CSLR and the Candler School of TheologyThe Alonzo McDonald Chair on Jesus and Culture at Candler has brought to the campus a score of distinguished scholars over the past 18 years, including leading theologians like Jaroslav Pelikan and Barbara Brown Taylor and leading jurists like the Honorable John T. Noonan, Jr.  Professor Roberto Goizueta, Jr. serves in the chair this year.

Since 2004, the foundation has provided grants of more than $3 million to support CSLR projects on Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian contributions to law, politics, and society.  These projects have yielded more than 70 new volumes (in 9 languages) as well as the establishment of the Cambridge Studies in Law and Christianity Series, edited by CSLR director John Witte, Jr.  These projects have also convened 12 roundtable conferences and 17 public forums, and have drawn in more than 250 scholars from around the world, and many thousands of in-person and on-line conferees.

The foundation supports a dozen McDonald Distinguished Professors at Emory, Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Duke, Cambridge, and Oxford. Witte serves as McDonald Distinguished Professor of Religion as well as Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law.  In 2016, the foundation pledged $1 million for Witte to continue in this work for another decade.  This year, the foundation sponsored the inaugural class of McDonald Distinguished Fellows, 13 younger Christian scholars of law, theology, history and ethics, each appointed to a five-year term (2019-2024). This diverse group will receive financial, intellectual and social support from CSLR as they produce books, articles, interviews and public lectures on law and religion themes. 

“The world has lost one of its great leaders of church, state, society, and economy,” Witte said.  “We join his extended family and global network of friends both in mourning Al McDonald’s death and in celebrating his remarkable life of faith and works.   We will sorely miss his deep wisdom, generosity, tenacity, discipline, and integrity – and his incisive and insightful questions at our conferences.  The saints in heaven have just met their match.”

Mr. McDonald’s obituary can be viewed here. View more about McDonald’s long involvement with CSLR here.

Update: The Wall Street Journal published an obituary of Mr. McDonald on December 18, 2019 and you can read it here.